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Spiros Pendedekas
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Aichi D3A1 ”Val” (艦爆), Midway Island, Hasegawa, 1/48

May 10, 2020 · in Aviation · · 35 · 4.3K

Hi everyone!

This is my Aichi D3A1 , 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 . Thanks Louis Gardner @lgardner for the creation, the warm welcome and the all along support.

You can read the full build journal here:

Also, build review here:

Happy modelling!

Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

16 additional images. Click to enlarge.

35 responses

  1. Well done Spiros. A nice looking machine

  2. Thanks George @blackadder57! Also for the following and support during the build.

  3. Very nice plane and background work Spiros!

  4. Nice work, Spiros!

  5. Nice job! I really like this kit. Glad the decals held!

    • Thanks Mike @mlicari ! Them decals took ages to come off their backing paper; some even refused to come off at all, so they had to be force-detached with finger applied force! Can you imagine doing this to the thin white stripes that had to be applied on the tailplane? Terrifying! Anyways, once detached they were handled with extreme care (of course) and yes, they prevailed. Oh, and they love Mr Mark Softer. Kudos to Hasegawa!

      • Yikes! That's definitely stressful. And I've ruined many a decal trying to do that (you probably had more patience that I did while soaking them!)

  6. Nice one spiros, looks awesome. Nice bit of history to.

  7. It really turned out very well, especially the underside patine. There’s something about the canopy design of the Val that gives me the impression it came from another drawing and was mistakenly added there, I know, it’s a weird opinion

    • Thanks Pedro @holzhamer! Agree with the canopy design. I could assume that the designers at that time (1936) opted for pilot and gunner visibility and also presumed that the Val would be flown with open canopies, as was the "norm" then and as it indeed happened (most Val flight photos are with open canopies). So the designers probably wouldn't bother to design an exquisite canopy that would be flown open most of the time.

  8. Beautifully done Spiros! Looks great.

  9. Sharp-looking Val, Spiros!

  10. Very well done and inspiring! I'm going to spend more time in your build journal admiring this one.

  11. Great job, it looks very nice.

  12. Spiros your Val looks great! A winner indeed. Well done!

  13. Might there be room for one more "Well done" or something like that? GR8 - and enjoyed following the progress on it in EoJ GB too. I thing I may even go as far as to click "like". . .

  14. Good work Spiros!

  15. Hey Spiros, @fiveten
    This completed Val of yours looks outstanding. I really enjoyed watching it come to life in your build journal. You did a fantastic job documenting the build, and it was also fun to read. I commend you Sir on your work. Now this one is completed, I will have to switch gears and start following the Nakajima Ki-115 build journal next...

    I am very happy to hear that you have been enjoying the EoJ group build. So have I. This group has turned out far better than my best expectations. This is in part due to people like you, who have been giving 110 percent support. Thank you !

    Your article on the D3A1 is remarkable too. I never realized just how successful the type was. I remember watching an episode on "Dogfights", where they interviewed James Swett, who was flying F4F Wildcats from Guadalcanal at the time... He shot down five (or seven I don't remember the exact figure now), of these Val's before the rear gunner in one managed to hit an oil line on his Wildcat. His story was captivating to hear and how he described the combat between men and machines. He said the Japanese pilots were very disciplined. They remained flying in formation even as they were being shot down...
    Having a photo of the pilot of your model is very nice. It adds a personal touch.

    Thanks again my friend. Keep up the great work. Well done and a great big "Liked" too.

  16. Very nice Spiros! Looks great.

  17. Another "well done" here. Who doesn't like looking at another WWII dive bomber? That bird has some big wings!

  18. Great looking Val. Nice clean finish like early war shipboard planes should be. Maintence is everything when trying to stave off salt cancer.

    • Thank you Haslam! Salt disease is something we fight even today here in Greece by washing and washing and washing...our CL firefighter planes as they typically load sea water.

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