CAC Boomerang

The CAC Boomerang was a World War II fighter aircraft designed and manufactured in Australia between 1942 and 1945. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation produced Boomerangs under the production contract numbers CA-12, CA-13, CA-14 and CA-19, with aircraft supplied under each subsequent contract incorporating modifications and improvements. The Boomerang is significant as the first combat aircraft designed and built in Australia.


CAC Boomerang
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation
Production Period 1942 - 1945
Origin Australia
Country Name Origin Year
Australia 1942
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia 1942 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation 1942 1945 250 View

Variants

  • CA-12 (Mark I) : The first single-seat fighter version, 105 built.
  • CA-13 (Mark II) : Improved version of the CA-12, 95 built.
  • CA-14 : One aircraft fitted with a turbo-supercharged engine, did not enter production. Serial number A46-1001.
  • CA-14A : The CA-14 prototype was later modified to have a square tail and rudder
  • CA-19 : Tactical reconnaissance variant with a single vertical camera in the fuselage, 49 built. Serial numbers: A46-201 to A46-249.

Boomerangs that reached RAAF training and frontline units were delivered under three different CAC production contract numbers: CA-12, CA-13 and CA-19, incorporating various minor improvements and modifications. A total of 250 aircraft of these marques were built: 105 CA-12s, 95 CA-13s and 49 CA-19s. The CA-13 and CA-19 are sometimes known collectively as the Boomerang Mark II. On 19 October 1942, CA-12 A46-6 (bu. no. 829) became the first Boomerang to reach a training/conversion unit, when it was transferred to No. 2 OTU, from 1 AD. No. 83 Squadron (83 Sqn) became the first fighter unit to receive Boomerangs, when several were delivered to it – replacing Airacobras – at Strathpine Airfield, in Strathpine, Queensland, on 10 April 1943. A few weeks afterward, CA-12s were also received by a frontline air defence unit, No. 84 Squadron which was stationed on Horn Island Airfield, in Torres Strait. The third Boomerang fighter unit, No. 85 Squadron – like 83 Sqn – was performing home defence duties, at RAAF Guildford (known later as Perth Airport); the Boomerangs replaced the squadron's Buffaloes.

On the evening of 20 May 1943, Flight Lieutenant Roy Goon became the first Boomerang pilot to scramble on the Australian mainland against Japanese bombers. Goon, part of an 85 Sqn detachment at RAAF Learmonth, near Exmouth, Western Australia, undertaking air defence of the Allied naval base at Exmouth Gulf (codenamed "Potshot"), took off to intercept Japanese bombers. After Goon had sighted them, the bombers dropped their payloads wide of their target and left the area. 84 Sqn had been deployed to Horn Island – a US Army Air Forces bomber base – in an attempt to address Japanese air raids and the continuing shortage of fighters in this area. The squadron was only modestly successful however. The Boomerang's low top speed and poor high altitude performance meant that No. 84 could drive off enemy attacks but rarely could get close enough to Japanese aircraft to bring their guns to bear. On the only occasion that a Boomerang did close on a Japanese aircraft, its guns jammed. There were not many air raids in this area, and after using Boomerangs for eight months No. 84 Sqn upgraded to the Kittyhawk.

Role Fighter aircraft
National origin Australia
Manufacturer Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation
First flight 29 May 1942
Introduction 1943
Status Retired
Primary user Royal Australian Air Force
Produced 1942–1945
Number built 250


General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 25 ft 6 in (7.77 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 7 in (2.92 m)
  • Wing area: 225 ft² (20.9 m²)
  • Empty weight: 5,373 lb (2,437 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 7,699 lb (3,492 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engine, 1,200 hp (895 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 305 mph (265 knots, 491 km/h) at 15,500 ft (4,730 m)
  • Range: 930 mi (810 nm, 1,500 km)
  • Service ceiling: 29,000 ft (8,800 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,940 ft/min (14.9 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 34.2 lb/ft² (167.1 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.16 hp/lb (256 W/kg)

Armament

  • Guns:
    2× 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano or CAC cannons
    4× 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns
  • Bombs: Could be fitted when the large drop tank was not carried

End notes