Aichi D3A Val
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Aichi D3A Val

Although thought to be obsolescent when Japan entered the war, the Aichi D3A with fixed spatted landing gear was the first Japanese aircraft to drop bombs on American targets when aircraft of this type took part in the great raid on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Designed to a 1936 carrier-based dive-bomber requirement, the prototype was flown in January 1938 with a 530kW Nakajima Hikari 1 Radial. Production D3A1 aircraft had slightly smaller wings and were powered by the 745kW Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 radial. A dorsal fin extension considerably improved the aircraft's manoeuvrability, although the armament of only two forward-firing 7.7mm machine-guns, with another of the same calibre in the rear cockpit, was undeniably puny. After limited land-based operations in China and Indo-China, D3As were flown in all major carrier actions during the first 10 months of the war and sank more Allied naval vessels than any other Axis aircraft. Among British casualties in D3A1 attacks were HMS Hermes (the world's first carrier to be sunk by carrier aircraft), and the cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire. Heavy losses among D3Als during and after the Battle of the Coral Sea, however, forced withdrawal by most of the survivors to land bases. In 1942 the D3A2 was introduced with increased fuel capacity and more powerful engine, but by 1944 the aircraft were hopelessly outclassed by American fighters; a small number was subsequently employed in kamikaze attacks. Production amounted to 476 D3Als and 1,016 D3A2. The Allied reporting name was 'Val'.

Aichi D3A Val

 ENGINE1 x Mitsubishi Kensei-53, 750kW
    Take-off weight3650 kg8047 lb
    Empty weight2408 kg5309 lb
    Wingspan14.36 m47 ft 1 in
    Length10.20 m33 ft 6 in
    Height3.85 m13 ft 8 in
    Wing area34.9 m2375.66 sq ft
    Max. speed385 km/h239 mph
    Cruise speed295 km/h183 mph
    Ceiling9300 m30500 ft
    Range1500 km932 miles
 ARMAMENT3 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1 x 250-kg bomb, 2 x 60-kg bombs

Aichi D3A ValA three-view drawing (752 x 989)

David Green, 20.11.2014

One thing that must be remembered is the Japanese misinformation practice. It was common practice to under rate the actual ability of their equipment. Japanese aircraft torpedoes weighed 850 kg to 1100 kg yet attack bombers have listed bomb loads of 800 kg. After reviewing the inventory of Japanese navy bombs and the performance of the D3A2 it should be able to handle a No.50 (500 kg) bomb as long as no wing bombs are carried. The use of wing bombs is normal for attacking land targets, while when attacking ships only a single center bomb would be carried.

BHH, 17.04.2014

@Mykola- Only if the enemy were Somalian pirates in fishing boats.

CHUCKF*****NORRIS, 14.03.2014


Klaatu83, 22.06.2013

It has often been alleged that this aircraft was vulnerable to AA fire and Allied fighters. That was based upon the fact that the D3A, along with many other Japanese aircraft types of the period, lacked armor protection for the crews and fuel tanks, and was provided with inadequate defensive armament.

Klaatu83, 22.06.2013

Early in the war it was alleged that this airplane was a Japanese copy of the German Junkers Ju87 "Stuka", probably due to the fact that it was a dive-bomber with a spatted fixed landing gear and because of the configuration of the cockpits. However, that belief had absolutely no basis in fact, as an examination of D3As shot down at Pearl Harbor soon showed.

Barry, 13.03.2012

Planes of Fame founder Ed Maloney is restoring a Val at their base in Chino Ca. This is along term project but he has said that it is the intention to get it back to flying condition.

MARINER, 29.01.2012


bombardier, 25.05.2011

The Stuka of the Pacific

Mykola, 25.09.2010

I think it is so good that some navy might use it today!

leo rudnicki, 10.04.2009

It has been said that the 250kg bomb was not effective on armored capitol ships but the Imperial Navy pilots were the most highly trained and wasted fewer bombs than anyone else. The loss of the six carrier aircrews at Coral Sea and Midway was far more important than the machinery. Later pilots were not nearly as good. Dauntless carried a bigger bomb,not as far, and undertrained pilots from Midway had no effect. Well trained pilots from American carriers off Midway changed history.

Hiroyuki Takeuchi, 30.01.2009

The D3A is sometimes said to have sunk more Allied ships than did any single Axis type, though I do not know what data backs this up. But it certainly achieved a number of successes in the early part of the war. Purely in terms of performance and combat effectivenss, I think the contemporary SBD was superior.

Tony, 27.01.2009

Yes, one cannot say the Val was outclassed by fighters. It was a bomber. Perhaps one could say it had become vulnerable to fighters

Mick Dunne, 29.12.2007

Come on! All aircraft of this type were "hopelessly outclassed" by allied fighters! Like the Nell, Betty and Kate, the Val was designed as part of a very efficient WEAPONS SYSTEM that incorporated the Zero. This was a VERY good Naval Dive Bomber and it sure made its mark in the Pacific War.

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