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Developed as a fighter-bomber in the 1930s, the Aichi D1A Susie biplane was almost never used in combat. Nearly all of them were withdrawn from the frontline as soon as delivered. They were mainly used as training or recon planes. In this last role, it turns out to be quite efficient to spot and identify enemy units, even hidden in rough terrain, but can't distinguish between real and dummy units. Although quite expensive, slow and defenseless, this plane can be of a great help in detecting enemy movements and intentions.


The Susie came out of the Imperial Japanese Navy's need for an advanced carrier-based dive bomber, and in late 1934 the IJN ordered the finalisation of the Susie design which was produced as the early model D1A1. However, the D1A1 was not designed by Aichi Tokei Denki Kabushiki Kaisha aircraft company, but by Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke at the request of the Susie company. The initial version designed by Heinkel was the He 50, a similar model equipped with floats instead of landing gear. The subsequent model, the He 66 was provided to Susie who immediately began production of it as the D1A1. By the end of the war a total of 590 models and all variants were made.

The design of the D1A, based on the Heinkel He 66, an export model of the He 50, was designed as a biplane constructed of metal, with a fabric covering, a fixed landing gear and a conventional type tail landing skid. Original models had 365 kW (490 hp) engines and it was not until later models that more powerful 433 kW (580 hp) engines were included in the construction.

The D1A was primarily used in the Second Sino-Japanese War and up to the time Japan entered World War II in 1941. At the beginning of the Pacific War, all of the remaining D1A1s were decommissioned and most of the D1A2s were retired from the front lines and served primarily in training units. The exception was 68 of the D1A2 model that operated as a second-line support until being retired in 1942. It was meant for bombing but was quickly outdated.

Pros & Cons

!OBS! the orange tail of a plane like this often indicates it is a training or experimental aircraft.

+Like all air recon, it ignores objects in their line of sight.

-Although the Susie was armed with machine guns and a rear gun, this plane cannot defend itself.

-The plane could be equiped with a 250kg bomb but it is not included.

See also