Battle-scarred Japanese dive bomber helps tell fuller story of Pearl Harbor attack
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - During the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Imperial Japan used Aichi Dive Bombers to deliver their payloads. The type of aircraft was known as the “Val.”
“For the first 10 months of the war against the Allies, it was responsible for the sinking of more ships than any other aircraft,” said Rod Bengston, lead curator for the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
There are just a few models of the airplane left that are entirely authentic, and the aviation museum just got its hands on one.
It acquired a “Val” from an island near Papua New Guinea.
“We received the fuselage. We’ll have another shipment in a couple of weeks. We hope to get the engine, the wings. Over the next couple of months, we’ll acquire as much of the aircraft as we can,” museum executive director Elissa Line said.
The aircraft’s battle-scarred body will help the museum tell the story of what the plane went through during the war.
“It looks like it has damage from carpet bombing of an airfield next to its revetment. And then it appears to have been strafed, probably not with a crew in it, on the ground, from above on an angle,” Bengston said.
The “Val” was among a trio of different combat aircraft Japan used in the Pearl Harbor attack.
The aviation museum now has a model of all three in its collection.
“Seeing the planes really helps you understand the impact that was made on that day,” Lines said.
It will take two to three years to make the Aichi Dive Bomber resemble what it looked it when Japanese pilots flew in its cockpit.
“You’ll get the full profile from the engine all the way to the tail, and from the wheels all the way up to the canopy of a full ‘Val’ that really no one else has,” Bengston said.
You can watch the aircraft take shape in the museum’s Hangar 79.
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is fundraising for the “Val” project. To contribute, click here.
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