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Infinity Models 1/32 D3A1 “Val” dive bomber by HPH.

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A bit of history on the Aichi D3A

The Aichi D3A Type 99 (Allied name Val) was an Imperial Japanese Navy carrier borne attack bomber that instantly became infamous with the Dec 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.  The design was the result of a 1936 IJN request for a modern, long range attack and dive bomber capable of operating off of IJN carrier decks.  
 The prototype first flew in 1937 and was found to wholly unsatisfactory, which meant a major redesign. The aircraft was slow, underpowered, had poor maneuverability, and was directionally unstable. After the redesign to include a much more powerful engine, all issues were fixed except for the directional stability, which was later solved on the -1 with a long strake ahead of the fin.  
  The D3A1 became famous literally overnight as it was one half of the two pronged air attack on Pearl Harbor which seriously crippled the US Pacific Fleet.  
 The D3A served throughout the entire Pacific war, and was used in every major Naval Aviation operation by the IJN. It proved to vulnerable to attack due to its light construction and lack of armor plate, self sealing fuel tanks, and a total offensive gun capability of three .303 caliber machine guns: two fixed in the cowl to fire forward, and one for the observer on a flexible mount. . However, the D3A turned out to be a quite competent dogfighter due to it’s uncanny maneuverability. 

   The Kit.

Infinity Models announced last year that their next release will be the Aichi D3A1 Val, which would then be followed by the Nakajima B5N2 Kate, the other half of the double pronged attack on Pearl. 
Large scale modelers worldwide have been hoping for these two aircraft in 1/32 scale for many years, but until HPH announced it in their Infinity line as a short run kit, no manufacturers showed the slightest interest.  If you want a large scale Val, here it is!

There have been many negative comments from modelers who claim to have had major issues with Infinity Models kits. Poor fit, incorrect parts, etc. Most swipes were unfair, but a couple had merit.  However, there have been fixes published here, which now prepare a builder for that to expect and how to fix it. 

   So How Does it Stack up, Compared to the Previous Infinity releases?

Well, let’s look….  
The box itself is typical Infinity:  Sturdy! A beautiful full colorblind painting of the aircraft in action over Pearl Harbor is on the box top.  A small logo proudly announces that the model is a product of the Czech Republic, and another small logo states that the plastic is provided by HPH.





The side of the box let’s it be known that this kit is not for beginners.


        Instruction booklet 

The instruction booklet is a well organized and attractive presentation in standard 8 1/2 x 11, and is offered in well drawn black line isometric illustrations. A brief history of the type is provided on the front cover, in Czech and English.  
PaInt call outs are given in MRP and AK codes. Cross referencing to Gunze, Tamiya, Mission, or any others is simple enough. 



The wing alignment should be pretty easy here, or at least easier than most short run kits.  The wing is held steady by a massive u shaped spar that holds the center section to the outer wings.


         The Sprues.

Plastic is offered on 8 sprues of light neutral grey styrene along with one sprue of clear parts that appear beautifully clear.  Two small PE frets are included that mostly include seat belt parts. 
All moveable control surfaces, including the flaps, are molded separate so they can be posed off neutral.  


One HUGE improvement Infinity has achieved is a great reduction in the size of the sprue attach points to small, fragile parts.  Well done, HPH, this right here is a huge improvement.  The plastic itself reminds me of IBG Models, or even Mini Art.  The texture is smooth, molding details are superb, and the plastic is not quite Hasegawa hard. When shilling parts, it cuts positively. No shattering, a d NO mashing of a part because of soft plastic  



The instrument board is decently molded, and should respond well to paint and kit decals. If you’re like me, Airscale decals will work as well.



Closed canopy is provided molded shut, or a multiple part open unit  


There are lots and lots of molded on details, and much more to add.  Some mold marks do exist, but that’s simply discoloration  


Fuselage interior shows a lot of detail.  Ribs are provided individually for the builder to install.   Ejector pin marks, are, thankfully, few and far between. 



There has been a lot of online griping on the various forums regarding test build pictures posted online, regarding supposedly excessive oil canning. I’m glad to point out that those people knew not of what they whined about, because the surface it textured with a slight oilcan effect, it’s VERY mild, and will look superb under paint. 
I expect the din of those people will never go away, so my advice is to simply ignore them



Fuselage oilcanning looks really, really nice. A coat of primer and paint will tone it down nicely. Be careful on the washes, this detail means lots of spots for it to collect, and it’ll overdo the effect.

