CAC Boomerang Single-Seat. Single-Engine Monoplane Fighter Aircraft
The Commonwealth Boomerang was a respectable fighter design emerging from Australia and fielded in response to the impending Japanese invasion of the Australian mainland.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Commonwealth Boomerang (also known as the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation - or "CAC" - Boomerang) was of completely Australian indigenous design. Based on the CAC Wirraway, which in turn was spawned from the American NA-16 trainer aircraft produced by North American, the Boomerang was developed in direct response to the impending Japanese invasion of the Australian homeland. As with other facets of Australian war-production, aviation design was hardly given much attention prior to the war. However, with the consistent advancements made by Imperial Japan throughout Asia and in the Pacific, Australian soil was now ripe for the taking. It would seem that this British Commonwealth territory might be no more.
The Boomerang was of a utilitarian and highly conventional design, appearing much in line with those early stout fuselage monoplanes featured in the latter half of the 1930's. Wings - which were taken directly from the Wirraway design - were forward and low-mounted on the fuselage which, in turn, was of an all-new design. Additionally, the empennage and the retractable landing gear system were also of the preceding design's creation which essentially made the Boomerang something of a conversion model to her origins. The pilot sat behind the powerplant compartment and was situated under a glazed canopy. Armament was excellent and consisted of 2 x 20mm cannons in the wings and an array of 4 x 7.7mm machine guns in the wings.
With aircraft development hitting full stride in England and the United States, the Pratt & Whitney brand Twin Wasp series engine was deemed too underpowered for their new design. As such, a surplus of this engine type was made available for use in Australia and was promptly set into the Boomerang fuselage. The mating of such power and design produced an aircraft capable of just over 300 miles per hour with a ceiling of 34,000 feet and a range of 1,600 miles. The Pratt & Whitney radial was listed with an output of 1,200 horsepower. From design to flying prototype, the CAC team created the Boomerang in a short three month span of development.
At first glance, the statistics could appear quite pedestrian considering the type would be fighting against the powerful Nakajima, Aichi and Mitsubishi Japanese designs of the Pacific but the Boomerang surprisingly faired quite well in the theater - for the short time it was given to operate. Factors leading to its success were directly tied to the systems ability to withstand punishment, deliver formidable firepower onto its target through its combination machine gun and cannon armament and turn right alongside the best Japanese fighters.
As quickly as the Boomerang arrived into frontline service, it just as quickly gave way to the more capable American designs coming off the assembly lines at a record pace. Once surplus resources had been built up in the United States, both Canada and Australia (as well as Britain) were quickly fielding the now available American designs en mass. Nevertheless, the symbol that was the Boomerang would long remain the symbol of the nation that put forth a proud effort in the design and production of a wartime fighter when it needed one most.
Only some 250 examples were ever produced, making it one of the rarest production fighters of the war.