The main Japanese Dive Bomber at the start of World War II, the Aichi D3A was a key part of the terrifyingly effective Japanese carrier force.
After the jump, a look at this very important aircraft.
The Imperial Japanese Navy and US Navy pursued dive bombing hardware and tactics for similar reasons. Aircraft carriers operate only small single-engine aircraft, which puts bombing accuracy at a premium for their small bomb loads. Naval aviation also puts a premium on targeting ships maneuvering at sea. So the US and Japan both developed weapons and tactics that were all about putting a bomb on a small moving target.
A few months ago I mentioned how the US Navy, Marines and the German Luftwaffe all utilized steep angle “hell-diving” as the best way to go about it. The Japanese chose to use a slightly shallower dive angle, usually closer to 60 degrees. But the same sort of high accuracy was achieved with a low altitude pull out, and more relentless training than any other air force. Actually, Japanese accuracy at the start of World War II was staggering. The US Navy considered 10% hits on a ship to be a good rate (plus another 10% near misses; shrapnel and mining damage from a near miss can be fully as damaging as a direct hit). So a 30 plane strike would expect three hits and three damaging near misses. When the Japanese Navy went on a raid in the Indian Ocean, in April of 1942, they sank a British Aircraft Carrier (Hermes), two heavy cruisers and a number of destroyers while achieving 70% hits. This is unparalleled and a high point for bombing accuracy prior to the use of smart bombs.
Like the American Dauntless, the Val was the most effective anti-shipping weapon of its Navy. And like the Dauntless, the Val had good handling and maneuverability; it was also used as a sort of improvised fighter on occasion. But it had lighter fire power of just two light machine guns in the cowl (7.7 mm); it was however, slightly faster.
This is the Hasegawa kit with Eagle Strike decals. It is a D3A1 based on the IJN Hiryu early in the war. Specifically, this aircraft participated in the Pearl Harbor raid. Like all the Vals from the Hiryu it was a part of the second wave that hit ships still in harbor. I don’t know the fate of this exact air frame; but this squadron went on to attack Wake Island, the Indian Ocean, and Darwin until the ship was lost at Midway.