SEM Model 1/72 AVIA LM.02
Assault Glider
by Richard Mendes


Click the STORMO! Eagle to
return to the Gallery


The Azionaria Vercellese Industrie Aeronautiche (AVIA) LM.02 was an all-wooden-unpowered glider designed to attack the Gibraltar British naval base. A major objective of Western Axis Powers throughout WWII was to seize Gibraltar at the Atlantic Ocean entrance into the Mediterranean. Late in 1941 the Regia Aeronautica Italia (RAI) contracted with AVIA to build an unpowered glider to attack Gibraltar radio intelligence listening stations. AVIA proprietor Carlo Francis Lombardi (1897-1983) entrusting Pieraldo Mortara to design and build two all-wooden prototype LM.02s for RAI evaluation. During the fall of 1942 the first and believed to be the only LM.02 prototype piloted by Nello Raimondo flew for the first time. Flight characteristics were good though soon after the British activated long-range aircraft tracking radar systems on Gibraltar, the RAI discontinued the LM.02 program.

The LM.02 was a single-seat unpowered monoplane glider featuring a uniquely designed elliptical wooden fuselage with watertight compartments allowing water floatation following combat missions. Cantilever wooden wings were fitted with dive brakes and shackles for two 820 kg (1,874 lb) bombs, two main wing landing gear sets were designed one for flight testing and the other to accommodate the weight of the bombs. Towed at night by a Savoia-Marchetti S.79 fitted with extra fuel tanks, LM.02s were to be released 30km from Gibraltar gliding to their targets undetected, then dive bombing the target. The pilot afterwards would take advantage of whatever remaining speed and altitude to reach the Algeciras Spanish coast, belly landing the glider at sea, the pilots subsequently being picked up by waiting submarines.















Construction

The 1/72 scale AVIA LM.02 resin kit is a new mold first released in 2018 (it is not the same mold as the A+V Models kit released in 2004). On August 28, 2018 I purchased the SEM Model kit and built it in late December that year.

A sturdy, simple kit with 27 resin 12 etched (mainwing landing skids dive brakes, bomb shackles, instrument panel, tow ring, pitot tube assemblies ) 6 molded (main landing gear) brass parts plus clear vacuformed cockpit canopies it was straightforward to build though a lot of resin trimming, putty filling and sanding was necessary around fuselage-mainwing, fuselage-cockpit seams. Cockpit detail was minimal, scratch built, painted and glued in a rudder control bar well as fabricating, painting, gluing on pilot seat straps made from Scotch Magic Mending Tape. The main landing gear brass parts for the LM.02 prototype lack sway struts so fabricated them from surplus kit parts as well.

Painting the SEM Model AVIA LM.02 was straightforward all spray work being accomplished with Testors Aztek A320 Single and A470 Double Action airbrushes, 9304CX 0.30, 9305CX 0.40, 9306CX 0.50 mm spray nozzles. The cockpit interior and canopy frames were sprayed Light Gray (1:5 Testors Flat Black and White enamels), exteriors Humbrol 91 Matt Black Green replicating Verde Oliva Scuro 2, Testors Model Master 1726 Light Sea Gray replicating Grigio Azzurro Chiaro 1 each lightened 36% with Testors Flat White enamels, white Distintivo di Guerra crosses painted on rudder sides, Testors Aluminum, Black, Bronze, Olive Green, Red, Rubber, Rust et. al. flat enamels employed as detailing colors. The SEM Model kit came with 820kg bombs, painted Testors Flat and White "special mix" and White enamels per period photographs I'd seen of similarly painted bombs.

The SEM Model kit decals were well made though tad thick few problems encountered whilst applying them the entire model subsequently over-sprayed with Testors Model Master Semi-Gloss Clear Lacquer Finish thinned 50% with Klean Strip Lacquer Thinner (WAY cheaper than Model Master thinner and just as good), prefer semi-gloss finish over flat, detail "pops out" better plus aesthetically more pleasing in appearance.

The SEM Model kit provided two main landing gear placement options; one for the prototype other for carrying the 820kg bombs, holes for each molded in each mainwing. The kit instructions indicated that those holes not needed for either landing gear placement needed to be filled over but chose not to instead keeping them open so as to take photographs of the model with each kind with or without the bombs being attached to the mainwings Elmer’s White Glue being used to hold them on.



Technical Data

Aircraft: AVIA LM.02
Manufacturer: Azionaria Vercellese Industrie Aeronautiche (AVIA)
Type: Assault Glider
Year: 1942
Wingspan: 52 ft 6 in (16.00 m)
Length: 35 ft 3 1/4 in (10.75 m)
Height: 9 ft 2 1/4 in (2.80 m)
Weight: 6,261 lb (2,840 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 336 mph (540 km/h) (in a nose dive)
Armament: 2 x 1,874 lb (820 kg) bombs
Crew: 1

Additional Images



STORMO! Products

















February, 2019
STORMO! © 2019