Thanks for your insight Mike! My intention in trying to make the 5 1/2 a “trying” plane was to utilize the extra weight of the tool. The fact is that I do own a L-N scrub plane that I have utilized for smoothing work on particularly nasty surfaces. And I also have a very contemporary English Stanley #7. The truth is that I have rarely used the #7. Maybe I’d gain a new appreciation for this tool if I had some more facility with it.
It is interesting to note your above reference to “German work”. According to French scholar Daniel Roche, about half of the craftsmen in carpentry who operated in 18th century France were German. That would help justify your citation of, “…traditional Western European practice” being labelled “German”. They were everywhere.