Suisei was developed starting in 1938 at the Yokosuka Naval Air Technical Arsenal, based on two Heinkel He 118 dive bombers that had been supplied by Germany. Service trials demonstrated weakness in the wing structure, a fatal flaw for an airframe subject to the stresses of the dive bombing maneuver, and the initial models were used as reconnaissance planes starting in late 1942.
These problems were fixed by March 1943, and ultimately 2,038 were produced, mostly by Aichi. Lacking armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, the Suiseis did not do well against Allied fighter aircraft. They did, however, cause considerable damage to ships, including the carrier USS Franklin, which was nearly sunk by a single “Judy”.