I will point out the only place where the Sprue gates ARE too big: on the fuselage. They’re huge, but being where they are, it’s an easy clean up.


Wheels and spats look great. Unladen spatless gear legs are also provided for those who like going in the nude. 


The wheels come in two halves, and that detail will all be hidden behind the spats  


A close up of the wing texture.  There was bound to be oilcanning on these aircraft, as they were VERY lightly built.


The engine itself looks decent, with a nice gearbox and reduction drive, along with decent intake pipes.  The exhaust itself is closed off on the end, so you’ll need to either hollow it out, or install a resin replacement part, available from HPH. 






The VERY prominent prop hub. The D3A1 is not use a spinner over the hub and it’s counterbalance weights. A spinner is included, though, in case you are modeling an aircraft that had been retrofitted  



The spinner, which wasn’t factory equipment till the D3A2


A personal nit to pick.  The cowl flaps are molded shut. I like open cowl flaps.  I expect the aftermarket will supply them to those who want them.



More small parts. Fuselage ribs, and interior goodies.  I think, at least looking at what I see here, this kit is going to be a real winner!   Assuming it all fits, Infinity may be easily the most improved kit maker I’ve ever seen.  This looks GREAT, y’all, and I have a feeling I may have bought some unneeded AM. 
Yes, there is a bit of flash to trim, but such is the case with short run kits.  





          Color schemes and decals

Infinity offers two color schemes in the kit. The fist is what I would call the classic Pear Harbor raid scheme of IJN light grey with an off black cowl. 
The aircraft pictured includes decals for one operating from IJN Kaga on Dec 7, 1941.  
We’ve all seen the pictures of the light grey Vals attacking Battleship Row, a d this is what pops into my mind when I think “Pearl Harbor.”  Well, this, and Arizona exploding  



The second scheme is a bit different, and oneI have never seen before; a green D3A operating from IJN Soryu on Dec 7, 1941.  I have a feeling there will be more than a few of this scheme built.



The decal sheet is nice.  Having built the Helldiver, and with Smitty having built the Meteor, I can attest to Infinity’s decals being really, really nice.  They’re in register, they’re thin, tough, and settle down nicely under Micro Sol.





One strange spot that has me scratching my head.  
Where the sprue attaches to the dorsal fin, the gate is heavy.  The fuselage sides are the only areas with heavy sprue gates, but this area has an oddball flow pattern.  It almost looks intentional, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t.  Thankfully, it’s a 30 second swipe with a sanding stick.  Area affected? About 3/8 inch. 





So, being that Infinity has developed a (mostly) underserved bad reputation, I wanted to go a bit further here, and show you if, in fact, stuff actually fits together.  Are the fuselage sides the same size?  Are the bulkheads actually for the D3A1, or instead, fo, say, a Fokker Trimotor?  
Let’s see….



VERY nice here.



A bit of a gap here, but the assembly has been quick with no attempt to line it up perfectly. No matter, a bit of Evergreen if needed, and this is the best place to deal with it  





Tell me this doesn’t look good?  It has really nice fit down here.



The wing roots show a bit of a gap, but I have a sneaking suspicion these will close up nicely once the big spar is installed  


A nice, sturdy lip is provided to aid in wing root alignment  



Look at that surface detail!  







      Bulkheads and Cockpit Floor.

The Helldiver bulkheads needed rework, (heavy sanding), but can be made to fit.  So, just to see where we’re at when it comes to these. 
The fuselage has three main bulkheads, plus a firewall and cockpit floor.  I installed them without any cleanup other than cutting off the sprue nubbies and insuring the edges were square.  Absolutely NO other prep was performed.


These just drop into place  





With the bulkheads, floor, and bottom center section.  VERY nice fit so far  I tried the center section to verify it’s not pushing the fuselage out. 
It’s Not. 





Well, at first glance, and as I got a bit further into it, this kit had been planned, thought out, developed, engineered, and kitted by people who really like doing that they do.  Gone are the few issues that plagued the first two releases: incorrect parts, parts way too big or way too small, massive sprue gates on tiny parts, etc.

I found one, yes, ONE issue, and that was a half inch area with plastic that needs knocking down flush on the dorsal fin. 
The surface detail is superb, stuff appears to fit, decals look great, instructions are awesome, and we have two VERY classic Type 99 schemes.

