CAC Woomera (A23) Multirole Aircraft / Light Bomber / Reconnaissance / Dive Bomber / Torpedo Bomber
The RAAF order for 105 CAC Woomera bombers was cancelled due to large surpluses of war goods incoming from Britain and the US by 1944.
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The CAC A23 "Woomera" was a short-lived dive bomber/torpedo bomber of Australian design during World War 2. The push of Japanese forces into the Pacific naturally placed the nation of Australia in direct and immediate danger though the country found itself without the internal means to produce for a war time economy. As such, Australia relied heavily on British and American support throughout the war, awaiting deliveries and receiving assistance in setting up a war time infrastructure. However, much of these early war years were spent developing several indigenous military weapons while foreign deliveries were inevitably delayed, tied up by needs of the host country. One such indigenously-design product became the Woomera, a twin-engined bombing platform intended to stock the ranks of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) when initial deliveries of British warplanes were rerouted for other requirements of the Empire.
It was originally expected in 1939 that the Australians would benefit from local production of British Bristol Beauforts. The Beaufort was a conventional bomber designed for the torpedo bombing role, the aircraft appearing in 1939 and being built in 2,129 examples before the end of production. However, progress was slow and the war in Europe took on a rather serious note for the British mainland in the summer of 1940. German airpower was fixed on dismantling Britain through an air war - the Battle of Britain - to prepare the way for a grand invasion of the island through Hitler's Operation Sea Lion. As such, any war-quality material and natural resource was committed to the defense of the island and this left the Australians with little to go on.
About the time the Australian government had elected to purchase the Bristol Beaufort for local production, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) began work on a competing design intended to best the British design and secure the lucrative defense contract therein. CAC put forth a similar-minded two-engine design crewed by three personnel (pilot, bomber/navigator and rear gunner) and developed on a low-monoplane wing assembly. The aircraft was envisioned to double as both the requisite torpedo bomber and as a dive bomber in the traditional sense with perhaps reconnaissance and light bombing as second qualities. As such, the aircraft would have to be quite robust for the rigors of both roles. One of the interesting design elements of this new aircraft was in its sealed wings which served to hold stores of fuel in an effort to make for a lighter aircraft (as opposed to those beginning use of self-sealing fuel tanks). Another facet of the design was its use of nacelle-mounted remote-controlled turret barbettes (each fitting 2 x .303 machine guns) intended to counter rear trailing aircraft (aiming from the rear cockpit position via a periscope). Power was supplied by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-S3CS radial piston engines - one installation to each wing and produced under a local CAC license. The crew sat under a greenhouse canopy in a centerline arrangement. The aircraft was offensively armed with 4 x .303 caliber machine guns in the nose and could carry drop bombs and torpedoes or a mix of the two. External fuel tanks for extended ranges could also be fielded. The undercarriage consisted of two double-wheeled main landing gear legs and a small single-wheeled tailwheel.