Aichi D3A

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The Aichi D3A (Allied codename: “Val”) was a two-seat dive bomber flown by the Japanese Navy in World War II, and for the first half of the war, Japan’s main carrier-borne dive bomber. It could carry a 550 lb bomb under the centerline and two 110 lb bombs under the wings. Defensive armament consisted of two forward-firing machine guns in the wings and one flexible machine gun operated by the back seat gunner. Vals were active in every major naval battle of the first year of the war, including Pearl Harbor, the Coral Sea, Midway, and the carrier actions at Guadalcanal. In addition, in April 1942, carrier-borne Vals sank the British aircraft carrier Hermes and two British heavy cruisers during a foray into the Indian Ocean. The Val was a rugged and maneuverable aircraft, and in the first year of the war, had a bombing accuracy of 80%. Like most Japanese aircraft, however, it lacked armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, leading to heavy pilot losses. Like its German counterpart, the Stuka, the Val had fixed landing gear, greatly aiding recognition by Allied pilots.


  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Combat Aircraft of World War II, by Bill Gunston, Salamander Military Press, 1990


Further reading

Fist from the Sky, Japan's Dive-bomber Ace of WWII, by Peter C. Smith, Stackpole Books, 2005 (biography of Japan's greatest Val pilot, with a focus on the first six months of the war)