Red Thunder - Artist DetailCAC Wirraway

CAC Wirraway

The CAC Wirraway (an Aboriginal word meaning "challenge") was a training and general purpose military aircraft manufactured in Australia by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) between 1939 and 1946. It was an Australian development of the North American NA-16 training aircraft. The Wirraway has been credited as being the foundation of Australian aircraft manufacturing.

During the Second World War, both Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) deployed a number of Wirraways into combat roles, where they served in a makeshift light bomber/ground attack capacity, striking against the advancing forces of the Empire of Japan. While the type had been primarily used as a trainer and general purpose aircraft, being present in small quantities within the majority of front-line squadrons for these purposes; the aircraft was often pressed into combat when required. Typically, fighter versions of the Wirraway were operated over theatres such as New Guinea to perform ground attack missions and other Army co-operation tasks over extended periods until more advanced aircraft had become available in sufficient quantities. On 12 December 1942, the Wirraway achieved its only shoot-down of an enemy aircraft, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, while flown by Pilot Officer J. S. Archer.

Following the end of the conflict, the Wirraway was operated for over a decade as a trainer by the RAAF, the newly formed RAN Fleet Air Arm, and the squadrons of the Citizen Air Force. During 1957, the last of the RAN's Wirraways was retired, having been replaced by the newer jet-powered de Havilland Vampire; as the CAC Winjeel came into squadron service, the RAAF phasing out its remaining fleet of Wirraways during the late 1950s. Officially, the last military flight to be performed by the type was conduted on 27 April 1959. Notably, the Wirraway had also functioned as the starting point for the design of a wartime "emergency fighter", which was also developed and manufactured by CAC, known as the Boomerang.

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