Copper State Models 1/48 Lohner B.II

Model, Text & Photos by Steven M. Perry


The Lohner B.II was an Army observation machine that was an outgrowth of the sporting biplanes built by Lohner before the war. The first military version was the B.I . Improved prototypes were designated C and later changed to B.II. They did not do well when opposed by armed enemies. Some had armament fitted in the field, but the Lohners were quickly withdrawn from the Italian front by late spring or early summer 1915. Some went to less active fronts and most were relegated to training machines. The last one was written off sometime in 1917.

The CSM Lohner B.II is typical of Copper State's high quality multi-media kits. Composed of resin, PE and white metal, CSM kits are a rewarding challenge to the builder and a good value for the price.

I began construction with the engine. The white metal in my example was not the best I've ever seen and I replaced the carb and intake manifold with pieces made from bent plastic rod. I also added pushrods to the engine. A note of caution about the engine location. Be sure to dry fit the engine with the cowl in place and the port cabaine strut taped or tack glued in place. The engine must be far forward enough to allow the #4 exhaust pipe to clear the cabaine strut. Adjust, (hack and cut) the engine if necessary to position it where it will clear the strut. Remember the pipes angle to the rear.

The non-standard fuselage design permits easy painting of the interior. I used stainless surgical wire for the interior cross bracing. The ply upper decking was represented by home made ply decal on the interior. It was painted gray on the outside.

I strongly recommend you take the time to install gluing tabs on the fuselage pieces. These meet at beveled joints along the upper and lower longerons. The bevel simply isn't enough to ensure an accurate fit. Time and effort spent now on this will pay off handsomely when you assemble the fuselage and dress the seams.

There really isn't much information on the interior and like many early war planes the Lohner B.IIs differed from machine to machine as equipment and fittings were added and changed to meet the needs of various missions. If you have photos, use 'em, if not then the drawings in the kit are about the best info you are going to get. As with all CSM kits, you need to really study the drawings, refer to the parts lists and think about how you will accomplish what you see. The kit provides a pretty good interior and you can add a detail or two of your own if so inclined.

Fuselage assembly is much more critical than on traditional split shell construction. There are quite a few inches of seam here and the sides need to be plumb vertical. If you followed my advice and installed gluing tabs, you should have no problems. On the other hand if you didn't, I hope you enjoy the adventure....I didn't.

The most difficult, (read, I messed it up the worst), part of the fuselage is the paint job. You are going to have at least 3 layers of paint including the primer and this is not the place to experiment with minimal drying time. Trust me, it is quicker to take the time to let the paint fully dry than it is to strip it off and do it over. In the end I painted the whole fuselage gray. Next I masked off what would remain gray and sprayed a base of CDL. When that dried, I marked the structure with watercolor pencil blended with a barely moist swab. This was followed by an overspray of CDL to just about cover the pencil marks. This whole business got a chance to cure hard and then the fuselage was further masked and white was sprayed on the area of both the red and white stripes. Finally the red stripes were added with carefully cut pieces of homemade red decal.

I use artist's acrylic colors mixed with Future for all but a few of my paints. This is also what I used to spray the clear decal material to make the red stripes.

The tailfeathers have nice cast hinge detail that gets cut when the surfaces are cut apart for posing. I handled this by dropping a short length of stretched sprue into the hinge line at the hinge. Painting followed the same steps as the fuselage. There is some adjustment needed to fit the stabilizer to the fuselage. Take care with the thin resin it requires a light touch when "adjusting".

The remainder of the fuselage construction consists of adding exterior details. The most prominent of which is the photo etched fuselage lacing. I prepainted mine and also found that it needed to be stretched a bit before application. Application is accomplished by gluing one end of a piece in precisely the position it needs to be. Let it dry well and then pull the stitching taught and every few mm or so tack it down exactly where it needs to be. Take great care to get it straight.

I found the white metal tailskid pieces to be a little rough to clean up well, so I made a skid out of bamboo and the supporting structure out of rod. The exterior elevator controls were added. I put Grandt Line bolt heads on the ends of the shafts. Since the elevator was posed to droop, I offset the horns and linkage to reflect this.

The wings were painted in a similar fashion to the fuselage described earlier, the only exception is that the red stripes were masked and sprayed instead of being applied as decals. A coat of clear Future over the white will aid in cleaning up the inevitable creepies that get under the masking when the red stripes are sprayed. Allowing sufficient drying time between coats is essential.

Joining the upper wing posed a challenge. This is a thin wing with a butt join in the center. The trouble with using two brass pins to join the panels is the need to be utterly precise in drilling the holes for the pins. I am NOT utterly precise, not even approximately close at times.

