Build Number: 79
First Flight: 27 March 1939
Number Built: 755
Versions: 8 (CA-1 – CA-16)
Users: RAAF, RANFAA, RAF “Y” Sqn Malaya, USAAF 5th Air Force HQ
The name ‘Wirraway’ was derived from the Aboriginal word meaning “Challenge” and became the first aircraft manufactured by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. CAC was formed by a group of Australian industrial, manufacturing and shipping companies including BHP, Imperial Chemical Industries, GMH and Orient Steam and Nav Co.
A RAAF evaluation commission was sent overseas in 1936 to report on any aircraft suitable for production in Australia. Whilst offered mainly obsolete types in the UK the USA company North American Aviation suggested the NA-16-1A (fixed undercarriage) and NA-16-2K (retractable undercarriage), an aircraft that would become the precursor to the T.6. One example of each were shipped to Australia.
The retractable NA-16-2K was chosen for production with mods such as two forward firing machine guns and a strengthened structure for dive bombing. All models except the CA-16 were essentially the same but some latter variants were factory fitted with speed brakes for use in a dive.
In December 1941 the Wirraway was distributed to eight RAAF squadrons for Army Co-operation. The Wirraway became the RAAF’s advanced wartime trainer and was used post war in this role at Uranquinty and then Point Cook.
Power plant: 1 x 600hp Pratt and Whitney R.1340 nine cylinder radial
Wing Span: 43’ 0” (13.11m)
Length: 27’ 10” (8.48m)
Max Speed: 191 kts (350km/hr)
Range: 630nm (1,200km)
Armament: 2 x forward firing Vickers 0.303 machine guns
1 or 2 x 0.303 Lewis machine guns for Observer
2 x 250 or 500lb bombs or “Storepedos”
or 20 x 40lb light bombs under centre section.