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Iberia and the Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I

By: Rob Mulder
For www.europeanairlines.no

The foundation of Iberia

Foreign airline companies operated the first air routes in Spain. Two French airline companies started services between France and Spain. Latécoère opened a through service along the Mediterranean coast to Northern Africa, while Société des Transports Aéronautiques du Sud-Ouest – STASO and its successor Compagnie Franco-Bilbaïne de Transports Aéronautiques – CFB operated a service from Bayonne to Bilbao and later to Santander in the north-western parts of Spain.

In Spain only one air service was operated. On October 15, 1921 the Compañia Española de Tráfico Aéreo – CETA opened an airmail service between Sevilla and Larache with De Havilland DH 9s. By the mid-twenties new airlines companies were formed be it mostly with foreign capital:

Compañia Aéromaritima Mallorquina SA – CAMSA – was taken over by the Compagnie Générale d’Entreprises Aéronautique – Lignes Aériennes Latécoère;

Compañia Transaeréa Española SA- Colon – was formed with German and Spanish capital; and the

Union Aeréa Española SA – was formed with financial aid from the German Junkers Flugzeugwerk AG – Jfa.

In 1926 the German airline company Deutsche Luft Hansa AG – DLH took on behalf of the ReichsverkehrsministeriumRVM (the German Air Ministry) the initiative to start negotiations with a Spanish consortium. On October 11, 1926 an agreement was signed that would lead to the formation of the Spanish-German airline company Aero Lloyd Española SA. DLH would take 49 % of the shares. By March 1927 the name of the company had been changed into Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia SA – CATISA, but by then DLH had only 24 % of the shares. The company was officially formed on July 26, 1927 and renamed Iberia. The Spanish government did not want to grant a concession to Iberia and this led to the withdrawal of the Spanish consortium and the take over of the shares by DLH. This ownership lasted until 1943.

But in the autumn of 1927 the Spanish government granted a concession for the route Madrid – Barcelona (air route number 350b), which in December of that year could be opened.

The Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I – the standard aircraft of Iberia

In January 1926 DLH ordered at the Rohrbach-Metall-Flugzeugbau GmbH, Berlin two Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I (Roland standing for Rohrbach Land) aircraft. It was for Adolf Rohrbach the first commercial transport aircraft to be taken in service. The prototype flew before September 1926 and was on September 5 presented to the press at Berlin-Tempelhof. The first two aircraft were subsequently delivered to DLH and this order was followed by a new order for an additional five aircraft for delivery in 1927. The Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I was a high-wing cantilever monoplane powered by three 230 hp BMW IV six-cylinder water-cooled inline engines. It had an open cockpit, though later versions were fitted with covered cockpits. The rectangular fuselage was covered with duralumin and housed ten passengers. Two of the engines were mounted in the wing and one in the nose.

As mentioned before DLH took over the first two aircraft in the autumn of 1926. They were D991 Zugspitze (c/n 18) and D999 Watzmann (c/n 19). In 1927 they were followed by D-1124 Schneekoppe, D-1280 Feldberg, D-1292 Brocken and D-1297 Wasserkuppe (c/ns 27, 35, 36 and 37).

Since the Junkers G 24 was in use with Iberia’s competitor UAE it was decided to charter the Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I. The reliable aircraft entered service on the DLH air route Genève – Zürich – München – Wien and resumed its trial flights over the Alps to Milano in Italy. Iberia took over its first two Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland Is in December 1927, just before the opening of the air route Madrid – Barcelona. They were D991 and D999 that were re-registered in Spain as M-CACA (registered December, 1927) and M-CBBB (registered December 12, 1927). It turned out that the registration “CACA” also stood for a rather naughty Spanish word and thus the aircraft was quickly re-registered (on December 21, 1927) as M-CAAC.

On December 14, 1927 the air service Madrid – Barcelona could be opened. The air service was operated daily, except on Sundays. On February 15, 1928 the frequency was reduced to twice weekly, but increased again to four times weekly on April 26.

Your comments are welcome

The delivery of the next aircraft to Iberia is not quite clear. The company received its third Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I in December 1927 and registered it as M-CCCC. This aircraft crashed in thick fog at Ventas de Muneisa (Ternuel) on April 19, 1928. There seemed to have been a second aircraft carrying the registration M-CCCC: ex D-1125, c/n 27. Its date of delivery is unknown, but did it replace the first M-CCCC? The second M-CCCC had during 1928 been returned to DLH.

