Hand Tools Archive
I thought I would attempt to answer your question!
When I trained in about 1971, I was bought a 41/2, 51/2 and 7. Stanley UK were at a particularly low state. The 4 1/2 has never been used due to a huge trench round the throat caused by a belt sander. It took me about 20 years to true up the no 7. I would do a little work with each intake of students.
The 5 1/2 worked reasonably well and I got used to using it for everything, which of course it does very well. A couple of years later I realized it was being difficult, so encouraged by an article in Fine Woodworking, I flattened the sole. The improvement was huge, so I never felt the need of a smoothing plane at all.
This experience started my lifelong interest in plane tuning.
My workshop has always had machinery, so no need for preparing sawn boards.
I'm afraid Warren's criticisms of my methods are of little interest. He is a professional, I teach beginners who can't sharpen and have no idea how to plane up a component.