CAC Boomerang A46-30
When Japan entered World War II in December 1941, the RAAF did not possess a single fighter aircraft for home defence and, consequently, a decision was hurriedly made to produce a local fighter as a stop-gap measure to meet the threatened Japanese onslaught. Fortunately, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) already had plans in hand for an interceptor aircraft, and this promising design was ordered into production on 2 February 1942.
Named the Boomerang, the new fighter was designed as an interceptor with a high rate of climb and good manoeuvrability. To obtain the best performance, the aircraft was fitted with the most powerful engine in Australia - the 1,200 hp Twin Wasp which was in production for the Australian-built Beaufort bomber. To speed production, many Wirraway aircraft components were incorporated into the design, and production proceeded so well that the first aircraft progressed from drawing board to first flight in only 14 weeks. As production progressed, many improvements and modifications were incorporated into three major versions of the type, with a total production of 250 aircraft between 1942 and 1945.
With the arrival of more advanced fighters from the USA and UK, the Boomerang was soon relegated to the army co-operation role with Nos 4 and 5 Squadrons. It was in this role that the Boomerang was most accomplished, and established a reputation for effective strikes throughout New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Borneo. Following World War II, the Boomerang was retired from RAAF Service, and only a handful of the type have survived around Australia.
Received by No 1 Aircraft Depot in February 1943, A46-30 was initially allocated to No 2 Operational Training Unit at Mildura, Victoria before transfer to No 83 Squadron in April 1943. By the end of that month, the aircraft had moved again, this time to No 85 Squadron, where it remained until accident damage in July 1944 required repair by No 17 Repair and Salvage Unit. Allocated back to No 85 Squadron in September 1944, by January 1945 the aircraft was at No 4 Aircraft Depot for modifications and repairs. In March 1945, the aircraft returned to No 83 Squadron, where it served until the end of World War II. In September 1945, A46-30 was allocated to RAAF Base Richmond for use in the film biography of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Smithy, where it wore the identity of Lockheed Altair, Lady Southern Cross.
Finishing these duties in December 1945, the aircraft was soon placed into storage as surplus, and was issued to the Australian Air League, Pitt Street Sydney, at no cost in August 1946. During this period, the aircraft fell into disrepair, and suffered at the hands of vandals. By 1964, the Commanding Officer of RAAF Base Williamtown had arranged for the aircraft to return to RAAF hands, and the aircraft was handed over to No 481 Maintenance Squadron for restoration. In 1966, the aircraft returned to display, sporting an inaccurate overall silver paint scheme. After refinishing in camouflage colours, the aircraft later served as the gate guard at Williamtown, before a cosmetic restoration for display at CAC in 1977. In 1983, A46-30 was placed on loan to the Australian War Memorial, before relocation to the RAAF Museum in the early 1990s.