Impressed by the Heinkel He 118V4, which the Japanese had acquired from the Germans along with production rights, The Naval staff in late 1938 instructed Yokosuka to design an aircraft inspired by, but smaller than the He 118V4 to meet the requirements of a Navy Experimental 13-Shi Carrier Bomber specification. Although the design was inspired by the He 118 the engineers had succeeded in producing an air frame which was not only smaller and lighter but which was much improved aerodynamically. It was planned to power the aircraft with a license built version of the Daimler-Benz DB 601A, the Aichi Atsuta, but the Japanese engine was not available when the first prototype was being built and a DB 600G was used instead. The first D4Y1 was completed in November 1940 and made its maiden flight at Yokusuka the following month. Performance exceeded the Navy's most optimistic hopes and the trials were accelerated in 1941, when four additional prototypes were delivered. When simulated dive bombing tests were made, the aircraft ran into trouble as wing flutter developed and cracks appeared in the wing spars. Consequently, plans to mass produce the aircraft in the Nagoya plant of Aichi had to be hurriedly changed as it was obvious that it was not ready to be operated in its intended role.
Initially, the pre-production D4Y1's, which began rolling off Aichi's assembly lines in the spring of 1942, differed from the Yokosuka built prototypes only in being powered by the 1,200 hp Aichi AE1A engine. With its maximum speed substantially higher than that of the Nakajima B5N2 operated as a reconnaissance aircraft, and with good range performance, the Atsuta powered D4Y1 appeared to be ideally suited for that role. Accordingly the Navy instructed Aichi to modify the the aircraft as the D4Y1-C carrier borne reconnaissance aircraft by mounting a K-8 camera in the aft fuselage. In July 1942 the D4Y1-C was ordered into production. Production was slow in gaining tempo as the requirements for these was limited and by the end of March 1943 Aichi had only completed twenty-five D4Y1s and D4Y1-Cs including preproduction aircraft. Small detachments of the D4Y1-Cs were beginning to be assigned to carriers in the autumn of 1942 and the type remained in first line service until the end of the war. Fitted with two 330 liter drop tanks, the D4Y1-C had extensive range and the aircraft was liked by its crews who complained only of lack of pilot and fuel tank protection, while ground crews experienced some difficulty with the liquid cooled engine.
Development of the D4Y1 continued and fitted with a reinforced wing spars and improved dive brakes, it was finally accepted as a dive bomber in March 1943. As there was a demand for a fast aircraft capable of supplementing and eventually supplanting the obsolete Aichi D3A2, production was rapidly sped up and most of the 589 D4Y1s and D4Y1-Cs built by Aichi between April 1943 and March 1944 were of the dive bomber variant. A considerable number were shot down during the Marianas 'turkey shoot' and they failed to sink a single American carrier. In spite of the lesson of the battle for the Marianas, the next production version still had no provision for either crew or fuel tank protection and the modifications were limited to the installation of the 1,400 hp Aichi AE1P engine. Designated the D4Y2 this variant entered production in October 1944. entering service during the battle for the Philippines, the different D4Y2 variants were decimated by the numerically superior allied fighter aircraft and a large number of them were expended in kamikaze attacks.
The 11th Naval Arsenal at Hiro undertook the modification of a limited number of D4Y2s intended to operate in the night fighter role. For this duty the bomb racks, flexible rear firing guns and carrier equipment were removed and the internal bomb bay was faired over. A single 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 cannon was mounted obliquely in the fuselage to fire upward and forward at a 30º angle. Some of the aircraft were also equipped with wing racks for air-to-air rockets. Designated the D4Y2-S these aircraft were used with limited success from bases in Central Japan against low flying B-29s operating at night. Lacking AI radar and having a slow climbing speed, the D4Y2-S was rather ineffective as a night fighter.
The FineMolds Judy comes in a top open box with nice artwork on the top. Inside the contents is contained in three cellophane bags. One contains three sprues in medium gray plastic that contain the fuselage, wings, tail, internal parts, landing gear and various in sundry parts including a standing pilot figure with map case. The second bag contains the liquid cooled engine and an assortment of parts specific to certain versions. The engine was molded as a separate assembly so that the radial engine version could be modeled as well, The third bag contains the clear parts and decals as well as a small bag including three cast metal parts that make up the 20 mm gun used in the night fighter version. The air frame parts feature recessed panel lines which are quite fine and some raised surface detail where applicable. The finish is glossy. There is some flash on some of the parts but it shouldn't be hard to clean up. There were also some sink marks on the fuselage opposite the interior molded detail. The wheel wells feature some molded in detail. All flight control surfaces are molded in the neutral position.
An enlarged view of the inside of the fuselage showing molded in detail.
The cast metal cannon has a rather heavy parting line to clean up and it might be worth while to replace the barrel with a piece of hypodermic tubing.
The clear parts are a bit thick and not as clear as some of the more recent kits. The frame likes are are well defined but there is no option for opening the canopy. Hopefully a dip in Future will improve their clarity.
The decals appear opaque and perhaps a bit thick with minimal clear film. The white seems to be more of a cream color similar to what was supplied with Hasegawa kits for years. A fair amount of stencils are supplied. Registration isn't an issue as the white surrounds are supplied as separate decals and alignment is left to the installer. This really isn't an issue as the main sheet is apparently the one supplied with the other versions of the kit as the national markings on this kit don't have the white surrounds. A second sheet was supplied which has the special markings for this kit. Markings are supplied for five different aircraft from different flight groups. See below.
The instructions are in the form of a long folded sheet which consists of 8 panels. Unlike many kits from Japan the instructions are predominately in Japanese. The cautions are duplicated in English as are part numbers and color names but there are notes and such on some pages in Japanese only. Most of the diagrams are self explanatory so hopefully this won't be that much of an issue. Be careful when installing the vertical tail piece as one of the marking sets uses an alternative piece. The assembly is broken down into 14 steps over 6 panels, the last two panels detail the paint and marking locations. again most of the information is mostly in Japanese with color names and decal numbers in English. An additional folded page is included with what I assume is history of the aircraft and a brief description of three of the pilots that flew the aircraft depicted in the various markings supplied. There are also some maps and other details about the aircraft and additional details that were apparently available at the time of the kits release. Once again this is all in Japanese so it was not helpful unless you can read Japanese.
After Market Goodies
The only thing item I chose to get for this kit was a set of resin exhausts from Quick Boost. They will save me from trying to hollow out the ends of the exhaust stubs. The Quick Boost part number is QB 48283. See below.
Squadron apparently makes or made at one time a vacuform canopy for those who want to open it up or have one a bit thinner, however, it is for the standard variants of the D4Y2 and the night fighter version used a different wind screen so to be accurate the kit windscreen would need to be used. Eduard makes a canopy mask for it, their number Xf133.
This appears to be a nice kit however it should be treated as you would a limited run kit ans don't expect the fit to be up to Hasegawa or Tamiya standards. Recommended for modelers with some limited run kit experience.
Links to kit build or reviews
There is an inbox review here of the non night fighter version and a build / review here.
Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War by R.J. Francillon
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