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.
Status Retired, Out-of-Service
Production 250 Units
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) - Australia
25.49 ft (7.77 m)
35.99 ft (10.97 m)
9.58 ft (2.92 m)
5,373 lb (2,437 kg)
8,250 lb (3,742 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the CAC Boomerang CA-13 (Mark II) production model)
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3C4 Twin Wasp radial piston engine developing 1,200 horsepower.
305 mph (491 kph; 265 kts)
34,006 feet (10,365 m; 6.44 miles)
1,600 miles (2,575 km; 1,390 nm)
2,940 ft/min (896 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the CAC Boomerang CA-13 (Mark II) production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
4 x 7.7mm machine guns
2 x 20mm cannons in wings
(Showcased armament details pertain to the CAC Boomerang CA-13 (Mark II) production model)
CA-12 (Mark I) - Initial Production Model; 105 examples produced.
CA-13 (Mark II) - "Improved" CA-12 Model; 95 examples produced.
CA-14 - Single Production Example featuring turbo-supercharged powerplant; never produced.
CA-14A - Based on the single C-14 prototype but with redesign tail elements.
CA-19 - Reconnaissance Platform fitted with single camera; 49 examples produced.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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