|When Japan entered World
War II in December 1941, the RAAF did not possess a single fighter
aircraft for home defence and, consequently, a decision was hurriedly
made to produce a local fighter as a stop-gap measure to meet the
threatened Japanese onslaught. Fortunately, the Commonwealth Aircraft
Corporation already had plans in hand for an interceptor aircraft, and
this promising design was ordered into production on February 2
Thus, Australia's first single-seat
fighter came from an organisation headed by Lawrence Wackett, who was
also responsible for the country's first indigenous fighter, the
two-seat Wackett Warrigal Mk II of 1930.
Named the Boomerang, the new fighter
was designed as an interceptor with a high rate of climb and good
manoeuvrability. To obtain the best performance, the aircraft was fitted
with the most powerful engine in Australia - the 1,200 hp Twin Wasp
which was in production for the DAP Bristol Beaufort. Airframe
construction was accelerated by incorporating many Wirraway components,
and production proceeded so well that the first aircraft progressed from
drawing board to test flight in less than four months.
Test pilot Ken Frewin flew A46-1 on
May 29 1942, and subsequent tests revealed that the Boomerang had a
lively performance, good handling qualities, and was an effective
gun-platform for its cannons and machine-guns. As production progressed,
many improvements and modifications were incorporated, and the various
standard versions were grouped under three CAC designations: CA-12,
CA-13 and CA-19. In addition, a high performance prototype, the CA-14
was built with a turbo-supercharger.
This same aircraft was later
streamlined and fitted with a square-cut tail assembly and became the
CA-14A. Altogether, 250 Boomerangs were built and the various versions
included 105 CA-12s, (A46-1/105), 95 CA-13s (A46-106/200), 49 CA-19s
(A46-201/249), whilst the sole CA-14/CA-14A was numbered in the
prototype range as A46-1001.
The RAAF accepted the first Boomerang,
A46-1, on July 15 1942, and the last aircraft, A46-249 was delivered on
February 1 1945. Initial pilot conversion was carried out with No 2
Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Mildura, and these pilots formed the
first operational units, Nos 83, 84 and 85 Sqns.
The first enemy contact was made on
May 16 1943, when Boomerangs from No 84 Sqn intercepted and drove off
three Betty bombers. For many months, the Boomerangs successfully
carried out many similar sorties until, eventually, they were replaced
by Kittyhawks and Spitfires.
Relegated to the army co-operation
role with Nos 4 and 5 Sqn the Boomerangs soon established a high
reputation for effective strikes throughout New Guinea, the Solomon
Islands, and Borneo; particularly so in co-ordinated operations with
The operational effectiveness of the
Boomerang was due largely to the extensive evaluation program carried
out by No 1 APU under Sqn Ldr J.H. Harper. In particular, test flying on
the supercharged CA-14A, A46-1001 developed this version into an
effective high altitude interceptor. Also, it is interesting to record
that a Boomerang at No 1 APU was modified to take two seats; the second
position was placed inside the fuselage behind the pilot and was used by
an observer to record instrument and performance data.
(CAC CA-12 Boomerang)
DESCRIPTION: Single-seat interceptor
and ground attack fighter. Metal and wood construction.
POWER PLANT: One 1,200 hp CAC licence
built Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp R1830.
DIMENSIONS: Span, 36 ft; length, 26 ft
9 ins; height, 9 ft. 7 ins.
WEIGHTS: Empty, 5,373 lb; loaded 7,699
PERFORMANCE: Max speed, 305 mph at
15,000 ft. Initial rate of climb, 2,940 ft/min. Service ceiling 29,000
ARMAMENT: Two 20 mm Hispano or CAC
manufactured cannons. Four 0.303 Browning machine-guns. Bombs could be
substituted when the large drop tank was not carried.