Here is my just completed Aichi D3A1 Type 99 dive bomber, AKA “Val”. It is a Hasegawa 1/48 scale kit, no ‘aftermarket' stuff unless you count the seat belts which are aftermarket masking tape, or some of the markings, which I painted instead of using the kit decals. This is marked as a plane from the Shokaku and is my first Axis model.
These planes seem to me almost as some legendary mythical winged predators.. that is to me in my world today, in 2014, they truly roamed and preyed, as they say in a movie “a long time ago and far, far away”. I say that because despite the huge impact these ‘Vals' had, they are not subject of lots of media, reading material etc and though research on them is out there, it is not as plentiful as say, the Dauntless. I cannot find an actual color photograph of a real “Val”, my mental image of them is black and white, newsreel type imagery – So… trying to decide what color to paint it was an issue. The kit box has very nice artwork that makes it look silvery gray, is it ‘natural metal'? Hmmm…the instructions say it is a greenish gray. I've seen photos of models done that way and also more normal gray. I also know some later ones were painted dark green. I really didn't like all those options. To my mind, in my mental black & white newsreel image of these they are metal…like the famous Pearl Harbor attack photos I've seen often. Well…not to upset those who are adamant about hysterical…er ….historical accuracy, I painted it Model Master buffable metalizer aluminum plate from a rattle can, because I wanted it to look metal, like my mental B&W image, and to justify it I will say I did read that they were delivered to the Japanese Navy in natural metal finish and in October 1941 orders came down to paint them…that will have to do to hang my hat on for not painting it gray or that sickly looking greenish gray!
I made a bold move for me, and opened the cowl flaps..that went pretty well and I only broke two of them off before I figured out how to bend them without breaking them. Also since I never know in advance how terrible the decals will be, I paint what I can - stripes and spats decorations in this case (read below things I painted that I didn't plan to...)
The kit fits together well, but there were some ‘operator errors' in its assembly. Here's the big one: See the circular red insignias under the wings? There are decals under the paint there. Why is there red paint over them? I will admit my boneheadedness and offer this advice: When you go to spray the ‘Dullcoat' can on after you've assembled and decaled almost everything …(jeez I can be sooo dumb….) BE SURE to actually pick up the right can! I was all ready to spray Dullcoat on it Sunday evening when my wife said “let's eat supper”. So I put it down and put the can of Dullcoat down too – right beside the can of ‘Model Master buffable metalizer aluminum plate'…after eating supper when I went back, guess which can I picked up? I try hard to watch my language, being a dad and all, but it really tested me when I saw that big red circle decal that I thought went on so well, turn silver….and the bombs, bomb racks, wheels, etc….thankfully it wasn't olive drab or blue or some other totally different color. I am only relating this because I want to make others feel better about their own mistakes – ha! Unless I am the only one who ever does stuff like that!
So I was on track for a model I really liked and was aiming to give myself an “A” on it, when that happened and what you see is my best efforts to recover from my own big ol' dumb mistake.
But, I really wanted to do a Japanese plane and chose this one, and am happy with the end result and again appreciate the opportunity to share it here with the esteemed craftsmen who frequent iModeler. Hope you like it.