Aichi D3A1 "Val"
by Ian Robertson
The Aichi D3A "Val" is easily identified by its oval-tapered wings and main control surfaces, fixed landing gear with cumbersome wheel pods, and dive brakes beneath the wings. The Val was used to good effect in the attack at Pearl Harbour late in 1941, but by 1943 its effectiveness as a dive bomber waned due to a lack of skilled pilots and better allied fighters.
I built the Hasegawa's 1/48 D3A1 "Val" in the markings of Lt. Commander Egusa's aircraft from the carrier Soryu during the attack of Ceylon in March 1942. Some sources, including Hasegawa's instructions, indicate that this particular aircraft also participated in the attack at Pearl Harbour but if this were the case it was the only green Val noted on the mission, which casts some doubt on its participation. Egusa did fly in the Pearl Harbour attack, but may have been in a differently marked aircraft (for more information see Peter Scott's article in Scale Aircraft Modelling, Vol 21, No. 12, pp 640-653). In any case, the aircraft represents a unique and colourful scheme for modelers.
I built my model more or less out of the box, the only additions being etched brass seatbelts and circular gunsights. Overall fit was superb. The cockpit is well detailed but I found the rear gunner's seat to be tricky to position. The canopy is excellent and easily displayed either open or closed.
The upper surfaces were painted JNAF Green with a blue-black cowl. The undersides were painted a mixture of light gull grey (40%), white (20%), yellow (10%), light brown (10%), soviet interior green (20%). All red areas on the model were painted using signal red enamel, including the hinomarus and markings on the landing gear pods. The yellow and blue stripes are kit-supplied decals. They went on reasonably well using decal setting solution only (I find that Hasegawa decals react adversely to decal softeners). The propeller blades were painted with SnJ aluminum metalizer on the front surfaces and flat black on the back (say that 10 time quickly) surfaces.
I did not weather this model as heavily as some of my other Japanese navy aircraft (i.e., Grace and Jill). I reasoned that aircraft earlier in the war would have been treated with higher quality paints and better maintenance between missions than late war aircraft. A silver pencil was used to create small areas of chipped and worn paint.
The figure is from Jaguar. The carrier deck is made from thin strips of wood purchased from a model railway hobby shop.
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Model, Text and Images Copyright © 2000 by Ian