D3A "Val" Aichi Type 99 Carrier Bomber / 愛知99式艦上爆撃機

There are certain iconic aircraft from the Pacific War. One of them is the Aichi D3A or 愛知99式艦上爆撃機 (pronounced - aichi-kyū-kyū-shiki-kanjō-bakugeki-ki)., Known as a “Kanbaku”for short by the Japanese, it was called by its code name “Val” by the Allies. The D3A was the first Japanese aircraft to bomb American targets in World War II with its participation in the Pearl Harbor attack. Some sources credit the Val with sinking more Allied warships than any other Japanese aircraft.

Zenji Abe in front of his Val shortly after the Hawaii Operation

This Val represents the aircraft crewed by pilot PO2c Gen Goto and radioman/gunner PO2c Michiji Utsugi from the carrier Akagi. Goto was part of the second wave of the attack assigned to neutralize the Marine air station at Ewa on the southwest shore of Oahu. They were the wingmen of Lieutenant Commander Zenji Abe, commander of the dive bomber forces in the second wave (Chiaki Saito, radio operator/gunner). During the attack Abe and Goto were attacked by 2LTs Kenneth Taylor and George Welch, based out of Haliewa Fighter Strip on Oahu’s north shore. During the attack Welch made a pass at Goto’s airplane and was hit by Utsugi’s rear facing 7.7mm machine gun. As Welch broke off the attack Taylor pressed home the attack wounding Utsugi and forcing Goto to make a crash landing close to the beach east of Barber’s Point.Goto pulled Utsugi from the wreckage and swam to the beach. It’s unknown whether Utsugi died in the crash or after. In any event, Goto buried Utsugi in a shallow grave on the beach and made his way inland. Using both his pistol and Utugi’s he fought off members of the Hawaiian Territorial Police and units of the 55th Coastal Artillery Regiment. Goto was finally killed late in the day on 07 December after he refused to surrender, though some accounts describe him holding out until Tuesday 09 December.

Photo of the inscription on the wreckage recovered neat Goto's crash site

In 1992 a beachcomber came across wreckage that had washed up on the beach near Barbers Point Naval Air Station after a Hurricane Iniki. The one by three foot long piece of twisted aluminum was painted gray on one side and metallic green on the other. A Japanese inscription was found on the green surface which read: 99 Naval Bomber / Aichi 3217. Subsequent research indicated that this wreckage was from Goto’s Val.
The Kit:

This Val is one of the many incarnations of the Val in 1/48 scale. It was released in the 1990s and has been reboxed with new decals at least half a dozen times. Despite it’s age it is still an example of cutting edge molding technology and utilizes engineering that is just plain clever. Three are simply no fit or ejector pin mark issues with this kit. The cockpit doesn’t benefit appreciably from the addition of photo etch or resin as it is simply excellent to begin with. The canopy parts are agreeably thin and nestle in perfectly to the fuselage. One version of the Hasegawa Val that is long out of production is the folding wing version. Try as I might I couldn’t find one at the local hobby shop or on line so I did some research and put the folding wing tips under the saw. I used Evergreen plastic for the wing spars along with sprue and lead wire for the struts and control wires.I used Tamiya acrylics almost exclusively to paint the model. I began by painting and masking the red national insignia and unit markings with Tamiya XF-X Flat Red, darkened just slightly with XF-1 Flat Black. The base color is Tamiya XF-76 IJN Grey Green. I post shaded this with the base color thinned and lightened with XF-2 Flat White. I then masked and painted the black cowling.I mixed my own “aotake”, the metallic blue colour used on Japanese aircraft, by mixing X-23 Clear Blue, X-25 Clear Green and a touch of X-24 Clear Yellow. I painted the interior wing surfaces with XF-16 Aluminium first, then the “aotake” mix. The kit bomb benefitted greatly from some photo etch parts in the Eduard PE set. The fins were also somewhat thick so I thinned these to scale with sanding sticks. Vals only carried one 250 kg bomb on the Pearl Harbor mission. The wing racks for the smaller 60 kg bombs were taken off prior to the mission leaving only the hard points showing. I replicated these with Evergreen strip.
After removing the positive masks for the Hi no Marus, wheels and tail stripe I began the weathering process. Japanese aircraft used in the Hawaii Operation were very well maintained but had been used during rigorous training during the summer of 1941 so some fading was called for. I used a very light wash of burnt umber and black artists oils for this. Once this had dried fully I gave the aircraft a light coat of Future to give it the very light semi-gloss look IJN aircraft had during this time period.
The only decals I used on this kit were the tail numbers. I tried a new procedure for preparing the surface and it worked wonderfully. I first buffed the flat painted surface with a tech wipe (Horizon Brand) stretched over my index finger. This smoothed the surface appreciably but did not mar the finish. I then sprayed Future Floor Wax over the buffed area. Once this was dry I applied the decals in the normal manner using Micro Set followed by Micro Sol. They not only nestled down over the detail but adhered like iron to the smooth finish.


  1. The extreme quality of your model building and years of experience really show here. I got interested in this as an adult and my skills make my planes look like finger painting next to yours. I love the folding wings on this model and the weathering. Fantastic. All it needs is a matching scale aircraft carrier!

  2. I really like the historical notes about Goto and Utsgui making it to the beach only to be killed rather than be captured alive.