Extremely rare Japanese Navy Air Force Aichi D3A1 Type 99 'Val' dive bomber relic display, souvenir taken in China by AVG Sergeant c. 1943. Red rudder fabric from aircraft s/n 317 - the 17th 'Val' ever built, in February 1940.
The Japanese Type 99 dive bomber, or 'Kanbaku', was best known for its historic role in the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time it was the best-performing and most modern dive bomber in the world, and not a bad dog-fighter, either. This 1 x 2-inch piece of bright red-lacquered linen, cut from this aircraft's starboard rudder, was cut from wreckage discovered outside of Kunming, China in May of 1943, and preserved in a scrapbook by then-Sergeant Robert Ruddick of the American Volunteer Group (AVG). This 'Val' operated with the 14th Kokutai, and was shot down by Chinese pilots in an aerial battle over Kunming, on or around May 15th, that was loosely described in a short article published by The War Area Service Corps (WASC Bulletin), a few days later. Preserved with the rudder fabric was also a section of aluminum, from the vertical stabilizer, that included this aircraft's serial number (this rare relic now resides in the Kawaguchiko Fighter Museum in Japan).
This aircraft relic is very rare. Prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War, Japanese Naval aircraft were brightly marked in a way that was similar to US Army and Navy aircraft of the day, so that they would be easily identifiable and visible from the air in the event of an accident. Aircraft such as this Kanbaku, were left in a polished natural metal, with a very dark blue/black cowling, and bright, glossy, red tail planes. These aircraft that participated in the Pearl Harbor attack were only camouflaged aboard their aircraft carriers on their way across the Pacific, while those operating in China tended to retain their pre-war markings until much later, and all new aircraft coming off of the assembly lines after 1941 were camouflaged gray overall (or green/gray after May 1943). Very few samples of this pre-war red material, therefore, survive today.
Each display is 13x19-inches, and signed & numbered by the artist - one of only about 30.
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