In August 1928 M-CAAC and M-CBBB returned to DLH and were replaced by two new aircraft: M-CAEE (ex D-1280, c/n 35) and M-CADD (ex D-1338 (and ex D991), registered as late as November 17, 1928). Latter aircraft had been re-engined with three 320 hp BMW Va and designated Ro VIIIa Roland Ia. It returned to DLH shortly after the closure of the air route in December 1928.

Until the end of February 1928 the service was subsidized by the German State, but after that the Spanish government took over. The results obtained during the period December 14, 1927 – December 31, 1928 were: 901 passengers carried in addition to 462 kg of excess luggage, 6,210 kg freight and 2,996 kg of airmail. Not too impressive. By December 31, 1928 the service had been closed down. The aircraft had been returned to DLH. Later Iberia participated as a holding company in the formation of the new national airline company CLASSA.

The fleet

We would appreciate reactions on the fleet of Iberia of the period 1927-1928. Especially the use of the registration M-CAEE (used twice) has been a puzzle.

C/n 18 Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I   
Engine: 3x 230 hp BMW IV
Regn. Date Remarks
05.09.26 First flight with Hermann Steindorf as pilot from Berlin-Tempelhof
D 991 .26 Delivered to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG
M-CACA 12.27 Chartered to Iberia, Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia S.A.
M-CAAC 21.12.27 Re-registered
D 991 08.28 Returned to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG
To DVL and rebuilt as Ro VIIIMb or Ro XII Roka
.28 To Ro VIIIa, c/n 40
C/n 19 Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I
Engine 3x 230 hp BMW IV
Regn. Date Remarks
D 999 .26 Delivered to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG. Name: Watzmann
M-CBBB 12.12.27 Chartered to Iberia, Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia S.A.
D 999 08.28 Returned to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG
11.33 Re-engined with three BMW Va
D-AHIM .34 Re-registered
09.34 Delivered to DVS GmbH.
Fate unknown.
C/n 36 Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I
Engine: 3x 230 hp BMW IV
Regn. Date Remarks
D-1292 .27 Delivered to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG. Name: Brocken
M-CCCC (1) 13.12.27 Chartered to Iberia, Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia S.A.
19.04.28 Crashed at Ventas de Muneisa (Teruel)
Cancelled
C/n 27 Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I
Engine: 3x 230 hp BMW IV
Regn. Date Remarks
D-1124 .27 Delivered to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG. Name: Schneekoppe
M-CCCC(2) .28 Chartered to Iberia, Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia S.A.
D-1124 .28 Returned to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG
04.30 Re-engined with three BMW Va
03.33 Withdrawn from use and dismantled
C/n 40 Rohrbach Ro VIIIa Roland Ia
Engine: 3x 320 hp BMW Va
Regn. Date Remarks
D-1338 .28 First flight
.28 Delivered to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG. Name: Zugspitze
M-CADD 17.11.28 Chartered to Iberia, Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia S.A.
D-1338 .28 Returned to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG
07.03.31 Crashed at Oldenzaal (NL) and cancelled
C/n 35 Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I
Engine: 3x 230 hp BMW IV
Regn. Date Remarks
D-1280 .27 Delivered to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG. Name: Feldberg
M-CAEE .28 Chartered to Iberia, Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia S.A.
D-1280 .28 Returned to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG
D-AGUN .34 Re-registered
09.34 Delivered to DVS GmbH.
Fate unknown.
Not confirmed:
C/n 37 Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I
Engine: 3x 230 hp BMW IV
Regn. Date Remarks
D-1297 .27 Delivered to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG. Name: Wasserkuppe
M-CAEE .28 Chartered to Iberia, Compañia Aérea de Transportes Iberia S.A.
D-1297 .29 Returned to Deutsche Luft Hansa AG
D-AKIL .34 Re-registered.
.34 Delivered to DVS GmbH.
.34 Possibly withdrawn from use.

Technical details:

Some technical details of the Rohrbach Ro VIII Roland I

Span                                26.3 metres

Length                            16.1 metres (for the Ro VIIIa: 16.4 metres)

Wing area                     89 sq. m.

Empty weight             4,575 kg (for the Ro VIIIa: 4,825 kg)

Loaded weight           7,150 kg

Cruising speed           175 kph (for the Ro VIIIa: 177 kph)

Ceiling                           4,000 metres

Range                             900-1,400 km

Source: European Air Transport 1919-1965 by John Stroud.

 

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