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Hasegawa's 1/48 scale
Aichi D3A1 Val

by Bruce Salmon

Aichi D3A1 Val
Battle of Midway


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I always like my models to have different schemes than what most people select (e.g. whatever’s in the box) but without having to buy aftermarket decals. Normally I mix ‘n’ match what comes in the box to create something plausible and such is the case with my Val. I used photos I found on the internet and the kit decals to create an aircraft from the carrier Soryu at the Battle of Midway, 4th June 1942. I try to do this combobulating in a logical fashion so that I can have excuses to hand if anyone tries to pull me up on the accuracy of something. …Anyway, I dare you to prove anything wrong with my paint scheme as there are few photos available and all the aircraft are sitting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.



Aftermarket Products Used:

  • CMK (4055) D3A1 resin wing-fold set

  • Eduard PE Set (48 259) Aichi D3A1 Val

Engine and Cowl

Initially I was going to “go to town” on the engine seeing as how the cowl is so open and you can see a lot of it. However, when my Engines ‘n’ Things (48134) resin Mitsubishi Kinsei 14 cyl. HA-33, HA-112 1280hp engine turned up I was surprised at how crap it was (just a bad moulding of reconstituted kit parts) - Yuck! Having said this I’ll still buy this brand because they are cheap and you can still use their products in mostly hidden dark areas such as for replicating the back of the engine when you want to have the cowl flaps open. The kit engine would have to do and admittedly after attaching the PE harness then painting and drybrushing actually looks pretty good. The cowl was then assembled, cowl flaps thinned and the inside painted. The engine and cowl were left off the model until final assembly.

Cockpit / Fuselage

The cockpit was given the Eduard PE treatment and some extra wiring in suitable places. I couldn’t find any good photos of the interior of a Val so had to trust that Hasegawa and Eduard knew what they were doing. It was then painted (using my own concoction) and weathered with a wash of raw umber and then some drybrushing. There is something not quite right with the rear seat and it looks as though only a very small child could have ever sat in it. Perhaps the gunner was only allowed to sit on one arse cheek. The rudder was also cut off and repositioned (make sure if you do this that you match it to the rudder pedal positions!)


I decided that my model would have folded wings, as it would have done on the carrier deck just before its next flight… to oblivion. Before assembly the wing tips were cut off and the resin plug from the CMK wing-fold set test fitted. The hinges of the wing tips are flimsy and certainly won’t support the piece when glued in place so I had to scratchbuild some extra bracing. Once I was happy with the fit the wings were glued up. Next I attached the dive brake stubs and the fixed undercarriage boots (I cut some internal bits so that I could fit the wheels later).



The outer wing tip portion is solid resin and I added nav lights to them with clear sprue, sanded to shape and polished them. They were set aside to be painted and then added at final assembly. The wings were then attached to the fuselage and so too the tailplanes, which also had their elevators cut out and repositioned. Seam lines were bogged and sanded along with some rescribing where necessary.

Sundry Stuff

The kit canopy was used as it fit in the “open” position well; only the edges were thinned with a blade to scale thickness. Model Master Ultra-bright Krome Foil was used to mask it, ready for painting. This is not an easy task as sometimes the framework does not have very good definition; also the foil tears easily and it can be hard to remove. Initially I used the Eduard canopy masks but these are next to useless (especially on curved surfaces) as they are too thick to bend easily and half their glue stays on the backing paper.

The holes in the exhaust pipes were also dremelled deeper and the bomb was detailed. The PE Bomb fins are an Eduard engineering disaster! You have to cut right through all the plastic and use lots of filler/super glue to fill the big gaps – what a mission! …still it had to be done.

The wheels, dive brakes, propeller etc were all painted and set aside for final assembly.



