by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
Aichi D3A1 Type 99 Bomber Model 11 Limited Edition
Stock Number: HSGS5142
Mfg. Number: 51042
SummaryHasegawa has released a new Limited Edition of a 1/48 Aichi D3A1 Type 99 Model 11 dive-Bomber. A model dating to the late 1990s, this excellent model is now designed to allow the wings to be positioned folded and has a special photo-etch fret to model the wing interiors.
D3A KanbakuImperial Japan's Aichi D3A Type 99 navy dive-bomber (kanjō bakugekiki, 艦爆 "Kanbaku" for short) started the Pacific War at Pearl Harbor alongside the deadly Nakajima B5N torpedo-bomber and the legendary Mitsubishi A6M reisen Zero. Identified with the code-named "Val" by the Allies, Aichi's graceful D3A had impressive performance for a fixed-gear aircraft. It was fast and maneuverable enough to threaten Allied fighters when free of bombs. It was most dangerous diving to deliver bombs, a stable machine that in the hands of elite Japanese naval aviators had incredible accuracy, scoring an extraordinary 80% hit rate against maneuvering warships in the Indian Ocean in early 1942. Vals sank a Royal Navy carrier and savaged American carriers in battle after battle through October 1942. Vals sank more Allied ships than any other Japanese warplane.
However, when faced with determined fighter opposition and flak, Vals were vulnerable because they lacked protection for the crew and fuel tanks. The excellent crews were killed off and Val was regulated to 2nd line roles, eventually used up in kamikaze attacks.
In the boxThis impressive model is secured in a plastic bag and packed in a top-bottom box. A photo of a company display model is the box art. Inside are 134 pieces on 10 sprues of light gray styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a photo-etch fret, four vinyl caps, a good decal sheet and instructions.
Molding is excellent as Hasegawa is known for. With only three exceptions I can't find any flash or sink marks, noticeable mold seams, and only a few ejector circles on visible parts. Airframe surface detail is both relief and recessed where appropriate. Fabric control surfaces are simulated as taut material stretched over framework, with no fabric texture. Small parts like pitot tubes are very thin and molded with finesse. No texture dulls the smooth plastic.
I do not place the parts onto an outline to compare profiles.
The airframe is the conventional two-part fuselage, a one-piece lower wing and two top wing halves, a three-part cowl, and single-piece horizontal stabilizers. Twin sprues hold the stabilizers and landing gear. Each main gear leg is made by joining two-piece spats around two-part wheels. The dive-brakes are on their own sprue. Actuator rods for the ailerons and other control surfaces are molded on. None of the control surfaces are separate, nor are the flaps. Bomb racks and attachments for the dive-brakes are separate.
Most of the surface detail consists of recessed panel lines although Hasegawa tooled raised and recessed rivets, where appropriate.
Interestingly, the housing for the bomb crutch is molded onto the lower wing along with two very small rear facing open vents.
To fold the wings, Hasegawa molded recessed lines on the interiors. You will have to cut wings apart. Slight raised guides help you position the photo-etched wing interior.
Topping the airframe off is an impressive clear sprue of canopies, both single-piece for buttoned-up, and separate 5-part hood for positioning the greenhouse open. If you build it open you will see that the parts are very thick. Also included are armored glass for behind the pilot's head, a landing light, gunsight, and two nav lights. While very thick, the pieces are clear, undistorted, and detailed with fine low framing.
The p/e fret has cowl flaps, three pieces per wing fold, gunsights, and other items.
Finally, each bomb is built from multiple parts.
Components and detailThe Mitsubishi Kinsei twin-row radial engine is molded as a single piece with a well detailed front cylinder row molded atop the rear cylinder bank, and a separate crankcase front. An ignition harness is included on the p/e fret.
Over 30 parts build up and equip the cockpit! This is the only place that Hasegawa marred with ejector circles, on the cockpit side inserts. Val's fuselage was round and the greenhouse narrow so perhaps they will not be noticeable when all the parts are in place and the fuselage halves ensconce the cockpit. Perhaps also that is why the cockpit floor detail is unimpressive.
Hasegawa appears to be sensitive to inexperienced or aging models who still desire good detail. While the impressive instrument panel and consoles have good - if over-scale - instrument bezels and faces, detailed decals are provided to alleviate the need to paint that detail. I imagine that trying to get those thin decals to settle over the general plastic detail will require copious amounts of Solvaset. If you use the decal, consider sacrificing the detail and carving and sanding the panels down.
Further cockpit equipment includes bulkheads, breaches for the forward-firing 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 97 machine guns, communication equipment, bomb releases, machine gun magazines, seats and framing, and flight and powerplant control apparatus. The gunners seat can be assembled facing forward with the 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 92 machine gun stowed, or facing aft ready for action. The Type 92, basically a copy of the Lewis Gun, is crisp with some basic detail but lacks the rivet and other detail that would be noticeable in this scale.
Instructions, decals, and paintingA tri-fold sheet with open and shaded line art guides you along several steps and sub-steps to build this model. It is clear and easy to follow.
Decals are printed thin, opaque, crisp, and precisely registered. You are provided tail codes for HIJMS Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku. Individual numbers are supplied so you can model whichever kanbaku you favor. While the carrier film is thin, you might want to cut away the large clear areas between the tail stripes.
The specific markings included are for the strikingly painted BI-231, the Soryu D3A1 of legendary 1st chutai kanbaku leader LCDR Takashige Egusa, Pearl Harbor, 1941.
Only two paint brands are keyed to parts, not surprisingly, Mr. Color and GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby Color. Only one camouflage finish is shown, S1: solid green over gray. No reference is made of the single color finish on many D3A1s.
ConclusionHasegawa D3A1 kanbaku is an excellent model. While I do not place the parts onto an outline to compare profiles, it looks very accurate. Molding is excellent. Surface detail is sharp. Clear parts, while thick, are clear. The model has a detailed interior. The positionable wings and the photo-etch fret really enhance the model.
The single-piece engine part may disappoint some modelers. I am disappointed with the ejector marks on the visible side of the cockpit walls, although they will probably be difficult to see what the fuselage is closed.
While the decals are very good and generous, Hasegawa leaves you to figure out the proper color and markings for any Val other than LCDR Egusa's. Also, ignoring the other common camouflage used on kanbaku of the period is disappointing.
Hasegawa's 1/48 D3A1 Model 11 is an impressive and pleasing kit that, in my opinion, has held up very well over the decades. Whether you elect to build LCDR Egusa's Val at Pearl Harbor or any others it should be very satisfying model to build.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.