Aichi D3A 'Val'
Although not a particularly powerful, or technologically advanced aircraft the Aichi D3A Val managed to come as a shock to the Americans when it spearheaded the attack on the American Fleet at Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941. For the year following Pearl Harbour the Val (protected by Zero fighters) ruled supreme devastating Allied shipping in the South-West Pacific and Indian oceans. This was to last only until it started to come across well defended ships and better Allied fighters and by 1943 the Val had had its day and was no longer feared. The initial shock was mainly due to very poor allied intelligence which had virtually no information on Japanese aircraft and grossly underestimated them. The 'Val' gained its code name from the American system of naming enemy fighters after short boys names , trainers after trees and giving girl's names to bombers. The Val was designed by Tokuhishiro Goake and had an elliptical wing, and no internal bomb storage it also had non retractable landing gear much like the German Stuka dive bomber. Since it was intended as a carrier aircraft the tips of the wings folded for storage. The prototype first flew in 1938 with carrier trials in 1940 and flew operationally during missions in China and Indo-China a fact missed by US intelligence. At Pearl Harbour 126 Val dive bombers took part and the Japanese had over 250 in service by mid 1942. By this period losses were heavy and by 1944 only kamikaze suicide versions were in frontline service. Around 1,495 were finally produced.
Max speed; 389km/h(242mph)
max range; 1473km (915miles).
Weapon load; x2 forward firing 7.7mm machine guns plus x1 7.7 mm aimed by observer, x1 250kg(55lb) bomb under main body plus x2 60kg (132lb) bombs under the wings (1 per wing).
How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (20 May 2001), Aichi D3A 'Val', http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapon_aichiD3A.html