Some Undercarriage details for a fellow Roland CII enthusiast.

This is for Peter who is carrying forward the Roland CII tradition and building his own, around 50″ scale version. His will likely be more successfull than mine was, as he won’t be overloading it with too large an engine and fuel tank, so that it becomes overweight and flies like a pig…..thats been eating bricks…….for weeks. You can check out his comments so far in the Roland CII section all the way at the bottom of the page. I thought I’d move the conversation here though, as others might benefit from whats being discussed. We had been discussing undercarriages, and I did a quick sketch of the one I used on the Roland CII. Poor as it is, it is a picture, so maybe it’s worth 500 words, I wouldn’t wager a thousand.

The top is the type I used on the Roland. Since mine was so small, a little less than 30″, I couldn’t use the type on the bottom that I used on my larger sized WWI birds. So what you see is a steel wire “V” frame inserted into wood blocks inside the fuselage that are glued to bulkheads. You just drill the right size hole after shaping the v and insert the bent ends and(glue) them. Then you bungee the floating axle to the bottom of the “v” with an appropriate strength rubber band..(your discretion). The fairing is attached to the top of the axle, I used small copper wire on the bottom to fasten the fairing and glued it into the foam fairing by simply pushing it in with glue attached. Be sure the axle spins inside the three or four little wire loops. This way, when in place, the axle can bounce up and down, and the little indented ends of the fairing keep it level in action by contacting the v frame. I hope this makes sense.

The bottom example is great and authentic when you have a thick enough fairing (larger models) and simply uses streamlined aluminum tubing (with steel wire inside optional) for the frame. At the bottom a piece of tin or aluminum flashing is folded around the bottome and glued in place. In this with a drill, a vertical slot is cut for the axle. Another thin peice of flashing can be connected between the two underneath to join the two sides and act as a cover for the groove in the fairing. I usually add tabs to this by which I can use screws to attach the fairing. Once the axle is in place and the two ends bungeed, you simply slide the fairing down over the axle, ( I use foam so I simply cut a horizontal slot to accomodate the axle in the fairing) and attach it to the bottom cross member with screws. This way the axle bounces up and down inside the fairing.

Hope this helps, it’s a lot in a very small space. But if you have any questions please ask, and perhaps others have their own techniques they’d like to share! There is more than one way to do this.



Out with the old, in with the new!

Welcome to a NEW YEAR! Hope one and all had a great Christmas, and didn’t get too plastered celebrating the arrival of 2012. Some progress has occured since the last post I dropped here. Actually it’s kind of the Russian proverbial “one step backward, two steps forward” type of progress, but hey…it’s progress. At least that’s what my propaganda ministry is calling it.

1st update.

The glimmer of hope the Roland CII showed in finally getting balanced and becoming a good flyer erupted into a roaring flame which consumed it so completely that only a charred relic, and a brief memory remain.

By the way, the compelling picture above has been long debated as to its authenticity. I believe it remains currently undecided as to it’s being an actual shot of a German pilot tumbling from his machine after being shot down in flames. If it is real, I’d say it’s one of the more awful yet compelling images of the WWI air war. But back to the Roland. After about 4 very dodgy ROG flights, the bird was severely damaged on landing, was restored for another try,  and was now becoming an overweight flying patch after all of this abuse. A basic initial imbalance, coupled with a warped fuselage, had been causing these troubles all along. The final straw was when after extensive rebuilding and yet another attempt was made to fine tune the balance, the plane stalled in an re-inflicted all of it’s previous damage, which was severe. The final decision was to scrap the design, which may be revisited someday with more focus, a straighter fuselage, and less overall weight.

So thats the bad news, but the good news is, I’ve got all these plane guts….so what to do. Enter the next flying machine project currently underway…

I’ve always liked the Ford Flivver and thought it’dmake a nice scale subject…..well, it’s already being framed up as we speak…..more to come soon.

Roland CII-a shows glimmer of hope in flight test.

Well, it turns out the refinements outlined in the previous post regarding the Roland CII and needed balance adjustments were accurate, and this nice little machine seems to be pulling itself out of its borderline survival status.

The aforementioned weight and balance corrections were performed, as well as a reduction of both the control throws for the rudder and elevator, which resulted in the longest and most stable flight the machine has performed to date.  Granted, it was still a handfull in the air, but the final necessary tweaks to correct this are quite clear now, and once these are done, there should be some nice video to stick up here.

