“The mainstay of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s carrier dive-bomber force from 1941 onwards, the Aichi Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A), code-named ‘Val” by allied intelligence, sank more Allied warship tonnage than any other Axis Aircraft during World War 2. With its fixed, spatted undercarriage and external dive brakes, the D3A possessed a superficial resemblance to that other great dive-bomber in the Axis arsenal, the Junkers Ju 87, and, as reflected in a wartime Allied ditty, ‘Val’ was indeed ‘the Stuka’s pal’. First entering service in China in late 1939, the 99 Kanbaku figured prominently in all the great carrier battles of the IJN during the first full year of the Pacific War, from Pearl Harbor through the Indian Ocean to Coral Sea and Midway. Such were the finely honed skills of its crews that, during the Indian Ocean operation of April 1942, the 99 Kanbaku scored the highest hit ratio in combat of any dive-bomber in history by sinking the Royal Navy’s heavy Cruisers HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire and the light carrier HMS Hermes”. *
*Quoted from the rear cover of the book.
Osprey Publications Ltd has released Aichi 99 Kanbaku “Val” Units 1937-42 as Number 63 in their Combat Aircraft series. It is a paperback book with 96 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color illustrations and detailed captions. It has a 2011 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84176-912-7. The book examines and discusses the Japanese Aichi 99 Kanbaku “Val” Units of World War 2 from 1937 to 1942.
- Chapter One
- Dive-Bombing in the IJN
- Chapter Two
- China – First Blood
- Chapter Three
- Prelude To Pearl Harbor
- Chapter Four
- ‘To-Ra, To-Ra, To-Ra’
- Chapter Five
- Southern Advance
- Chapter Six
- Zenith In The Indian Ocean
- Chapter Seven
- Coral Sea – The Carriers Clash
- Chapter Eight
- Midway And The Aleutians
- Colour Plates Commentary
The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. Author Osamu Tagaya covers the Japanese Aichi 99 Kanbaku “Val” Units during World War Two from 1937 to 1942 very well and goes into great detail. Anyone interested in the Japanese Aichi 99 Kanbaku “Val” Units, World War Two Japanese aviation or World War Two Japanese aircraft carriers will find this book very informative and interesting.
There are a total of 69 black and white photographs throughout the book. There are no color photographs featured in this volume. The majority of the photographs are of the Japanese D3A1aircraft as well as various Japanese aircraft carriers and key Japanese individuals. The majority of the photographs are nice clear, centered and focused images, however there are a few that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark. I have seen several military photographs that have this look to them so maybe that is just typical. I do know that several military photographs are actually stills taken from video so that could be one reason. With that said the quality of the blurry photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. I haven’t seen a majority of the featured photographs before and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs as opposed to the same old over used photographs that many books tend to contain. The photographs will be of interest to the aviation and military aviation enthusiast as well as the military historian. However the scale aircraft and ship modeler will find little to no use with this volume as it does not provide any close-up detailed photographs of the aircraft or their carriers. They will find some value in the color plates as they provide a visual reference to the various aircraft color schemes and markings that were used. And the modeler may be interested in a photograph on page 13 that shows the framework of the D3A1 as it is being constructed.
THE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS
There are 5 pages of color aircraft illustrations by illustrator Jim Laurier which cover a total of 16 aircraft and they are very well done. The color plates commentary at the back of the book provides detailed information about each aircraft shown. There is also one aircraft shown on the back cover which has a commentary listed with the others. The front cover art was done by illustrator Mark Postlewaite.
The color illustrations are of the following aircraft:
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘9-257’ of 14th Kokutai, Nanning, South China, March 1940
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘3-222’ of 12th Kokotai, Hankow, Central China, June 1940
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘AI-205’ aboard Akagi, Japan, April 1941
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘AII-234’ aboard Kaga, Japan, August 1941
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘9-273’of 14th Kokutai, Saigon, French Indochina, August 1941
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘EI-238’ of Lt Cdr Kakuichi Takahashi aboard Shokaku, December 1941-January 1942
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘BI-231’ of Lt Cdr Takashige Egusa aboard Soryu, October-December 1941
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘AI-207’ of Lt(jg) Keizo Obuchi aboard Akagi, January-April 1942
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘AII-256’ of F 1/c Shinsaku Yamakawa aboard Kaga, December 1941-March 1942
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘BI-259’ aboard Soryu, December 1941
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘BII-214’ of FPO 2/c Yoshio Shimizu aboard Hiryu, December 1941
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘EI-204’ aboard Shokaku December 1941-January 1942
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘EII-206’ aboard Zuikaku, December 1941-January 1942
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘BI-263’ of FPO 2/c Takeo Yamazaki aboard Soryu, Staring Bay, Celebes, March 1942
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ‘EI-208’ aboard Shokaku during the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 1942
- Type 99 Carrier Bomber (D3A1) Model 11 ’35-201’ of 35th Kokutai, Makassar, Celebes, May 1942
As with the text, the captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations well. They provide information such as the aircrafts location, variations shown, aircraft markings, key individuals, ship names and locations, items of interest seen on the ships and other such valuable information.
All in all I am very impressed with the book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many interesting photographs and well detailed captions. It details the Japanese Aichi 99 Kanbaku “Val” Units 1937-42 very well. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.
This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.
REFERENCES:http://www.pilotfriend.com/photo_albums/timeline/ww2/Aichi D3A Val.htmhttp://www.savagesquadron.com/JPpage/JPBombers/Ai_D3A1.htmhttp://www.daveswarbirds.com/Nippon/Japanese.htmhttp://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/IJARG/d3aval.htm