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Australia's CAC Wirraway (challenge) trainer

Photos

  • Commonwealth Wirraway trainer
  • Content Slide

Design

The CAC (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation) designed a similar plane to the North American NA-16-2K and called it the Wirraway, which is Aboriginal for challenge. The Wirraway added additional armament, strengthened structure for dive bombing, and under wing bomb racks.

American Design

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) knew that they couldn't completely rely on Great Britain to keep them supplied with aircraft so it was decided to start manufacturing their own models. In 1936 a commission went to the United States where they met with North American Aviation, Inc. and selected the NA-33. Two of these were shipped to Australia for testing and an order was placed for 40. These became the CA-1 Wirraway.

Engines

The CAC license built the Pratt & Whitney engines for the Wirraway.

Prototype

The first CA-1 flew on March 27, 1939.

Production

Production went until 1942, then it resumed in 1943. The final Wirraway was delivered in 1946.

  • CAC CA-1: 40
  • CAC CA-3: 60
  • CAC CA-5: 32
  • CAC CA-7: 100
  • CAC CA-8: 200
  • CAC CA-9: 188, 199
  • CAC CA-16: 135
  • Total: >750, 755
    • Manufacturer: Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation

Variants

  • CAC CA-1:
  • CAC CA-3:
  • CAC CA-5:
  • CAC CA-7:
  • CAC CA-8:
  • CAC CA-9:
  • CAC CA-16: Had modified wing to allow for dive bombing. The only crew was the pilot.

Usage

There were fifteen Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons equipped with the Wirraway.

Rabaul

Some Wirraways were used in the defense of Rabaul in early 1942.

Score One Zero

In December 1942 / December 26, 1942, near Gona, a No 4 Squadron Wirraway shot down a Zero.

After World War II

The RAAF used the Wirraway as a trainer until 1958.

Specifications

  CAC Wirraway
Type Trainer
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney/CAC R-1340-S1H1G Wasp
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 600
Propeller blades 3, 3 blade D.H. controllable pitch
Dimensions  
Span 43'
13.1 m, 13.11 m
Length 27' 10"
8.48 m
Height 8' 9"
2.66 m
Wing area 255.75 sq ft
23.75 sq m
Weight  
Empty 3,980 lb, 3,992 lb
1,807 kg, 1,811 kg
Loaded 5,575 lb, 6,353 lb
2,529 kg, 2,884 kg
Maximum loaded 6,595 lb
2,991 kg
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,524 m
220 mph
354 kph
Cruising speed 164 - 182 mph
264 - 293 kph
Climb 1,950'/minute
594 m/minute
Service ceiling 23,000'
7,010 m
Range 720 miles
1,158 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 0.303" MG
Rear cockpit 1: 0.303" MG
Bombs 500 lb
227 kg
  Commonwealth CA-3 Wirraway (A20)
Type Trainer
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 S1H1-G Wasp
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 600
Dimensions  
Span 43'
Length 27' 10"
Height 8' 9"
Weight  
Loaded 6,595 lb
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,524 m
220 mph
Service ceiling 23,000'
Range 720 miles
Armament 3: MG
Bombs 300 lb

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  3. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site