by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The Val or as it was officially known, the Aichi Type 99 Carrier Bomber Model 11, was chosen from other designs from Nakajima and Mitsubishi to be the principal dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It is credited with destroying more Allied shipping than any other Axis aircraft. It often worked in partnership with the IJN Kate torpedo bomber. The Val made its combat debut on mainland China and also saw some use as a fighter before ending the war as kamikaze aircraft.
The top opening box has a very good illustration of a pair of Val’s about to commence their attack on Pearl Harbour. The back and sides of the box has a selection of the CAD images as well as illustrations of all the marking options. Great stuff if you’re browsing in your local Hobby store. Inside the contents are individually packed in bags.
Contents : inside you will find:
-3 x light grey plastic sprues.
-1 x clear plastic sprue.
-1 x sheet of decals.
-1 x folded construction and painting guide.
Cockpit : first thing to notice is that the instructional drawings for the cockpit bear no resemblance at all to the kit parts. The instructions have a drawing of a cockpit tub, whereas in reality you are supplied with a nicely detailed cockpit floor on which are a couple of bulkheads. Also moulded on the floor are the pilot’s rudder pedals and a few other details. Oddly there is no control stick included on the sprues. The pilot’s instrument panel is made up from four separate parts. Although the detail on the instrument panel is very subtle, there seems to be a lack of instruments on show. A look at the CAD images on the back of the box would back this up, some are missing. The navigator also has a separate instrument panel. The seats are nicely done, but they lack seat harnesses. The inside of the fuselage halves are beautifully detailed around the cockpit area. Unfortunately there are many shallow recessed ejector marks. There is also what looks like locating holes, but nothing to add to them. Another strange omission is the lack of armament for the observer.
Canopy : Cyber Hobby have provided a fully closed up canopy and windscreen and a five part windscreen/canopy if you wish to display the canopies open. The stepped appearance of the canopies looks a little obvious on the closed canopy. Unfortunately the instructions don’t seem to cover how to arrange the multi part canopy. You will have to refer to the closed windscreen/canopy as a guide. Also the components that are shown are miss-numbered.
Fuselage : is split vertically with separate rudder and engine cowling. The fuselage has very nice recessed panel lines and detail. The shape of the vertical fin is well done. The rudder features surprisingly inappropriate raised detail suggesting the stretched canvas covering the ribs. No problem, just rub them down. One consequence of the fine detail on the inside of the cockpit is that there is some visual evidence of distortion in the plastic on the outer surfaces. There are some obvious sink marks around the roots where the tail plane fits. There are plenty of locating pins and holes to help locate the two halves accurately.
There are two engine cowlings included on the sprue, but there is no mention of the two in the instructions [the instruction designer is having a nightmare with this release!]. One cowling has the air cooler flaps open; the other cowling has closed flaps. If you go for the closed flaps, the cowling is made up from three parts. The open flap option is built from two parts. With both options the front of the cowling is separate. Inside the cowling are some residue parts of plastic from the injection process that needs removing carefully. Cyber Hobby has to be congratulated on including the open or closed flaps for the engine cowl. There are a couple of good looking exhaust pipes [wrongly numbered in the instructions] with hollow ends.
The radial engine is two parts; the seven cylinder engine needs to be joined to the engine mount. The engine mount has some good detail including numerous exhaust pipes from the cylinders. The cooling fins around each cylinder are very finely done. The three blade propeller is one piece and there is a separate locking nut and spinner boss to fit. The blades of the propeller are are nicely shaped and thin.
There is a nicely detailed telescopic sight and circular sight to add to the forward upper fuselage.
The arrestor hook is separate and there is also a tail guard to fix in place.
Wings : is made from three pieces and capture the beautiful elliptical shape very well. The advantage of the one piece lower wing is that the dihedral is fixed and starts from the fixed undercarriage. The flaps and ailerons are separate and each item is one piece. Just like the rudder, the bulges depicting the stretched surface of the fabric are exaggerated. They certainly need rubbing down. The outer control surfaces have some fine looking actuating rods to attach. The folding outer wing sections are two pieces with separate one piece control surfaces. If you go for the folded option then there are separate folding mechanisms which will help to achieve the correct angle for the folded wing. There is some subtle raised detailing around the wing joint.
Dive brakes are fixed onto the wing via three attachment points.
The horizontal stabilisers are both one piece with separate one piece elevators. The elevators share the same raised bulges as the other control surfaces. There are a couple of sink marks either side of the area just forward of the wing leading edge.
Undercarriage : because of the relatively slow speed of the Val it was deemed not worth adding a retractable undercarriage. The main undercarriage legs and spats are split vertically sandwiching the two part wheels. A nice touch is the weighted tyres. The tail wheel is one piece.
Armament : the under fuselage 250 kg bomb is moulded in one piece with separate fins and fin re enforcement. The bomb release trapeze is two pieces and looks very good. The two smaller wing mounted 60 kg bombs are one piece with separate one piece carriers.
Dry fit : the good news is that the main parts of this kit fit beautifully. There is a slight gap between the rear wing/fuselage joint that may be closed when glue is applied. I particularly like the fit of the horizontal stabilisers, the generous tab that fits into the fuselage provides a very strong joint. The exaggerated stepped one piece canopy fits well at the front, but the rear is not as wide as the sill that it sits on. The result is that you see much more sill than you should. If you use the separate canopies the rear most glazing unit does not fit on the sill at all. Best thing to do is display the canopies open as seen on many photographs.
Decals : are printed by Cartograf and as you would expect they look superb. Colour density looks very good and as the designs have no overlaid colours there are no registration problems. Thankfully all the stripes, bars and wheel fairing decoration are included on the decal sheet.
Markings: there are options for eight aircraft all of which took part in the raid on Pearl Harbour. Colours are IJN Grey overall with black nose and anti-glare panel:
No 2 aircraft: 22nd Section, 1st Squadron, Akagi, Pearl Harbour 1941.
No 3 aircraft: 25th Section, 2nd Squadron, Soryu, Pearl Harbour 1941.
No 2 aircraft: 26th Section, 1st Squadron, Hiryu, Pearl Harbour 1941.
No 1 aircraft: 20th Section, Command Squadron, Shokaku, Pearl Harbour 1941.
Unidentified: Zuikaku, Pearl Harbour 1941.
No 1 aircraft: 25th Section, 2nd Squadron, Akagi, Pearl Harbour 1941.
No 1 aircraft: 27th Section, 3rd Squadron, Kaga, Pearl Harbour 1941.
No 1 aircraft: 21st Section, 1st Squadron, Akagi, Pearl Harbour 1941.
Instructions : generally helpful, but there are some glaring faults as already mentioned. It looks as if there was a plan A that the plastic designers went for and a plan B for the instruction designers. Beware of wrongly numbered items in the instructions also.
Positives, well the airframe looks very good and captures the overall shape very well. The recessed surface detail is first class. The instruction particularly around the cockpit is inexcusable for a major manufacturer. You wonder what happened with the checks before this was released. There appears to be some significant omissions around the cockpit: control stick, rear armament, etc. There’s nothing that can’t be put right but at the price brand this will be sold any negatives will have modelers thinking twice about purchasing. A shame really as this release should and could have been a winner.