Japanese Val Dive Bomber Site Sent From USS Lexington
Japanese Type 95 Sight, used on the famous Aichi D3A “VAL” Dive Bomber. Mounted on the front of the aircraft, just forward of the cockpit windscreen, and used to line up the target for dive-bombing. Another version of the Type-95 sight was manufactured with a cross hair reticule for use as a machine gun sight on fighter aircraft. A groove inside the front of the tube allowed the cross hair reticule to be mounted when the sight was used as a machine gun sight. The front of the sight was protected by a rounded conical cover, held in place by a spring-loaded rod. This rod could be actuated by an extension rod from within the cockpit, to push the lens cover out, and rotate it out of the field of view, when the sight was used. When not bombing the sight was covered to prevent damage to or obstruction of the lens. When the sight was removed, it was stored in a special hinged wooden case, numbered to the sight. The sight tubes were about 28.5” with the front lens protector in place.
The Japanese Aichi D3A1 Dive Bomber, code named VAL by the US, was adopted by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in 1939. It was the first monoplane dive-bomber to see use on Japanese aircraft carriers. Primary weapon was a single 250kg bomb sometimes replaced with a pair of 60kg. The D3A1 was very successful during its initial operations and played a major role in the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Aichi D3As were directly responsible for the sinking no less than 22 allied ships, not including joint aircraft attacks. These kills included the American aircraft carriers USS Bismarck Sea, USS Ommaney Bay, USS Lexington (CV-2) at the battle of the Coral Sea, USS Yorktown CV-5) at the Battle of Midway, and USS Hornet (CV-8) at the Battle of Santa Cruz. Late in the war the Vals were used on Kamikaze missions off Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The sight is in VERY FINE condition and retains about 90%+ of its original black paint, with only some minor chipping and wear from light use and handling. The sight is clearly labeled near the rear of the tube:
1 X 20°
(Oigee Nihon-Kogaku Logo)
(Japanese Character within a circle)
The Japanese character probably says “Type 95”. The front lens cover is in tact, original and complete, although the actual cover is slightly bent. This is probably from years of pressure from the spring system.. The original rubber washer is in place inside the lens cover and is number 936 in pencil, matching the serial number sight. The original Japanese specifications (or possibly instruction) sheet is retained with the sight. It is also numbered to the sight in ink, 936 and is covered with a variety of printed Japanese characters, as well as additional stamped characters that probably represent inspection and approval. A handful of hand written characters are present on the lower right hand corner of the sheet. The sight is contained in its original case. The original ID plate is present on the box, showing the serial number 936, the production date April of 1944, and Imperial Japanese Naval anchor stamp. One of the two small screws which the closure latches hook onto when they are closed is missing. The case is in GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition and shows a variety of bumps, dings and wear marks. Eight small holes (in four pairs) are present in the lid, which is where the screws that held the upper supports originally were. This item was sent home from World War II as a war trophy. One typewritten label reads: THIS BOX CONTAINS A SCOPE FOR / JAPANESE GUN. / VLAUE UNDER 50 Dollars. / THIS BOX MAY BE OPENED FOR INSPECTION. Most interestingly the other label reads in the “from” portion:
GEORGE HEMMERT S2/C
U.S.S. Lexington, S-1 Div.
C/o F.P.O. San Francisco, California
The label is addressed to:
3158 Grant Avenue
George entered the Navy in 1944 after two years of college in New Mexico. As the USS Lexington (CV-16) was present at the Battle of Iwo Jima, where Aichi D3A aircraft flew Kamikaze missions, I would have to guess that a Marine found the sight in its box at the airfield and then traded it as a war trophy for something much more useful to him, like socks or cigarettes. Any D3As that flew Kamikaze missions had no need for their dive-bombing sights to be installed and they would have been left in their cases at the airfield. George Hemmert became one of the first US Navy officers to be commissioned from the ranks under a new program that encouraged enlisted men to earn a 4-year degree and then return to the Navy as officers. Further research is possible here.
These sights are very rare and few survive today. All pieces on this set have matching numbers. A small binder of information about the Aichi D3A dive-bomber, some information about George Hemmert and the original Japanese information sheet (noted above) is included. Great piece!