Keep those fingers crossed ; )

PS. And you thought the Flying Tigers in China were the first to use that mean looking shark mouth decoration on an aircaft…..look closely at the line-up of Rolands above……sneaky.


Roland test flights and questionable future….

Well, ok, it’s not quite this bad……..yet. But the Roland CII-a  has been quite a handfull lately in my attempts to get her flight worthy.

Initially she simply would not ROG, (Rise off Ground) and in the taxi she was planted firmly on terra firma and would nose over easily……all classic hallmarks of a nose heavy plane. When forced to lift off with use of excessive elevator she would snap immediately, often damaging herself. One issue with small planes like this is a little tweaking goes a looooong way, so you have to be very minimalistic.

So in that light, we moved the battery pack from just forward the fuel tank to the observers seat, well aft of the CG. Also, we did balance tests because this didn’t seem like enough weight redistibution to make a big enough change, and added some weight to the tail on the horizontal stabilizer as well.

As I said before….small increments….and these were rather large in hindsight. The results? Well, she lifted off much more readily, but after gaining altitude to about two or three feet, she would remain nose high, and bank left or right and stall in. No control inputs could counteract this and if you were quick enough to counter control one bank, she’d just as easily snap the other way and slam to ground.

Diagnosis: You have overcorrected and gone from obviously nose heavy to obviously tail heavy.

So currently: We have removed the weight from the tail, and are making repairs to the damaged elements in order to give her another try with the new balance scheme. The wing attachments at the fuselage are where most of the damage has occured, so those are being repaired/upgraded. This is one of those planes that is a “combat veteran” before she’s even been really airborne. It’s irritating to see such abuse to such a nice airframe before it’s even seen the sky, but this happens once in a while. The more infrequently the better though!

So as it stands I will post results once the repairs are finsished and she has been tested again. Let’s hope I get her dialed in before she re-kits herself.

Roland CII flight trials

With the rogallo fighter being tweaked and prepped for its first flight, I thought I’d also add some of the details of the progress with the Roland CII for a change, as it too is a bit further along in progress than the Rogallo fighter, and has undergone 4 flight attempts. Unfortunately, as is the case with small (under 30″ wingspan) scratchbuilt machines, weight and balance can be very tough to determine. So, many times you hit snags before they get into the air. If you don’t figure out these snags quickly enough, they may not see the sky at all. The Roland, on all 4 attempts, tried to tell me the same thing….planes do this you know, that is if you understand what they are trying say to you, via their behaviour. I won’t let the cat out of the bag yet though, and will detail in a later post just what alterations I performed, and how they worked out…or didn’t. She is undergoing balance and weight changes now though, that should see her trying to leap skyward again, very possibly this weekend….so more to come.

The Roland CII was a very sleek and modern design, and years ahead of it’s time. For a two seater, it was quite agile and posed a considerable threat, as it fused very eloquently the roles of scout/fighter, and two man observation/bomber types.

With a streamlined monocoque fuselage, the precursor of our modern solid skinned (not canvas) fusleage types, and sleek aerodynamicly faired shape, the Roland looked and performed all the more like an aircraft we would recognize today, as opposed to its peers at the time, the planes that initially were flying alongside it when it was first seeing combat.  An example of one of these (the Fokker Eindecker) is immediately below, and as you can see, with a skin of cloth stretched over a wooden (or metallic in the Fokkers case), skeleton, this machine was more motor-driven kite, than aeroplane. More along the lines of what today we would consider an ultra-light.

The Roland however was not without it’s issues. The main one being a nasty habit to nose over on landing, due to poor pilot visibility of the ground, sitting atop the fuselage as he was with both of the biplane wings offering very little view of the approaching field. Also, many Rolands simply ran into things on the field that were unseen by the pilot due to this same field of vision issue.

This shot kinda reminds me of the first few flight attempts I made with the Roland….although my damage wasn’t as severe…in fact it was mininal. Once I get her properly balanced, I think she will be fine. The other good thing about piloting a Roland CII from the ground, instead of the cockpit, is that I won’t ever have the same landing “field of view” problems that the poor fellow above did.

Here is a link to a discussion on my build of the Roland CII, at RCUniverse.

Roland CII

Some shots of another scratchbuilt scale machine I just completed, this one is waiting for its maiden.


The Roland CII is one of the most innovative 2 seaters to come out of WWI. While other aircraft of the period were veritable kites with motors. The Roland had all of hallmarks of a much more modern aircraft.