The Aichi Type 99 Carrier-based Bomber (D3A) was the Japanese equivalent of the Ju 87 Stuka. For several years, the graceful, fixed-gear IJN dive-bomber wreaked havoc on countless Allied installations and shipping. Despite being Japan's premier ship-killer, few English-language books have been published detailing the development and combat history of the D3A. Happily, Osamu Tagaya, who has written extensively on Japanese aircraft, and Osprey Publishing combined talents to produce this comprehensive, nicely-illustrated summary of the Aichi's early years of service.
Entering service in 1939, the D3A was soon combat-tested over China. Playing a leading role in the Pearl Harbor attack, the D3A spearheaded the IJN's subsequent sweep across the Pacific. Its expert crews, growing ever-deadlier, compiled a combat record second to none, culminating in their devastating April 1942 attacks on cruisers HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire along with aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, which saw the D3A squadrons scoring the highest hit ratio by dive-bombers in history. The Aichi squadrons added two American carriers to the total - USS Lexington at Coral Sea and USS Yoktown at Midway - but Midway spelled the end of Japan's victories.
The definitive book on the Aichi Type 99 is undoubtedly Peter Smith's AICHI D3A1/2 VAL, published by Crowood in 1999. However, Tagaya's book is a fresh, updated, eminently readable book tracing the D3A's devlopment and first years of combat. I wish Tagaya could have included more reminiscences from D3A crews but I doubt many survived the war!
The illustrations especially Jim Laurier's first-class color profiles of 15 D3As are a big plus. And I have to give a special nod to Mark Postlethwaite for his evocative cover art showing the D3A of LCdr. Kakuichi Takahashi posed over Ford Island about to roll in and deliver the first bomb of the Pearl Harbor attack. Very well-done, atmospheric artwork.
In short, fans of the Pacific air war, IJN air units or dive-bombers in general should find something of interest in AICHI 99 KANBAKU 'VAL' UNITS, 1937-42. Recommended.