CAC Winjeel - Australia, 1955
Detailing the development and operational history of the CAC Winjeel Basic Trainer Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 4/25/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Winjeel served RAAF personnel throughout most of the Cold War, eventually being retired by 1995.
The Australian aero industry has produced a few notable aircraft for its part in aviation history. One of its entrants became the "Winjeel" of 1955 which was manufactured to the tune of some 64 aircraft under the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) brand label. CAC was founded in 1936, just prior to World War 2 (1939-1945), and managed several wartime designs during the period including the "Boomerang" monoplane fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site) which did see service in the grand conflict. CAC, as an entity, lasted until 1985 when it came under the Hawker de Havilland name. Boeing Australia purchased its evolved form, Hawker de Havilland Victoria, in 2000 which meant the CAC name fell to history.
The Winjeel was developed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a basic trainer seating two-to-three crewmen. The design came about to fulfill requirement No.AC77 by the RAAF which sought such an aircraft type to add to its post-war inventory in 1948. CAC engineers responded with a pair of prototypes under the CA-22 designation and a first flight was had on February 23rd, 1955. The design flew well, quite well in fact, that it was much too stable to be used as a training tool and thus engineers were forced to "destabilize" the aircraft some so as to allow students to experience spinning and recovery phases. With some modification, the aircraft reemerged as the CA-25 and serial production followed which delivered 62 aircraft - the first coming in September of 1955 to the No.1 Basic Flight Training School of New South Wales.
In service the Winjeel was a sound training platform. Final deliveries came in August of 1957 and the type soldiered on during a lengthy service life which saw the last of its kind given up (in the training role) in 1975. A short-lived endeavor nearly saw the line replaced in full by the incoming Italian-originated Macchi MB-326 series which would have had the Winjeels out of service in the late-1960s. Just over a dozen were retained into the mid-1990s as light utility, Forward Air Control (FAC) platforms until completely succeeded by the light Swiss Pilatus PC-9 line. All Winjeels were out of military service for 1995 and some fell to private ownership from there.
The finalized Winjeel design form was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R985-AN-2 "Wasp Junior" 9-cylinder radial piston engine outputting 445 horsepower. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 185 miles per hour, a cruise speed of 165 miles per hour, a service ceiling up to 18,000 feet and a rate-of-climb equal to 1,500 feet per minute.
Never armed by default, some Winjeels were equipped to carry smoke bombs to mark ground targets.