Hasegawa 1/48 D3A1 'Val'

KIT #: Jt55
PRICE: $18.00
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Fernando Rolandelli
NOTES: Eduard FE1281 p.e. and masks Yellowhammer decals


Designed by Toshio Ozaki under the direction of Tokuichirou Gomei, the -slightly- backwards-looking Aichi D3A1 flew in January, 1938, under the programme AM-17. Though influenced by the Heinkel He-70 (Ozaki had visited the Heinkel factory) it was deliberately kept simple and more rugged than the German design. Among the several main modifications were the shape and surface of the vertical fin and rudder, and a change of engine, to the Mitsubishi Kinsei of 840 kph. It was easy to fly, very maneuvrable (effective dogfighter when not encumbered by a bomb) and easy to deck handling. The weapon load might look a bit puny to us, the main missile being a 250 kg bomb (the same an SBD took for scouting!) but the precision in the dive would make up for this

Ozaki went on to design the B7A Ryusei and the M6A1 Seiran. He survived the war.


The Hasegawa kit is for now the best D3A1 in 1/48, with adequate interior and fine recessed panels. Clear parts are outstanding. Do Hasegawa put more -loving- care to WW2 Japanese subjects? That said, the kit is simple, engine is just one piece for the two rows of cylinders and none of the flying surfaces is detached. Decals are a bit thick as usual. I threw in an Eduard Zoom PE set plus Yellowhammer decals.


The cockpits are well furnished and were completed using the PE parts and some scratchbuilding. Some of the rear cockpit instruments are mimicks; I corrected this to an extent using the book by Mikesh as a guide, especially in remaking the prominent compass (probably the most disappointing part in the kit). The color I chose was US Interior Green. I completed the rear cockpit as it would be on deck: the seat facing forward and the MG stowed.

The main parts fit is very good, though I am not a good assembler and had to use some putty in areas. The canopy is very complex, as the various segments go one over the other. I resorted to masking and painting the innermost ones and attach them to the still unpainted fuselage; then proceeded normally (a precut mask is heartily recommended). This was the only part of the assembly that worried me. The cowling requires some extra care, as it comes in two halves plus forward ring, and the seam line is very visible on the interior surfaces (it is not well faired as in, say, an A6M, it is more of an open pot!) I suggest puttying and sanding both sides.


A one colour overall paintjob looks easy, but it is not, at least if you do not want it to look like a die-cast model. I made an extensive preshade (almost a “marbling”) and then proceeded to paint in mottle fashion, with some extra later care of flying surfaces and some structural details post shaded in a lighter shade.

The colour I wanted to replicate was the Aichi version of Ame-Iro, supposedly more vivid than the Mitsubishi version (hence the reports of “yellow” or “orange” Aichis?) I chose Xtracolor FS34201, which is among the colours recommended by Nick Millman as an acceptable match. Hinomarus were painted, with a Red colour from Revell.

Decals were rather nightmarish, but it might be they were a bit old. Instead of making some trial, I went in for the tail code, which, to my horror, started disintegrating in the water. Somehow I managed to take it out of the water and on to the tail, with some gaps which were duly filled with the Revell paint. The other side code I coated in Xtracrilixs Gloss, and it worked, though still had some breakages which were duly filled with the Revell paint. After some coats of Gloss varnish and polishing in between, they look almost if nothing had happened. The fact that the Revell paint was the exact hue the decals had (a rare occurrence) undoubtedly helped. The stripes on the tailplane came from a Xtradecal generic sheet.


A good modelling experience. These models are not new, and comes as no surprise to anyone, but they are a delight to built, and quite recommended for people that has little time to dedicate to the hobby, such as myself.


Fernando Rolandelli

7 November 2023

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