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Aichi D3A (Val)

Imperial Japan (1940)
Picture of Aichi D3A (Val) Carrier-Borne Bomber / Dive Bomber
Picture of Aichi D3A (Val) Carrier-Borne Bomber / Dive Bomber

Thought to be obsolescent at the beginning of World War 2, the D3A Val none-the-less made its presence known in the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Aichi D3A (Val) Carrier-Borne Bomber / Dive Bomber.  Entry last updated on 4/11/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The D3A series of aircraft (dubbed "Val" by the Allies) were thought to be all but extinct when the war in the Pacific began. The rude awakening came in the form of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii - home to the US Navy's Pacific Fleet - as D3A's made up the principle attack air arm in that assault. Though appearing very much from the image of a bygone era of aviation, complete with a fixed undercarriage in spatted housings, the D3A was used effectively as carrier-based bombers and dive bombers in the Imperial Japanese Navy throughout the early portion of the Second World War.

Aichi (along with Nakajima and Mitsubishi) submitted their monoplane design to a 1936 Japanese Navy specification (11-Shi) for a carrier-based dive-bomber to replace the aging D1A biplane series. Only Aichi's and Nakajima's submissions were pressed for further development with the request for a full working prototype.

The initial prototype was completed in December of 1937 and first flew in 1938 and fitted with Nakajima Hikari 710 horsepower engines. Despite a poor showing, a second improved prototype was made in an attempt to address issues in stability, strength and power. The second prototype hit the mark and was selected for production over the Nakajima model. This new version from Aichi, now designated D3A1, would feature revised wings of a larger span, improved dive brakes, a 1,000 horsepower Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 radial piston engine in a redesigned cowling and improvements to maneuverability via the lengthening of the dorsal fin.
Standard armament of production models would consist of an assortment of 3 x 7.7mm machine guns. Two Type 97 Light Machine Guns were fixed to fire forward and controlled by the pilot while a single Type 92 Heavy Machine Gun was fitted in a flexible mount in the rear cockpit. As a dive bomber, the Aichi D3A could sport a single 550lb bomb under the fuselage or 2 x 130lb bombs under each wing.

Early "Vals" were flown in limited land-based operations in the Indo-China theater though the rest of the war would see them operating in unison with her Imperial Japanese Navy carrier-based counterparts. D3As, in fact, would end up being responsible for the destruction of more Allied shipping vessels than any other Axis aircraft during the war - such was the reach of this "obsolete" aircraft.

The D3A's were maintained in frontline service up until the Battle of Coral Sea which saw disastrous results for the type - effectively signaling the end of the aircraft's usefulness. Vals, therefore, were systematically phased out from much frontline action as, by 1944, the D3A was simply outclassed by the plethora of American fighters appearing throughout the theater. Many Vals therefore ended up as dual-control, two-seat trainers while some were featured in Kamikaze attacks, the latter focusing in and around the areas of Leyte and Okinawa during the final year of the war.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (267mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Aichi D3A2 (Val)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1495
1495


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: Imperial Japan
Year: 1940
Type: Carrier-Borne Bomber / Dive Bomber
Manufacturer(s): Aichi Kokuki KK - Japan
Production: 1,495
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Imperial Japan; Indonesia
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Aichi D3A2 (Val) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
33.46 ft


Meters
10.2 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
47.18 ft


Meters
14.38 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
12.63 ft


Meters
3.85 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
5,666 lb


Kilograms
2,570 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
8,378 lb


Kilograms
3,800 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Mitsubishi Kinsei 54 radial piston engine developing 1,300 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
267 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
430 kph


Knots
232 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
840 mi


Kilometers
1,352 km


Nautical Miles
730 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
34,449 ft


Meters
10,500 m


Miles
6.52 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,640 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
500 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (3):

STANDARD:
2 x 7.7mm fixed forward-firing machine guns
1 x 7.7mm trainable machine gun in rear cockpit position.

OPTIONAL:
1 x 551lb bomb under-fuselage OR 2 x 132lb bombs under wings
Variants: Series Model Variants
• D3A - Base Series Designation; prototypes fitted with 710 horsepower Nakajima Hikari radial piston engine.
• D3A1 - Initial Production Model fitted with 1,000 horsepower Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 or 1,070 horsepower Mitsubishi Kinsei 44 radial piston engines; dorsal fin extension; 476 produced.
• D3A2 - Fitted with 1,300 horsepower Kinsei 54 engine; increased fuel capacity; 1,016 produced becoming major series production version.
• D3A2-K - Trainer Model Variant; dual-controls.
• Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber Model 11 - Full Imperial Navy Designation.
• Model 12 - Designation of test D3A2.
• Model 22 - Later Model Designation of D3A2.
• Navy Type 99 Bomber Trainer Model 12 - Full Imperial Navy Designation of D3A2-K trainers.