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Aichi 99 Kanbaku 'Val' Units 1937-42

Aichi 99 Kanbaku 'Val' Units 1937-42 Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2012 Title Aichi 99 Kanbaku 'Val' Units 1937-42
Author Osamu Tagaya Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2011 ISBN 978-1-84176-912-7
Format 96 pages, softcover MSRP (USD) $22.95


One of the more formidable attack aircraft in Imperial Japanese Navy service was the Aichi D3A Type 99 dive bomber that bore the allied codename of VAL. This aircraft bore a striking resemblance to another famous dive bomber, the Ju 87 Stuka. The underwing dive brakes, fixed landing gear with spats, pilot and rear gunner cockpit arrangement and the centerline bomb arrangement all bore an amazing similarity. The one obvious difference is the D3A's radial engine versus the Ju 87's liquid-cooled engine, and while the Val was designed to operate from IJN aircraft carriers, the Ju 87 was also intended to operate from the German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin before the project was halted. The D3A took part in numerous actions including the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway before being withdrawn from frontline service.

The author has provided an interesting look at this aircraft and its crews, breaking through some of the historical and linguistic barriers that have previously kept this subject from receiving the attention that was long overdue outside of Japan. Coverage of this title includes:

  • Dive-Bombing in the IJN
  • China - First Blood
  • Prelude to Pearl Harbor
  • 'To-Ra, To-Ra, To-Ra'
  • Southern Advance
  • Zenith in the Indian Ocean
  • Coral Sea - The Carriers Clash
  • Midway and the Aleutians

The title provides a nice look into the development and operational employment of this aircraft including combat accounts from both sides of specific events. The title is also nicely illustrated with period black & white and color photography as well 15 color profiles that illustrate the various color schemes worn by the aircraft through its service life.

With the availability of highly detailed Val kits into the hobby world, at last here is a book that can bring this subject into the light.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!