I see very little need for aftermarket:  maybe some cowl flaps, that’s it. I’d grab a few of the smaller accessory packs from HPH:  the 3D printed rear .303, some resin exhausts, HGW seatbelts, and maybe the PE panel just because I like PE.  
Other than that, I’d build this out of the box.  It’s that nice.

 I’d dare say that this kit maybe the kit to save Infinity.  This is a gloriously nice kit, and as soon as I find the Hurricane landing light I dropped on the floor, I’ll finish my Hurricane and jump right on this.

I want this done for the IPMS-USA Nationals this year.


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Great review Ernie. The tape up shows the huge strides that HpH have made in quality. They're like most other kit makers that have improved with each new release. 

As for subject matter, I'm still a bit on the fence. I may just get the kit to support them and hope they continue making IM kits. They did say they were considering a Savoia S21 from Porco Rosso which is one I'd get in a heartbeat (apparently they've done it in their 1/18 series). And of course the Beaufighter. 

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I must be the only guy in the world who is not sent into hot flashes by the Beaufighter.  To me, it’s cool and all, but I also remember people talking about it as a widowmaker.  A very large number of crews set out in one, doing U-Boat suppression patrols, and just plain disappeared.  No log references from U Boat Commanders or German radio intercepts, nothing.  Liberators may have occasionally been the losers in some gunfights with U Boats, (not normally, though) but they generally made a big enough of a stink that U Boat Commanders were able to talk to their bases. 

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Great Review, Ern.  Thank you!  I reckon it looks like a cracker of a kit.  I want one, but may have to put it on my Christmas wish list.

The  Beaufighter is cool and all...   But it's like every other twin engined plane...   too big for my house.  I'm only gonna allow one multi engined 1/32 kit to enter my house...    the flying clog.  Otherwise, I can get my jollies on the ton of 1/48 twins out there.

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Thanks for taking the time for such a deep dive on the model . It looks a big aircraft for sure, and I'm not sure I'd ever get the urge to build it . 

My observation is that the canopy look a bit thick ?, is this the case or just the light on the photo ? 

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3 hours ago, PanzerWomble said:

Thanks for taking the time for such a deep dive on the model . It looks a big aircraft for sure, and I'm not sure I'd ever get the urge to build it . 

My observation is that the canopy look a bit thick ?, is this the case or just the light on the photo ? 

I’m unsure why the open canopy didn’t get published, but here it is.  In person, it seems normal.  The canopy is a lot less tall than the Helldiver, so it might look a bit thick, but it’s actually quite nice. 





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thanks for posting, this is definitely my next purchase. I know very little about this aircraft but already can see the only sticking point will be which scheme to build. I think you are right Ernie, the green one is appealing.


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Thanks Ern …

It looks like your typical limited run kit - but with lots of extra detail … the price is about right I’d say, on par with current price increases across the board and given that it’s a limited run kit so bound to be more expensive also.

Had this one on reserve with the local hobby store for the last year and it should be arriving in the next month …

If I can get away with my usual brass barrels upgrades, I’ll be happy … tho I may shell out for some hollow exhaust tips.

Rog :)

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  • 4 weeks later...
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A few more thoughts on this Infinity kit for those who are not following my ongoing build of this kit.

This kit is literally head and shoulders over any of the previous Infinity kits.  It’s turning into a semi relaxing, extremely rewarding build of a very intelligently thought out, planned, and engineered short run kit.

Yes, because it IS short run, there will be parts clean up, mating surface trueing, and even a bit of parts thinning needed. Flash IS present, especially on some smaller parts and the control surfaces.  There are mold mating lines that need careful scraping off, and of course there are no assembly guide pins. 
So slowly, go carefully, text fit, test fit, test fit 3 steps ahead while building an assembly, read my build thread and I give a few alternate build sequences that may help, and I believe that because I am almost finished the airframe, I can safely say that this kit is quite achievable by any modeler with a few mainline kits under their belt.  This kit may be a great candidate for a modeler’s first short run kit, it’s that decent.  For the most part, things fit, and fit better than any short run kit I’ve ever built, except the Special Hobby Buffalo, and that’s only almost an equal to this. It doesn’t have separate control surfaces, so it loses points from me there. 
The only reason I’d say do the Buffalo first is the included resin parts, and the smaller size. You need to buy any resin you want to add to the Infinity kit, although it’s not really needed.

Plus, on the Infinity kit, and this is a BIG plus, ALL control surfaces are separate. No cutting, filling, manufacturing, filling, sanding, filling, sanding, scribing needed. 😂

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