The Aichi D3A1 (Val) Carrier Bomber was designed by Nakajima in 1937 and was modeled after the highly successful Stuka Dive bomber. The D3A1 went into service in December 1939 as the Navy Type 99 Model 11 Carrier Dive Bomber. The initial production of D3A1's were powered by ether a 14 cylinder twin row radial 1,000 hp Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 engine, or a twin row 14 cylinder radial 1,070 hp Kinsei 44 engine. This was replaced in 1942 in the D3A2 model by the 14 cylinder radial 1,300 hp Kinsei 54 engine.
Over 1,500 D3A1 through D3A2 Dive Bombers were produced during the war with over 1,000 D3A2 variants being made. The D3A2 had an operational range of 915 miles.
The D3A2 was a main participant in the Pearl Harbor attack and 129 D3A2 aircraft made up the attacking force.
When the much faster Asahi D4Y1 Model 11 Suisei (Judy) dive bomber became available in late 1942, the D3A2s were relegated to land-based units or operated from the smaller "light" carriers which had decks that were too short for the Suisei's higher landing speed. In September 1944 when the Americans launched their air attacks in preparation for the return to the Philippines the D3A2s took an active part in the fighting but were hopelessly out classed and losses were heavy. By then many D3A2s were operated by training units in Japan and a few were modified to Navy Type 99 Bomber Trainer Model 12s (D3A2-K). During the last year of the war, D3A2s were mostly relegated to second-line duties. They were also used in Kamikaze attacks and experienced a high loss rate
The D3A Dive bomber is credited with destroying more Allied shipping than any other aircraft in the war