Aichi D3A1 Val
JNAF Dive Bomber
By Stephen Sherman, Dec. 2009. Updated January 26, 2012.
On December 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Val became the first aircraft ever to drop bombs on American targets.
Six squadrons of Vals participated in the attack, and succeeded in doing extensive damage to the U.S. battleships in the harbor.
The Val was a very stable bombing platform with surprisingly good maneuverability for a fixed-gear dive bomber. Like most Japanese planes, however, the Val was inadequately supplied with armor and lacked self-sealing tanks. This made them very easy to blow up with a short burst from heavy machine guns.
Entering service before Pearl Harbor, its design traced its roots back to the early 1930s. After the middle of 1943, most Vals were replaced by Judys in front-line units. Due to the desperation of the JNAF in 1944 and 1945, however, many Vals continued to see combat in land-based units. By this time, they were hopelessly obsolete and proved to be easy prey for US Navy's Hellcats and Corsairs.
Type: Dive bomber
Japanese Designation: Type 99
Wingspan: 47.1 ft.
Weight Empty: 5,309 lbs.
Weight Loaded: 8,047 lbs.
Power Plant: One 1,080 hp. Mitsubishi Kinsei 44 air-cooled radial.
Ordnance: Up to 800 pounds of bombs
Top Speed: 268 mph
Ceiling: 30,050 ft.
Climb Rate: 1,950 ft./min.
Source: Defunct Geocities website, Air War Over the Pacific