SkyMax Models SM5001 Imperial Japanese Navy Aichi D3A1 Val Dive-Bomber - Lt. Commander Egusa, Aircraft Carrier Soryu, Ceylon, March 1942 (1:72 Scale)
"The most dangerous moment of the War, and the one which caused me the greatest alarm, was when the Japanese Fleet was heading for Ceylon and the naval base there. The capture of Ceylon, the consequent control of the Indian Ocean, and the possibility at the same time of a German conquest of Egypt would have closed the ring and the future would have been black."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
The Aichi D3A (Allied code name "Val") was a World War II dive bomber produced by the Aichi company in Japan. It was the primary carrier-borne dive bomber in the Imperial Japanese Navy in the early stages of the war, and participated in almost all actions, including Pearl Harbor.
In mid-1936, the Japanese Navy issued the 11-Shi specification for a monoplane carrier-based dive bomber to replace the existing D1A biplanes currently in service. Aichi, Nakajima and Mitsubishi all submitted designs, and Aichi and Nakajima were both asked for two prototypes each.
The Aichi design started with low-mounted elliptical wings inspired by the Heinkel He 70 Blitz. The fuselage looked quite similar to the A6M Zero, although the entire plane was built stronger to withstand the rigours of dive bombing. It flew slowly enough that the drag from the landing gear was not a serious issue, so fixed gear were used for simplicity. The plane was to be powered by the 529 kW (710 hp) Nakajima Hikari 1 nine-cylinder radial engine.
The first prototype was completed in December 1937, and flight trials began a month later. Initial tests were disappointing. The aircraft was underpowered and suffered from directional instability in wide turns, and in tighter turns, it tended to snap roll. The dive brakes vibrated heavily when extended at their design speed of 370 km/h (200 kn), and the Navy was already asking for a faster diving speed of 240 kn (440 km/h).
The second aircraft was extensively modified prior to delivery to try to address the problems. Power was increased by replacing the Hikari with the 626 kW (840 hp) Mitsubishi Kinsei 3 in a redesigned cowling, and the vertical tail was enlarged to help with the directional instability. The wings were slightly larger in span and the outer sections of the leading edges had wash-out to combat the snap rolls, and strengthened dive brakes were fitted. These changes cured all of the problems except the directional instability, and it was enough for the D3A1 to win over the Nakajima D3N1.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of an Imperial Japanese Navy Aichi D3A1 Val dive-bomber which was piloted by Lt. Commander Egusa, who was embarked upon the Aircraft Carrier Soryu as it sortied near Ceylon during March 1942.
Wingspan: 7.75 inches
Length: 5.5 inches
Release Date: November 2009
Historical Account: "Easter Sunday" - The Easter Sunday Raid was an air raid carried out by Japanese forces on Easter Sunday, April 5th, 1942, against Colombo and a few days later on Trincomalee as a part of commerce raiding and the hunt for the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean.
Although the military effect of the raid was substantial (as it resulted in the sinking of several ships including two cruisers and a aircraft carrier), the effect on the Ceylonese population was far greater as they had heard of the Nanjing Massacres and of the act of brutality of the Japanese in occupied counties. The civilian population began a panicked fleeing of Colombo and of Ceylon by boats to India following the raid. Such was the panic amongst the British and Ceyloniese that a large turtle which came ashore was reported by an Australian unit as a number of Japanese amphibious vehicles.