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World War Two: CA-19 Boomerang

The Boomerang is often referred to as Australia's 'panic fighter', its development having been triggered by the Japanese advance in the Pacific. The day after two Royal Navy battle ships were sunk by Japanese aircraft off the coast of Malaysia in early 1942, the decision was made to produce an indigeonus fighter at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation facility at Fisherman's Bend, Melbourne. Just 16 weeks and three days later, the first Boomerang took to the air. This remarkable feat was achieved by using as many existing assemblies as possible.


CA-19The Pratt & Whitney R.1830 twin Wasp radial engine (as used in the DC-3) was already in production in Australia for the local production of Bristol Beaufort bombers. The Wirraway advanced trainer, effectively a license built and modified variant of the North American NA-16, was already under series production by C.A.C., and from this aircraft, the Boomerang borrowed the centre-section, undercarriage, tail group and much of the cockpit equipment. The plywood and aluminium covered steel tube fuselage was entirely new.

A total of 250 Boomerangs eventually left the plant and many of them found their way to New Guinea where the war was being fought by combined allied forces against the Japanese. The Boomerang was a delight to fly and had an outstanding climb performance as well as exceptional agility, but as an interceptor fighter it left much to be desired, particularly at higher altitudes. As a result the aircraft was largely employed in army co-operation duties, and as a ground attack machine it excelled.

CA-19Many RNZAF Corsair pilots became familiar with the Boomerang as it was used to lead the attacking Corsair force to specific targets, then mark those targets with smoke flares at low level, thus allowing the Corsairs to bring home the attack with great accuracy. In this role the Boomerangs became known affectionately as 'Smoky Joes'!

Owned by Lynette Zuccoli of Toowoomba, Queensland, the rare CA-19 Boomerang (VH-BOM) was shipped to New Zealand for Classic Fighters 2001. This is the only original, airworthy example from the 250 aircraft that were built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.

"Milingimbi Ghost", as this aircraft is known, refers to the wartime Royal Australian Air Force base at Milingimbi Island in the Northern Territory of Australia.



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