Aichi D3A2 Model 22 "Val"

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Aichi D3A2 Model 22 “Val”

In the history of aviation, there are not many aircraft whose most massive, long-produced and used modification, if not consigned to oblivion, is certainly in the shadow of its older, less numerous brother. We are talking about the D3A2 Val dive bomber model 22.


Aichi D3A2 Val model 22



The charismatic and recognizable D3A Val, also known as Kanbaku, is known to people far from the panopticon of the Japanese aviation industry. The easily recognizable “Japanese Shooter,” along with the legendary Zero and the torpedo bomber Kate (Nakajima B5N2), became a symbol of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Japanese blitzkrieg of the 1942 model, sinking and crippling a lot of Allied ships. But all this is the merit of the first modification of “Val”: D3A1 model 11.

During the early years of the Pacific War, the Val was a very effective and feared aircraft, but as the war progressed this gradually changed. When the Allies sank four of Japan’s most important aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway, many Shafts and their experienced pilots also perished. Many Shafts now had to operate from conventional ground airfields, so the Aichi designers attempted to improve the top speed of the D3A1 by replacing its engine with the much more powerful Kinsei 54 (take-off power: 1,300 hp). This modification went into mass production in August 1942 as the Aichi D3A2 and entered service in the fall of 1942.

With its follower, our hero, the Model 22, things were a little more complicated. The installation of a new engine modification, an extra 230 “horses,” and changes in aerodynamics due to new glazing in the radio operator’s cockpit led, let’s say, to an ambiguous result.

“Maximum speed” and cruising speed have increased. This is good. The trouble is that the plane could only reach 430 km/h and everyone was catching up with it.

A Japanese Navy pilot sitting in the cockpit of his Aichi D3A2 Type 99 Model 22 “Val” Carrier Dive-bomber at a Navy Airbase.

Combat use 1942-1945:
D3As from the 5th Carrier Group took part in the battle that unfolded on May 7-8, 1942 in the Coral Sea. This time their successes were more modest, despite the sinking of the American aircraft carrier USS Lexington and the damage to the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the Japanese also suffered significant losses, failing to achieve a clear victory in that battle.

72 D3As from the aircraft carriers IJN Kaga, IJN Akagi, IJN Sōryū and IJN Hiryū took part in the turning point in the Pacific War at the Battle of Midway on June 3, 1942. After an ineffective morning raid on the atoll, most of them, along with the aircraft carriers IJN Kaga, IJN Akagi and Sōryū, were destroyed by a raid by American Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers, only 18 D3As aboard IJN Hiryū managed to take off to attack the enemy fleet. Due to the small number of fighter cover, 11 of them were still shot down by American fighters on the way to the target, but the remaining ones attacked the repaired and recommissioned aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. Having lost three more vehicles from the aircraft carrier’s anti-aircraft artillery fire, the Japanese managed to achieve three direct hits from 250 kg bombs. USS Yorktown received heavy damage, but remained afloat, but was soon finished off by B5N torpedo bombers from the same IJN Hiryū and sank.

The next major battle in which the D3A took part was the Battle of Guadalcanal, in which 54 aircraft of the type took part from the aircraft carriers Shōkaku and IJN Zuikaku of the 1st Division. In the first battle, on August 23, 1942, the D3A managed to heavily damage the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise with three hits, although it remained afloat. In the battle off Santa Cruz Island on October 26, D3A, together with B5N, managed to heavily damage the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, which sank on the same day, and also caused minor damage to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which had been repaired by that time, with two bomb hits.


A Japanese Type 99 Aichi D3A1 dive bomber (Allied codename “Val”) trails smoke as it dives toward the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), during the morning of 26 October 1942. This plane struck the ship’s stack and then her flight deck. Two Type 97 Nakajima B5N2 torpedo planes (“Kate”) are flying over Hornet after dropping torpedoes. Note anti-aircraft shell burst between Hornet and the camera, with its fragments striking the water nearby.

Soon after this, aircraft of the D3A2 modification began to enter the troops, while the D3A1s were transferred to training units and converted into a training version. However, the D3A2 was already outdated at the time of its introduction and was mainly supplied to ground units, while aircraft carriers received modern D4Y Suisei dive bombers. The effectiveness of combat operations was further reduced by the loss of air superiority by the Japanese by that time. In the battles in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea in 1943, the D3A operating from ground-based airfields did not achieve serious success, and suffered heavy losses.

