Rohrbach Roland

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Ro VIII Roland
Ad Astra Aero - Rohrbach Ro VIIIa Roland 1929.jpg
Role Airliner
National origin Germany
Manufacturer Rohrbach
Designer Adolf Rohrbach
First flight 1926
Primary user Deutsche Luft Hansa
Number built 18

The Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland was an airliner produced in Germany during the 1920s.[1] It was a conventional strut-braced, high-wing monoplane, based loosely on the Zeppelin-Staaken E-4/20 that Adolf Rohrbach designed in 1920.[2] It had a fully enclosed flight deck and passenger cabin, and featured fixed, tailskid undercarriage.[2] Power was supplied by three engines, one in the nose, and two mounted in nacelles on the wings.[2] Construction was of metal throughout.[3]

In 1926 Deutsche Luft Hansa purchased the prototype Roland, followed by five production examples over that year and the next.[4] The production machines were built with open flight decks, although they were later enclosed, as on the prototype.[4] These were put to work servicing a route between Berlin and London via Hanover and Amsterdam.[4] In July 1927 the Roland held the world endurance record for a payload of 1,000 kg with a flight of 14 hours 23 minutes,[4] and the world distance record for a payload of 2,000 kg of 1,750 km (1,090 mi).[5] At different times, the Roland held twenty-two world records.[6]

In 1928, Luft Hansa replaced three of its Rolands with new machines of slightly different design. Designated Ro VIIIa, these had a fuselage that was stretched by 30 cm (1 ft) and were powered by the more powerful BMW V engines in place of the BMW IVs fitted to the prototype and first production batch.[4] A new Spanish airline, Iberia, purchased the three Rolands that Luft Hansa retired, and put them into service on its inaugural service between Madrid and Barcelona.[4]

In 1929, Rohrbach produced nine examples of a substantially updated Roland for Luft Hansa.[4][6] These featured a major redesign of the flight deck, and a new wing design.[4] Dubbed the Roland II, these aircraft continued in service with the airline until 1936 on its HamburgMalmö and BerlinMunich routes.[4] Luft Hansa sold at least three of these aircraft to Deruluft upon retirement.[4] The Luftwaffe acquired another one, armed it, and operated it at the clandestine school at Lipetsk to train bomber crews.[7]

The Spanish amusement park Tibidabo (Barcelona) got a real-size replica of that plane, painted red. It is the most famous ride in the park, opened on September 23, 1928, sometimes referred to as "the first flight simulator in the world", and called "L'avió" (Catalan for "the plane").

During his 1932 election campaign, Adolf Hitler hired a Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland aeroplane from Deutsche Luft Hansa for his two first series of campaign flights in March and July. The aeroplane was named Immelmann I after World War I pilot Max Immelmann. Hitler switched to a Ju-52 in November 1932.[8]

Specifications (first production batch)[edit]

Data from Munson 1982, p.53

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two
  • Capacity: 10 passengers
  • Length: 16.10 m (52 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 26.30 m (86 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 89.0 m2 (958.0 ft2)
  • Gross weight: 7,150 kg (15.763 lb)
  • Powerplant: 3 × BMW IV, 170 kW (230 hp) each


  • Cruising speed: 175 km/h (110 mph)
  • Range: 1,500 km (930 miles)
  • Service ceiling: 4,000 m (13,000 ft)


  1. ^ Taylor 1989, p.768
  2. ^ a b c The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft p. 2816
  3. ^ Munson 1982, p.137–138
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Munson 1982, p.138
  5. ^ "World's Records in Aviation" p.247
  6. ^ a b "The Rohrbach 'Roland II'", p.434
  7. ^ Johnson 1998
  8. ^ Hoffmann 2000, p.72


  • Hoffmann, Peter (2000). Hitler's Personal Security: Protecting The Fuhrer 1921-1945. New York: Da Capo Press. 
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Aerospace Publishing. 
  • Johnson, Robert Craig (December 1998). "Planting the Dragon's Teeth". Chandelle. 3 (3). Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  • Munson, Kenneth (1982). Airliners from 1919 to the Present Day. London: Peerage Books. ISBN 0-907408-36-2. 
  • "The Rohrbach 'Roland II'". Flight: 434. 23 May 1929. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. ISBN 0-7106-0710-5. 
  • "World's Records in Aviation". Flight: 247. 20 March 1931. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 

External links[edit]