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Ln 411

23 May
2012

how to build a airplane

Loire-Nieuport LN.411 1:48 scale. The LN.411 was another of those rather ungainly, unattractive, and largely unwanted machines that the French aviation industry seemed to specialise in during the late 1930s. Designed as a dive-bomber and intended for use by both services, it proved to be an under-performing beast and the Armee de I’Air were only too happy to hand their quota over to the Aeronavale\ Only two units ever operated the LN.411 in Anger, Escadrilles AB2 and AB4, and their history is notable mainly for one famous operation on 19 May 1940 when they combined for an attack at Berlaimont in northern France in a valiant attempt to stem the German advance. Half the force of twenty machines was lost in the attempt and most of the survivors were destroyed in the days afterwards. With their bases overrun, the two units withdrew to the south of France and ultimately to North Africa after the Armistice.

Undistinguished aircraft it may be, but this model, in the usual Azur style of this prolific Czech Republic kit producer, comprises a set of basically accurate injection moulded parts providing the main airframe, with neat resin castings for the cockpit and other small details. Vacformed canopies and an excellent decal sheet complete the package.
Any modeller who has built this type of kit before will have no problems as it is one of the easier of the breed. With the possible exception of the undercarriage, of which more anon……
Having blanked out the inside of the exhaust holes with plastic card, the fuselage halves were glued together straightaway and left to set. The assembled and completed cockpit can be inserted from underneath through the wing opening which is a neater way of doing this than the conventional method suggested in the instructions.
All the panel lines are very faint, so I carefully went over them with an Olfa P-Cutter to give them a bit more definition. This is particularly necessary for the engine cowling panels and the various control surfaces. The wings needed a bit more work, especially the usual problem of ensuring that the resin undercarriage bays fit correctly. The air intake parts were less of a problem, thankfully!
Once these were all in place, I glued the lower wing to the fuselage and left it to set before adding the upper wing halves. I found this sequence better than the kit instructions because it meant that I could attend to the upper wing-to-fuselage joints individually to get as neat a join as possible. The port wing was fine, but the starboard still required a little filler.

The tailplane assembly was simplicity itself, the only point to remember was to put the endplates on correctly – even though they do look as if they are on backwards! All the joints were plain butt joints, and you could if you wish reinforce them with brass rod.
The three air intakes under the nose were fitted next and, not surprisingly, needed a little filler to blend them in smoothly. In fact, the main chin intake fitted better than expected and, with the ‘mesh’ front to the inner piece, looks quite neat.
With the main airframe complete, I then turned my attention to completing the cockpit and fitting the canopy. To my relief, this was quite an easy task with careful and steady trimming and I didn’t need to resort to the spare canopy for once! I glued it in place with epoxy resin glue which made for a neat and strong joint. Too late I realised that there is no gunsight supplied in the kit……
The resin canopy rails needed to be fitted
very carefully, ‘slot’ side inwards of course. By the way, the odd angle of these is explained by the fact that the canopy is pulled down towards the fuselage as it opens rearwards, an unusual arrangement, to say the least. This should be borne in mind if an open canopy is required on your model.
At this stage the model was prepared for painting; all other detail parts being left until later. After a coat of primer – and having masked the canopy, of course – the camouflage colours were applied by airbrush. This is never an easy task with French camouflage patterns of the period and particularly so with the ‘blotchy’ pattern on these machines. The decals went on easily, the only tricky part being that the rudder stripes are made up of three separate colours that need to be cut to size from the panels supplied on the sheet – fiddly, but not difficult.
With a grand total of twenty-two parts, the undercarriage assembly is probably the worst part of the kit and is tricky to get right. As a piece of design it reflects the full-size in being somewhat overcomplicated and quite a challenge to make sense of. The main rearwards-folding undercarriage legs are no problem and these were glued into place and left to set thoroughly – and correctly aligned -before proceeding further.
Now the fun starts! Each rear strut comprises four parts, one plastic and three resin, and these were assembled on a simple jig to ensure that all four completed struts were alike. The central horizontal T-bars were glued to their support blocks within the bays, (medium viscosity superglue is essential for all this work), and then the pairs of struts were glued either side. When aligned correctly with each other, their lower ends were glued to the bottom of the main legs. There are no proper locations for any of this so a lot of care is required, but if done properly you do end up with a strong assembly – it just dips into your reserves of patience to get there!
The undercarriage doors are the worst bit of all, simply because there is absolutely no provision in the kit for fixing them. So, with careful reference to the instruction sheet drawings, each door was offered up to their approximate locations and the protruding T-bar rods trimmed to their correct length. This is all a bit
trial-and-error, but the doors could then be glued to the ends of the rods so that they hang more-or-less where they should be in relationship to both the wheels and the leading edge of the wing.
The geometry of the undercarriage would suggest that the bottom of the doors should be connected in some way to the bottom of the legs, so I cut short lengths of rod to do this in a way that may not be prototypical but does at least make for a fairly strong assembly on the model.
After all this, the final details were simplicity itself and the model was soon complete.
The propeller, as is usual in this style of kit, needs to be assembled from separate blades, hub and spinner. When gluing the blades to the hub, I find a useful tip is to place it on a watch face so that you can easily align the blades with the 4, 8 and 12-o’clock positions. At least it is a simple paint job on French machines – matt black overall.
The rudder and aileron control horns are resin castings that need careful handling but look good once glued into place; likewise the tiny grab rails on the fuselage sides. The box art shows an aerial wire running from the radio mast to the fin and for the sake of this review I’ve replicated this, but I’m not sure if this is correct, such wires were not normally seen on French aircraft of the period, just masts only. Having checked all my reference photos, I certainly cannot see evidence of wires, but then they don’t normally show anyway especially when seen against a sky background.
This may not exactly be an exciting subject, but nevertheless this is a nice kit of one of aviation’s more unusual aircraft and can be recommended if you like something a bit out of the ordinary.
David Jane

Connected themes: scale models military, great planes airplanes, rc war planes, Ln 411, plastic scale model kits, fighter jet models, plastic models.

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