I decided to try something different. I used the point of my #11 blade to "drill" 4 matching holes, cones actually, in the wing panel roots. Two holes in each root matching the two holes in the other root. Here an exact match isn't necessary, just so the holes overlap by at least 50%. I filled all the holes with gap filling CA and then smeared some on the prepared mating surfaces of the panel roots. The panels were pressed together, aligned and left on a flat surface to cure with a scrap of plastic bag under the joint to prevent sticking.

Low and behold they dried up solid with two hard CA pins joining the panels. Plenty strong and way quicker and easier than brass pins.

While the center joint of the top wing panels was sufficiently strong for the purposes, picking the wing up by the center resulted in a droop of several cm at the tips. I corrected this by installing the top wing kingposts made from rod rather than the flimsier white metal. I drilled holes through the wing where the kingpost wires enter the wing. Using long pieces of stretched sprue, I formed an X over the kingpost. First the wires were secured with a drop of CA at one end. When that dried, the wire was pulled taught over the kingpost removing the wing droop. It was then secured with CA at the opposite end. When finished, the wing could be held at the middle joint between thumb and forefinger and remained perfectly flat tip to tip. The kingposts and rigging are definitely structural.

The lower wings required a different attachment method since there is considerable sweep, incidence and dihedral to account for. First adjust the roots with a flat sanding stick to fit at the correct sweepback angle along the fuselage. Do this over the drawing and get the angle right. I had to add a piece of styrene card to the root and re-sand to get the correct angle on one panel

I decided to use a single brass pin in each wing panel. I wanted to avoid the precision needed for two and I also needed flexibility for adjusting incidence and dihedral. I located the pin near the leading edge of each wing panel. I used thin brass wire (28 GA). I drilled 1/8 - 316 into each root and inserted the CA coated wire. This was trimmed to a pin about 3/16" long. Careful alignment and marking over the drawing yielded the correct location for holes to be drilled into the fuselage.

I carefully scraped the paint away from where the root would go, the panel was attached and incidence and dihedral were adjusted. The flexibility of the brass wire made this easy. Once the panels were lightly glued in place and adjusted to matching angles, I fed some CA into the wing fuselage joint on the underside of the wing.

 

With the tailfeathers and swept lower wings in place. The model bears a startling resemblance to an F-86 Sabre, A piston powered, open cockpit Mig killer, I almost started painting yellow stripes. The zooming around the work bench making motor noises took on a distinct turbine whine for a while.

Coming down the home stretch I was deciding how to attach the top wing. I decided to mount it on the center trestle made by the cabaine struts and then pop in the mainplane struts.

This required finishing and detailing the nose of the fuselage and installing the cabaine strut trestle. At this point the complex structure of the under carriage came into play. I went ahead and constructed the U/C before attaching the top wing. I as able to use the main skid and axle and the bungee sprung struts out of white metal, but scratched the rest of the structure from rod. This wasn't hard as the parts show on the drawings and a little study will help it fall together. I used a set of wire wheels from the spares box because I got clumsy and ruined one of the ones supplied in the kit.

I was amazed when I glued the top wing on the cabaine trestle. It took a little wedge to sit at the proper incidence. Supported in the middle on a CA butt joint, the top wing sat perfectly flat. Those kingposts are something else.

The white metal mainplane struts were too flimsy, so I made new ones out of bamboo. These were sanded to shape and marked with a watercolor pencil. This was painted over with tinted Future to blend the watercolor and give the strut a varnished finish. Be sure to shorten the outboard pairs to account for the dihedral in the lower wing. The top wing remains flat, so the lower wing is closer at the tips.

Rigging the Lohner is a challenge, there is a lot of it and it is in pretty non-standard places. I used heat stretched sprue as that seems to be the only material I seem to be able to work with. Whatever your rigging method, you'll get plenty of practice. I put a blob of acrylic gel on the wires and when it dries I paint it brass to simulate turnbuckles.

A final spraying of Future toned down with a touch of acrylic clear flat finished the model. I would say that the CSM Lohner B.II is about the hardest model I have built in a long time. This results from the subject matter rather than the kit, whose only fault is less than ideal white metal parts. I was challenged, frustrated and finally pleased with the build. I had to stretch as a modeler to get it done and as a result I'm a little better modeler and the proud owner of a right nice Lohner in the display case. My thanks to Eric of CSM, Tom Plesha and Bill Arnold of the WWI Modeling list for their moral support and special thanks to Roll Models for providing me with the opportunity to build the CSM Lohner B.II


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