CAC Wackett Basic Trainer
The CAC Wackett trainer became the first aircraft design of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation of Australia.
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The CAC Wackett was an indigenously designed and developed dedicated basic trainer for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during World War 2. CAC was perhaps best known for its CAC "Boomerang" fighter, which followed the Wackett into service, allowing an aero industry to be established in Australia during a particularly dangerous and volatile period for the country. The expansion of the Japanese in the Pacific was a real and ever-growing threat to Australian sovereignty and less foreign reliance on military goods would prove beneficial in the long run. The Wackett eventually served Australia, the Netherlands and Indonesia before seeing formal retirement and a second life in the post-war years under private ownership and as crop dusting platforms.
The Royal Australian Air Force delivered Specification 3/38 in 1938 seeking a dedicated training platform for new generations of Australian pilots. The type would have to be a cost-effective solution utilizing basic construction practices and feature tandem seating for two - student and instructor. Additionally, as the aircraft would be wholly-constructed in Australia, it would have to keep to a simply approach to utilize the industrial capabilities of the nation - ultimately relying on use of some steel, wood and fabric throughout its construction.
Australia entered World War 2 on September 3rd, 1939, declaring war on Germany days after its brazen invasion of Poland. Ultimately, the war would commit nearly 1 million Aussies in which over 27,000 would be killed. Australian forces fought across both Europe and North Africa alongside Britain and Commonwealth forces while, closer to home, it was also forced to help contain - and ultimately defeat - the Empire of Japan with an alliance including the United States and Britain. Australia proved a stout fighting force, particularly in the early going of the Pacific campaign - before the arrival of the United States in 1942 - when Australian shores were under direct threat from the Japanese.
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, established since 1936 with the purpose of producing both aero engines and airframes, delivered its submission in the form of the CA-2. The design was developed around a tubular fuselage with steel understructure while wood was used to produce the skeleton of the wings. Fabric then covered the empennage while metal skin was used in the forward section. The crew sat in tandem as requested, under a heavily-framed canopy offering good views from either position. The nose section was rather short which allowed for improved forward views compared to contemporaries of the time. Wings were low-mounted appendages and the undercarriage was fixed with single-wheeled main legs and a single-wheeled tail leg.