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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.1 The Wirraway added additional armament, strengthened structure for dive bombing, and under wing bomb racks.1,2

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.2 In 1936 a commission went to the United States where they met with North American Aviation, Inc. and selected the NA-33.2 Two of these were shipped to Australia for testing and an order was placed for 40.2 These became the CA-1 Wirraway.2

Engines

The CAC license built the Pratt & Whitney engines for the Wirraway.1,3

Prototype

The first CA-1 flew on March 27, 1939.1,2

Production

Production went until 1942, then it resumed in 1943.1 The final Wirraway was delivered in 1946.1

  • CAC CA-1: 401,2
  • CAC CA-3: 601,2
  • CAC CA-5: 321,2
  • CAC CA-7: 1001,2
  • CAC CA-8: 2001,2
  • CAC CA-9: 1881, 1992
  • CAC CA-16: 1351,2
  • Total: >7502, 7551
    • Manufacturer: Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation2

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.1 The only crew was the pilot.2

Usage

There were fifteen Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons equipped with the Wirraway.1

Rabaul

Some Wirraways were used in the defense of Rabaul in early 1942.1

Score One Zero

In December 1942 / December 26, 19422, near Gona, a No 4 Squadron Wirraway shot down a Zero.1

After World War II

The RAAF used the Wirraway as a trainer until 1958.1

Specifications

  CAC Wirraway
Type Trainer1,3
Crew 21,3
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney/CAC R-1340-S1H1G Wasp1,3
Cylinders Radial 91,3
Cooling Air3
HP 6001,3
Propeller blades 31, 3 blade D.H. controllable pitch3
Dimensions  
Span 43'1,3
13.1 m1, 13.11 m3
Length 27' 10"1
8.48 m1
Height 8' 9"1
2.66 m1
Wing area 255.75 sq ft3
23.75 sq m3
Weight  
Empty 3,980 lb3, 3,992 lb1
1,807 kg3, 1,811 kg1
Loaded 5,575 lb1, 6,353 lb3
2,529 kg1, 2,884 kg3
Maximum loaded 6,595 lb1
2,991 kg1
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,524 m
220 mph1
354 kph1
Cruising speed 164 - 182 mph1
264 - 293 kph1
Climb 1,950'/minute1
594 m/minute1
Service ceiling 23,000'1
7,010 m1
Range 720 miles1
1,158 km1
Armament  
Nose 2: 0.303" MG1
Rear cockpit 1: 0.303" MG1
Bombs 500 lb1
227 kg1
  Commonwealth CA-3 Wirraway (A20)2
Type Trainer2
Crew 22
Engine (Type) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 S1H1-G Wasp2
Cylinders Radial 92
Cooling Air2
HP 6002
Dimensions  
Span 43'2
Length 27' 10"2
Height 8' 9"2
Weight  
Loaded 6,595 lb2
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,524 m
220 mph2
Service ceiling 23,000'2
Range 720 miles2
Armament 3: MG2
Bombs 300 lb2

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