The Aircraft of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation

The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is the best known of the Australian aircraft manufacturers of the Word War II era and post war era. The aircraft began as a private corporation founded by Lawrence Wackett who had been a Captain with the Australian Flying Corps and known for his engineering ingenuity. After World War I, Wackett had begun manufacturing and designing Civil Aircraft. In the 30's CAC took up the license for the North American NA-16, or the Texan or Harvard as it was known. This was to become the CAC Wirraway, which served Australia in training and combat including a kill over a Zero when a 4 Sqn RAAF Wirraway shot down a Zero over New Guinea. CAC designed the training aircraft the Wackett and then the stop gap fighter, the Boomerang. Which was the only indiginously designed and built aircraft to see combat in WWII. The factory having a good working relationship with North American also produced the Mustang in later years.

Other Australian manufacturers such as DAP, GAF and DeHavilland Australia built aircraft in Australia for the RAAF. The best known of these is DAP who produced the Beaufighters which became known as "Whispering Death" to the Japanese. DAP also produced the Beaufort, and many more licensed aircraft. DAP was to become GAF which manufactured the Lincoln post war that saw service with 1 Sqn in Malaya. GAF was later to produce the first Australian manned jet, the Pika, the jet target tug Jindivik which is still in export and the Nomad. deHavilland Australia produced the huge amounts of Tiger Moths that were used for training in Australia as well as the Mosquito for Pacific service.

During the war CAC produced two interesting prototypes which unfortunately never made it into production. The Woomera which was a three seater medium bomber that had remotely operated turrets in the rear engine nacelles. The second was the interceptor, the Ca-15 or Kangaroo. A 721 km/h fast fighter with a range of 4000 km's. After the war CAC produced the CAC Sabre, one of the ultimate Sabres of the type. With a more powerful Avon turbojet and twin 30mm cannons the frame was 60% redesigned.

For more information on the Military Aircraft of Australia the AusAviation website has available many titles which cover the aircraft mentioned here.

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CAC Wirraway : Aboriginal for "Challenge", the Wirraway was the companies first aircraft and based upon the NA-16. The Wirrway served in combat with the RAAF in the dark days of 1941 and 1942. Including when 8 Wirraways took on 100 Japanese aircraft over Rabaul, and another occasion when a 4 Sqn Wirraway shot down a Zero. Served in large numbers as communications and training aircraft.

CAC Wackett Trainer : The companies first in house design to satisfy an RAAF requirement for a low wing monoplane trainer. The aircraft served in training squadrons of the RAAF.

CAC Boomerang : The Boomerang was produced when Australia was facing a rapidly encroaching Japanese Empire and the situation where supplies from the UK and the USA were being cut off. CAC created the Boomerang from ready made patterns of the Wirraway in the incredibly short time 13 weeks. As the allies in the pacific consolidated the South pacific area, supply shortages werent as string as the Boomerang was used as an Army reconn aircraft. The aircraft had superb manouvrability but lacked performance at altitude and was missing in speed. The original airframe of the Boomerang was not suitable for development and when Japan surrendered most were scrapped. The Boomerang is the only Australian designed and produced aircraft to serve in combat.

CAC Ca-15 Kangaroo : The Ca-15 was one of the most outstanding aircraft of the single prop engined monoplane interceptors, being the last of the genre to be prototyped. The aircraft was capable of 721 km/h and had a range of 4,075 km's. Powered by a 2,035 hp Rolls Royce Griffen the aircraft was unfortunately overtaken by the Jet Age and never got past the protoype stage.

CAC Ca-11 Woomera : The Woomera was designed and protoyped to satisfy the RAAF requirement for a medium bomber capable of dive bombing. The RAAF ordered 105 of the aircraft but these were cancelled when cheaper imports such as the B25 started arriving from the US. The Woomera included the unusual design of having remotely operated gun turrets in the engine nacelles.

CAC Winjeel : Aboriginal for "Young Eagle", the Winjeel was designed to replace the Tiger Moth and Wirraway in training duties. the aircraft proved impossible to get into a spin due to its extremely stable design and the aircraft tail surfaces had to be redesigned to make the aircraft more unstable. Designed in 1948, the Winjeel served with the RAAF until 1994.

CAC Sabre : The RAAF's first Jet fighter was the deHavilland Australia produced version of the Vampire, the second was the Gloster Meteor whcih was ordered for the RAAF during the Korean War due to a desperate need to replace the Mustangs the RAAF was oeprating there. The Meteor was outclassed by the Mig15 in combat and Australia licensed the Sabre to produce domestically as the front line fighter of the RAAF.

CAC added the more powerful Avon Jet to the aircraft and 2X30mm cannon as a result of the combat experience the USAAF in Korea had with the need for more powerful guns than the 50 cal's. The fuselage was lightened, widened, shortened and the intake was redesigned with a greater diameter, requiring 60% of the airframe to be redesigned. Too late for Korean service with the RAAF, the Sabre served with RAAF until 1965 when the remaining aircraft were sold to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Cam Riley, Australian Flying Corps, South Sea Republic