Military Wiki
LFG Roland C.II
Role Reconnaissance Aircraft
Manufacturer Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft G.m.b.H.
Designer Dipl. Ing. Tantzen
First flight 1915
Introduction 1916
Primary user Luftstreitkräfte

The LFG Roland C.II, usually known as the Walfisch (Whale), was an advanced German reconnaissance aircraft of World War I. It was manufactured by Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft G.m.b.H.


The C.II had much lower drag than comparable aircraft of its time. It featured a monocoque fuselage built with an outer skin of two layers of thin plywood strips at an angle to each other (known as a Wickelrumpf, or "wrapped body" design).[1] This had both lower drag and better strength per weight than typical of the time, but it was relatively slow and expensive to build. (This approach was further developed in the de Havilland Mosquito of World War II.) The deep fuselage completely filled the vertical gap between the wing panel center sections, eliminating any need for cabane struts commonly used in biplanes, and gave the aircraft its "whale" nickname. Struts and wires were reduced, short of suffering the weight penalty of cantilever wings, iike those used on the pioneering all-metal Junkers J 1 of late 1915. There was even some attempt to fair the wings into the fuselage, to eliminate dead air space, a feature prominently missing from the Schneider Trophy contestants of the following decade. The engineer in charge of the design was Tantzen, a student of Prandl, the founder of mathematical aerodynamics and the one to introduce the concept of boundary layer.[2][3]

The C.II was powered by a single 160 hp (120 kW) Mercedes D III, providing a top speed of 165 km/h, a ceiling of 4000m, and an endurance of four hours.

Operational history

The C.II entered service in the spring of 1916. Operationally, handling was reported as difficult but performance was relatively good. Due to the crew positions with eyes above the upper wing, upward visibility was excellent, but downward visibility was poor. It was also used in a fighter escort role and had a crew of two, pilot and observer/gunner.

Because of its speed, when it was first introduced, it could be intercepted only from above. Because of the lack of downward visibility, it was best attacked by diving below and coming up at it.[4]


  • C.II : Two-seat reconnaissance, escort fighter biplane.
  • C.IIa : Generally similar to the Roland C.II, but fitted with revised and reinforced wingtips and larger vertical stabilizer.
  • C.III : Development with two bay wings and a 200 hp (149 kW) Benz Bz.IV 6-cylinder water-cooled inline engine.


 German Empire

Specifications (C.II)

Data from Gray and Thetford p.161

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2, pilot and observer
  • Length: 7.7 m (25 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.3 m (33 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 2.9 m (9 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 26.00 m² (280.8 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 764 kg (1,681 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 1,284 kg (2,825 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Mercedes D.III water-cooled in-line, 160 hp (120 kw)


  • Maximum speed: 165 km/h (103 mph) at sea level
  • Service ceiling: 4,000 m (13,123 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 12 minutes to 2,000 m (6,562 ft)


Comparable aircraft


  1. German Combat Planes: A Comprehensive Survey and History of the Development of German Military Aircraft from 1914 to 1945. New York: Doubleday. 1971. pp. 75 & 76. 
  2. Aircraft in Profile 163, 1970
  3. A Physics Today article
  4. Profiles
  • Gray, Peter; Thetford, Owen (1970). German Aircraft of the First World War. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-809-7. 
  • Munson, Kenneth - Bombers, Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft 1914 - 1919 ISBN 0-7537-0918-X

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).