On 7 December 1941, 126 Aichi D3A 1 s (Allied code name Val) left their carriers for Pearl Harbor. The Val was the first aircraft bearing the insignia of the Rising Sun to bomb US shipping in WWII.
Design of the Aichi D3A began in 1936 when the Japanese Imperial Navy invited bids to replace the aging D1A2 biplane dive bombers. The D3A was an all metal low-wing monoplane powered by a 1000 hp radial engine. The wings were elliptical with aerodynamic brakes similar to those found on the Junkers Ju 87.
In addition to the role it played in the destruction of the US battleships at Pearl Harbor, the Val was credited with sinking the cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire and the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. The D3A 1 version fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea, scoring 3 hits on the USS Yorktown. During the same battle, Vals were credited with sinking a US destroyer and a tanker.
After August 1942 an improved model, the D3A2, began appearing. With a larger 1,300 hp engine and in- creased fuel capacity, it was a significant improvement over the D3A 1. The last major carrier battle between Japan and the U.S. was in June 1944. Twenty-seven D3A2's flew into the Battle of the Marianas, where they were all shot down, along with hundreds of other Japanese aircraft in what would later be known as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot." Although the Aichi D3A was credited with sinking more tonnage than any other Axis aircraft, the type failed to score even one hit on that fateful day.
Planes of Fame Air Museum's Val is a D3A2, and is currently under restoration to flight status. It will be the only flyable Val in the world.
Status: Restoring to Flight
Manufacturer: Aichi Kokuki KK
Model: D3A2 Val
Registration Number: N3131G
Max T/O Weight: 8,378 lb.
Span: 47 ft. 8 in.
Length: 33 ft. 5 in.
Height: 12 ft. 8 in.
Maximum Speed: 267 mph
Cruise Speed: 139 mph
Rate of Climb: 1,869 ft/min
Power Plant: 1 x Mitsubishi Kinsei 54, 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 1,300 hp.
Range: 840 miles
Service Ceiling: 34,450 ft.
Armament: Two forward and one rear 7.7-mm machine guns, one 550 lb. bomb.