The Aichi D3A Val

Japan
Japan

side view front view under view

This plane played an important role in the beginning of the Pacific War as a dive-bomber. Like it's illustrious German counterpart the "Stuka" it was designed in the mid 1930's (1936 to be precise). The Val and Stuka share a number of similarities: both are 2-seaters with fixed forward firing guns and a single flexible rearfiring gun. Also the landing gear is non-retractable. The Val however was carrier based, whereas the Stuka was only landbased. Also did the Stuka have a more powerfull engine, and the typically gull-shaped wings.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Aichi D3A Val in full flight
Aichi D3A Val in full flight

 

Technical data on the Aichi D3A2
Powerplant 1 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 54 14 cylinder radial, rated at 1300 hp (969.14 kW) Role during war
  • Dive Bomber
Length 33 ft 5.357 inch Height 12 ft 7.5 inch
Empty weight 5666 lb Operational weight 8047 lb max
Wing Span 47 ft 2 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.91
Wing Area 375.66 sq ft Service ceiling 34450 ft
Maximum speed 267 mph at 20340 ft Cruising speed 184 mph at 9845 ft
Initial climb rate 9845 ft in 5 min 48 sec Range 840 miles typical
Fuel capacity internal 237.35 Imp gal (285 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns 2 × 0.303 in fixed forward firing in upper nose,
2 × 0.303 in flexible rearward firing in rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up tot 816 lb carried on three hardpoints:
  • 1 × 551 lb under center line
  • 2 × 132 lb under wings
Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 2: pilot, radio operator/gunner Naval or ground based Naval
First flight (prototype) August 1936 Operational Service 1940 - 1945
Manufacturer Aichi Tokei Denki KK Number produced 1486 total, 1016 this version
Metric system
Length 10.19 m Height 3.85 m
Empty weight 2570 kg Operational weight 3650 kg max
Wing Span 14.38 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.91
Wing Area 34.9 m² Service ceiling 10500 m
Maximum speed 430 km/h at 6200 m Cruising speed 296 km/h at 3001 m
Initial climb rate 3000 m in 5 min 48 sec Range 1352 km typical
Fuel capacity internal 1079 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns 2 × 7.7 mm fixed forward firing in upper nose,
2 × 7.7 mm flexible rearward firing in rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up tot 370 kg carried on three hardpoints:
  • 1 × 250 kg under center line
  • 2 × 60 kg under wings
Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Aichi D3A  Val
Aichi D3A1 The D3A1 was the first production version of the "Val". It differed form the D3A2 with it's powerplant: either 1 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 14 cylinder, rated at 1,000 hp (745 Kw), or 1 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 44 14 cylinder, rated at 1,075 hp (801 Kw).
Number built: 470
Aichi D3A2 Improved version of the Aichi D3A1. For details see above
Number built: 1,016

Remarks:

The Val was initially very successfull, and sunk a number of ships during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. They sunk more Allied ships then any other type during World War 2. In the beginning of the war they had a hit ratio of over 80%, also due to the well trained crews. In the year 1942 however the weaknesses started to show: due to the slow speed they proved very vulnerable and were taken out of active duty from 1943 on. In 1945 the leftovers made a dubious comeback, this time as kamikaze planes. Even in this last role they were ineffective due to the firm air superiority the allied forces had gained.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00