Calendar Plane of the Month December: Aichi D3A1 Val

We have actually caught up with Calendar Plane of the Month from the splendid Airfix Model World calendar.  We already have the 2013 edition.

This is certainly a model we never made as we had no interest in Japanese aircraft when we were small.  It is a Stuka-like dive bomber but was actually inspired by the Heinkel He 70 mail plane.  The winner of a 1936 competition to design a dive bomber for the Imperial Japanese Navy, it beat off competition from Mitsubishi and Nakajima.  Its official name was Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber Model 11.  The designation "Val" being the allied reporting name.  The Japanese naming system for aircraft was so confusing that Captain Frank T McCoy a US naval intelligence officer working in Australia at the time came up with a series of easier to remember designations based, largely on men and women's names.  The Val took its name from an Australian Army Sergeant he knew.  

Val by Roy Cross

Like the Stuka it did not have a retractable undercarriage, as its top speed was so low, so needed wheel fairings to improve aerodynamics.  First seeing action in China her first carrier borne action was the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 becoming the first Japanese aircraft to drop bombs on America targets.  It sank more allied ships than any other Axis plane, notably the British heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall.  In addition, it sank the America Seaplane tender USS Langley which, before its conversion, was the United States' first aircraft carrier.  It also sank the British Aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the world's first purpose built aircraft carrier.   It's not the Hermes on the 1964 box art by Roy Cross, however, as that had a very distinctive tower.

More planes in 2013!
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