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  D3A2 Model 22 Val Manufacture Number 3178  
IJN
Zuikaku Air Group

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Ray Fairfield 1967

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R Diemert via CAF 1968

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John Loughman 1969

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Dave Fletcher 1969

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Planes of Fame 1991

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Justin Taylan 2010

Aircraft History
Built by Aichi, completed during early April 1943. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as D3A2 Model 22 Val manufacture number 3178.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Zuikaku Air Group. The fuselage had two vertical white stripes on the rear fuselage behind the Hinomaru. No known tail code. This aircraft was painted with dark green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. The leading edge of the wing had a yellow identification stripe.

During early April 1943 this aircraft land based at Ballale Airfield during Operation I-Go Sakusen. Afterwards, abandoned due to battle damage or was disabled on the ground. During the war, the engine was removed and the cockpit were stripped for usable parts.

Wreckage
Remained in situ on near the landing area until 1968. A tree impact dented the spine of the tail.

Recovery
Recovered by Robert Diemert in 1698. This Val was cut into components. Removed along with: A6M2 3471, A6M2 Zero Houkoku 1045 and a D3A2 Val 3178 in addition to other Zero parts.

The aircraft were transported by barge to Port Moresby where they were stored for a month outdoors at Jackson Airport. They were left in a pile until the middle of January 1969 when Robert Diemert setup an export deal with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to transport the wreckage aboard a Hercules to Canada.

Restoration
This was the first of the recovered Japanese aircraft to be restored by Robert Diemert at his private airport Friendship Airfield in Carman, Canada. This Val was restored using a Wright R-2600 radial engine. By the end of November 1969, this Val was ready to make an initial test flight.

First Flight
On November 22, 1969 took off from Friendship Airfield piloted by Robert Diemert on a first flight but had not yet registered or cleared. In anticipation of the flight, the Canadian Department Of Transport (DOT) had officers on the ground at the airport to to arrest him when he landed. Instead, he flew about 20 miles to land at RCAF Station Macdonald near Portage la Prairie.

Being a military base, the DOT had no authority and could not arrest the pilot. Diemert reported getting the plane to 260 knots, but felt that it was capable of 325. He said: "It handled like a big AT-6. Heavy on the controls, but "quite speedy and very maneuverable, of course."

Later, he flew the aircraft to Ottawa Airport and delivered it to the Canadian National Aviation Museum, in exchange for the transportation services provided by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) when transporting the Japanese wreckage to Canada in January 1969.

Display
Between 1970–1991, the Val was displayed at the Canadian National Aviation Museum.

In 1991 the Val was traded to the Planes of Fame Museum in exchange for a helicopter with Canadian provenance.  Painted in the markings of a D3A Val tail BII-201 assigned to the Hiryu Air Group, 2nd Carrier Division during the early Pacific War painted overall gray with tail code BII-201 with a red stripe above and below the code. The rear fuselage had two vertical blue stripes rear of the Hinomaru outlined by a white border. The cowling was painted black with the leading edge of the wing with a yellow identification stripe.

Today, this Val remains in storage at Planes of Fame Museum restoration hanger, in a partially restored state. No immediate timetable for further restoration is planned, although the museum does expect to re-restore the plane at some point in the future.

References
"Serial Number & Production Sequence D3A2 Carrier Bombers" by Jim Long
Winnipeg Free Press "D. O. T. Edict Fails To Halt Val Divebomber Test Flight" November 24, 1969 page 1
"Zero Recovery & Restoration" by Confederate Air Force (photo)
A Brief History of the Blayd Zero and Its Markings by Ryan Toews June 15, 2014 page 1
"These wrecks included several Zeros and one Aichi D3A2 Val dive bomber [this aircraft]... In the interviews he claimed to have found fourteen aircraft on Ballale Island - two Vals and twelve Zeros. One of the Vals was reasonably intact, but the other one was deemed good only for a few parts."
Thanks to Ryan Toews, Mark Foster and Edward Maloney for additional information

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Last Updated
October 22, 2018

 

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