Aichi D3A1 ”Val” (艦爆), Midway Island, Hasegawa, 1/48
This is my Hasegawa 1/48 Aichi D3A1 Val, built as part of The Empire of Japan 1919 – 1946 Group Build, here on iModeler.
The Aichi D3A Type 99 Carrier Bomber (Allied reporting name “Val”) was a World War II carrier-borne dive bomber. It was the primary dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and was involved in almost all IJN actions, including the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Aichi D3A was the first Japanese aircraft to bomb American targets in the war, commencing with Pearl Harbor and U.S. bases in the Philippines, such as Clark Air Force Base. Vals sank more Allied warships than any other Axis aircraft.
The pilot position was equipped with a telescopic gunsight which was used for aiming the bomb during the dive. The observer position was equipped with a drift sight, which was a long vertical tube located in the front-left of the observer’s seat. In addition, the observer position was equipped with a drift meter that was mounted on the floor in the front-right of the observer’s seat. The observer also operated a radio set that was mounted in front of the observer’s seat and behind the pilot’s seat. On top of the radio set was a reflector compass for precise navigation.
Armament was two fixed forward-firing 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine guns, and one flexible 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine gun at the rear end of cockpit. Normal bomb load was a single 250 kg bomb carried under the fuselage, swung out under the propeller on release by a trapeze. Two additional 60 kg bombs could be carried on wing racks located under each wing outboard of the dive brakes.
The D3A1 commenced carrier qualification trials aboard the aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga during 1940, while a small number of aircraft made their combat debut from land bases over China. Starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the D3A1 took part in all major Japanese carrier operations in the first 10 months of the war.
During 1942, dive bombing attacks by D3A bombers significantly contributed to sinking of three US fleet carriers: Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Yorktown at the Battle of Midway and Hornet at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. In addition, they damaged carrier Enterprise both at the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
Discounting the Pearl Harbor strike, which also used the B5N for level bombing and torpedo attacks, Val dive bombers were credited with sinking the following Allied warships:
USS Peary, American destroyer, 19 February 1942 – Australia (Darwin)
USS Pope, American destroyer, 1 March 1942 – Pacific Ocean
USS Edsall, American destroyer, 1 March 1942- Pacific Ocean
USS Pecos, American oiler, 1 March 1942- Pacific Ocean
HMS Cornwall, British heavy cruiser, 5 April 1942 – Indian Ocean
HMS Dorsetshire, British heavy cruiser, 5 April 1942 – Indian Ocean
HMS Hector, British armed merchant cruiser, 5 April 1942 – Indian Ocean
HMS Tenedos, British destroyer, 5 April 1942 – Indian Ocean
HMS Hermes, British aircraft carrier, 9 April 1942 – Indian Ocean
HMAS Vampire, Australian destroyer, 9 April 1942 – Indian Ocean
USS Sims, American destroyer, 7 May 1942 – Pacific Ocean
USS De Haven, American destroyer, 1 February 1943 – Pacific Ocean
USS Aaron Ward, American destroyer, 7 April 1943 – Pacific Ocean
USS Brownson, American destroyer, 26 December 1943 – Pacific Ocean
USS Abner Read, American destroyer, sunk by kamikaze 1 November 1944 – Pacific Ocean
USS William D. Porter, American destroyer, sunk by kamikaze 10 June 1945 – Japan (Okinawa)
As the war progressed, there were instances when the Vals were pressed into duty as fighters in the interceptor role, their maneuverability being enough to allow them to survive in this role.
I bought this kit during the Golden Ages of my shelf of doom creation and augmentation, which was about 15 years ago. It looks typical amazing Hasegawa, very promising in the box, totally sufficient for a less than average OOB builder, like yours trully.
The cockpit is super, with plenty of detail, and frankly few will ask for PEresinish extras. I started from there and proceeded to the rest of the build. Everything went together nicely: smoother than Carlos Santana’s “Smooth”. No real remarks whatsoever, everything could be tackled by an average modeler.
I finished my Val as AI-251, onboard carrier Akagi, green over grey, leading aircraft of the dive bombers that attacked Midway, piloted by Lieutenant Takehiko Chihaya with a group of 35 other Vals. Used the very old kit decals that took centuries to detach from their backing sheet, but behaved well afterwards. Did subtle chipping and weathering.
This kit went together like a dream. It is now my second proud member of the amazing and addicting Empire of Japan group build. Thanks Louis Gardner @lgardner for the creation, the warm welcome and the all along support.
You can read the full build journal here:
16 additional images. Click to enlarge.