Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units
Series: Osprey Combat Aircraft 140
By Mark Chambers, Illustrated by Jim Laurier
Softcover, 96 pages, index, 30 color profiles
Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2021
Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches
The D4Y Suisei (Comet) was a Japanese carrier-based dive bomber, designed to replace the Aichi D3A “Val”. It was initially powered by a license-built Daimler-Benz DB 601 twelve-cylinder inline engine which gave it an impressive speed and sleek profile. Later versions were powered by a Mitsubishi Kinsei 42 fourteen-cylinder radial engine due to reliability and maintenance issues with the inlines. The type suffered from an unusually long developmental period while various bugs were worked out, which delayed its service introduction until the middle of the Pacific War. By then Japan had suffered numerous setbacks, and the general decline in pilot training and loss of aircraft carriers reduced the potential impact of the design.
The book covers the Judy’s design history and operational service, along with reconnaissance, dive bombing, nightfighter, and Kamikaze variants. The type was first used operationally when a developmental aircraft was used for reconnaissance, flying from Soryu during the Battle of Midway. Similarly, the fourth prototype operated from Shokaku during the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942. Notable successes were the sinking of USS Princeton (CVL-23) by a Judy Kamikaze, and the near-sinking of the USS Franklin (CV-13) by conventional dive-bombing attack. Kamikaze operations are covered in detail, with a number of pages devoted to the tactics and procedures which they employed. The final section is devoted to the use of the Judy as a nightfighter.
Like the rest of the Osprey Combat Aircraft series the highlight of the book is the full-color profiles. These are well-rendered and thoroughly researched. However, like most Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft, the camouflage was limited to the green over gray scheme with only some variation in the standard markings so there is not much variety. The earliest profiles are of 1943 machines, so if you’re looking for the Midway or Santa Cruz Judys you’ll need to keep looking. Despite that the book is well-researched and enlightening, and any book on Japanese aircraft (particularly in English) is most welcome. Recommended.