The last use of the D3A in the bomber role was the Battle of the Marianas on 19 June 1944, which involved 36 D3A2s still aboard the carriers IJN Junio and IJN Hiyō. All of them were shot down by American fighters on the way to the target and did not have a noticeable impact on the course of the battle. The last D3As were used in the kamikaze role in the battles for Okinawa in March-April 1945.

Aircraft production Aichi D3A2:

By June 1942, the D3A2 Model 12, equipped with a Mitsubishi Kinsei 54 engine with a power of 1300 hp, was ready, but installing a more powerful engine alone did not solve all the problems of the D3A. As a result, the company presented a significantly modified version of the D3A2 Model 22, which was distinguished by the installation of additional fuel tanks and the lighter weight of the vehicle, achieved by eliminating armor protection and self-sealing fuel tanks. All this made it possible to increase the maximum speed of the vehicle by 40 km/h, but a more powerful engine reduced the flight range by more than 100 km.

The production of the new modification was launched by Aichi and Showa Hikoki Kogyo K.K. in August 1942 and amounted to 1016 vehicles, of which 815 were produced by Aichi, and the remaining 201 by Showa Hikoki Kogyo K.K.

The number of vehicles produced was distributed among manufacturing plants as follows:

Factory of Aichi Kokuki K.K. in Funakata (Nagoya Province)

  • AM-17 (11-Shi, prototypes), 2 units were produced in 1937-1938.
  • D3A1 pre-production batch, 6 units were produced in 1939.
  • D3A2 Model 11 from December 1939 to August 1942, 470 units were produced.
  • D3A2 Model 12 prototype, 1 unit produced in June 1942.
  • D3A2 Model 22 from August 1942 to June 1944, 815 units were produced.
  • Factory of Showa Hikoki Kogyo K.K. in Tokyo
  • D3A2 Model 22 from December 1942 to August 1945, 201 units were produced.

The total production amounted to 1,495 units, including experimental and pre-production vehicles.

D3A2 dive bombers in flight, 1942-1943

Technical characteristics:


  • Wingspan: 14.37 m
  • Length: 10.2 m
  • Height: 3.85 m
  • Wing area: 34.9 m²
  • Top speed: 430 km/h at 6200 m (D3A1 has a top speed of around 380 - 390 km/h at 3000 m for comparison)
  • Cruising speed: 296 km/h at 3000 m
  • Climb rate: 8.62 m/s
  • Engine: 1x Mitsubishi Kinsei 54 rated at 1300 HP
  • Empty weight: 2570 kg
  • Loaded weight: 3800 kg
  • Service ceiling: 10 500 m
  • Wing loading: 108.9 kg/m²
  • Range: 1352 km

Airplane diagram:


Aichi D3A1 Model 11 compared Aichi D3A2 Model 22



  • 1x pilot
  • 1x navigator / gunner


  • 2x 7.7 mm type 97 MGs with 900 rounds per gun / 1800 rounds total


  • 1x 7.7 mm type 92 MG behind the pilot with 1000 rounds

Bomb load:

  • 1x 250 kg bomb and 2x 60 kg bombs
  • 2 folding tanks 160 l each
  • Some sources also claim it could carry - 1x 250 kg bomb and 4x 60 kg bombs


Airplane main color:

  • Black nose
  • Green fuselage
  • White bottom

More pictures:




Abandoned Val in Guam. 1944



  • Aichi D3A1/2 Val by Smith, Peter C.
  • Aichi Navy Type 99 Carrier Dive-Bomber. — Maru Mechanism of Military Aircraft Т. 11.
  • Aichi D3A Val Type 99 Carrier Dive-Bomber. — Famous Airplanes of the World Т. 33.
  • S. Fleischer, Z.Szeremeta Aichi D3A Val, Nakajima B5N Kate.
  • R.J. Francillon Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. — London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970. — P. 271-276. — 509 с. — ISBN 370-00033-1

Folding tank?

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Better val? Yes please +1

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