Painting and Markings



First on was the Ame-Iro (basically khaki) for the undersurfaces. I post-shaded this slightly with subtly lighter mixes. Then the upper surfaces were sprayed JN Green straight without lightening it. This was p-shaded as well lightening with white and a bit of Humbrol 226 Interior Green. P-shading on the fuselage was done in an up and down motion (not in the direction of airflow) as aircraft sit on the ground far longer than they are ever in the air. The Hinomarus, fuselage stripe and walkways were all masked with Tamiya tape and sprayed. For the Hinomarus I cut circles in wide Tamiya tape using a plastic school circle template. Then I deftly manoeuvred a pointy X-Acto blade, held in my fingers, around the circumference; it can take a few goes to get it perfect. The outer white was done first then the inner red.


My own paint mixes (all enamel) for the project is as follows:

  • Interior: 7 parts Tamiya XF71 Japanese Interior Green / 1 part Humbrol 226 Interior Green / 1 part Tamiya XF62 Olive Drab

  • Ame-Iro: 1 – Tamiya XF64 Red Brown / 8 – Tamiya XF12 JN Grey / 5 – Tamiya XF49 Khaki / 7 – Tamiya XF2 White / 1 – Humbrol 154 Insignia Yellow

  • Upper Green: Tamiya XF11 JN Green (straight)

  • Cowling: 1 – Tamiya X2 Royal Blue / 2 – Tamiya XF1 Black

  • Hinomaru: 5 – Humbrol 153 Insignia Red / 1 – Humbrol 113 Rust

  • Carrier Stripes: 4 – Tamiya XF8 Blue / 1 – Tamiya XF2 White

  • Walkways: 2 – Tamiya XF63 German Grey / 1 – Humbrol 110 Natural Wood

  • Exhaust pipes: 2 – Tamiya XF2 Black / 1 – Humbrol 113 Rust



Once the paint was dry I sprayed commercial grade Wattyl Estapol polyurethane high performance interior clear house varnish (gloss) on the places where the decals would go. This local product dries fast, doesn’t yellow and cures as hard as hell. The only decals used on this model are the numbers on the tail and U/C boots. I’d used up all my 2s on my Kate but managed to get some more from a kind member of j-aircraft.com. I used 2-3 applications of Gunze Mr. Mark Softer to get them to snuggle down.


Once I was satisfied with the work I sprayed the entire model with Estapol satin, ready for an oil wash. I use Winsor & Newton Artisan water mixable oil colours. I mix mine in “BAR’S BUGS” car window washer concentrate, straight out of the bottle (no dilution). First up is a light general overall wash for the entire model using raw umber. I apply this to one section at a time with a wide soft brush. Darker mixes (black is added) are applied to areas that would naturally be more dirty and oily.

Paint chipping comes next and for that I use Tamiya XF16 Flat Aluminium applied with a tiny brush. Finally I spray a top coat of Estapol matt or mix this with gloss or satin to achieve different lustres (apparently the Ame-Iro paint was a gloss). Then I do some drybrushing of raw umber around the engine and other areas such as aileron hinges, where grease and oil would leak from. A mix of Humbrol 11 Silver and raw umber is applied to high traffic areas (the oil paint makes it easier to brush and you can alter the tone of the silver). Last of all is the gun and exhaust smoke staining done with Tamiya X19 smoke. Since this paint is a gloss I also spray Estapol matt over it afterwards.



Final Assembly


All the small fiddly bits are then glued in place usually in order of which is least likely to get broken off first. The canopy was attached with white glue and the seam lines filled with more white glue then painted with a thin coat of JN green.



The aerial was made from stretched sprue attached with white glue and then painted black. Lastly came, the wing tips. Like I said earlier these are very flimsy and because of their weight break off rather easily if the model gets jostled around too much; I’ve broken them off twice already. If I was doing it again I would scratch build them using the tips I’d cut from the kit’s wings.





Overall this is a very good kit and went together easily; I had way more problems with aftermarket stuff than with the kit. The Val is certainly an interesting subject to have in any collection.

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2007 by Bruce Salmon
Page Created 01 July, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

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