The Commonwealth Wirraway 

Australia
Australia

side view front view under view

Believing that Australia should not be totally dependent upon imported aircraft an effort was made and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd. was established. Although the chief designer (Lawrence Wackett) was an experienced engineer, it was decided that the first design should not be built from scratch. One of the North American designs proved to be close enough to the requirements of the Australian doctrine of the moment, generating a general purpose aircraft. The Type NA-26 was adopted by CAC and modified to the Australian needs, after which North American gave it the NA-33 type designation.

CAC started producing it as the CA-1 Wirraway, which means "challenge" in the language of the aboriginals. The first prototype flew in March 1939, and deliveries started in June of the same year. The Wirraway replaced the Hawker Demon two-seater biplanes, and thus modernised the Royal Australian Air Force.

As it is: the Wirraway itself was a kind of in-between. The top and bottom of the fuselage had light alloy metal panels, the sides had fabric. Also was the basic construction of the fuselage made of steel-tube with stringers and light alloy frames.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Commonwealth Wirraway Mk I
Commonwealth Wirraway Mk I

 

Technical data on the Wirraway
Powerplant 1 × CAC (Pratt & Whitney) R-1340-S1H1-G Wasp radial, rated at 600 hp (447.29 kW) Role during war
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Light Bomber
  • Dive Bomber
  • Trainer
Length 27 ft 10 inch Height 8 ft 8.75 inch
Empty weight 3992 lb Operational weight 5575 lb typical,
6595 lb max
Wing Span 43 ft 0 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.23
Wing Area 255.7 sq ft Service ceiling 23000 ft
Maximum speed 220 mph at 5000 ft Cruising speed 182 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate 1,950 ft per min Range 720 miles max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.303 inch fixed forward-firing in upper nose
  • provision for 1 × 0.303 inch trainable rearward-firing in rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 1,000 lb of bombs on 4 underwing hardpoints, generally consisting of 2 or 4 × 250 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 2: pilot, observer/gunner, or pupil and instructor Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 27 March 1939 Operational Service June 1939 - 1959
Manufacturer Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd. Number produced 755 total
Metric system
Length 8.48 m Height 2.66 m
Empty weight 1811 kg Operational weight 2529 kg typical,
2991 kg max
Wing Span 13.11 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.23
Wing Area 23.75 m² Service ceiling 7010 m
Maximum speed 354 km/h at 1524 m Cruising speed 293 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate 594 m per min Range 1159 km max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 7.7 mm fixed forward-firing in upper nose
  • provision for 1 × 7.7 mm trainable rearward-firing in rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 454 kg of bombs on 4 underwing hardpoints, generally consisting of 2 or 4 × 113 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Commonwealth Wirraway 
Commonwealth Wirraway Mk I Initial and only production model.
Number built: 755
No other versions -

Remarks:

The only good thing about the Wirraway is the fact that it replaced even more obsolete aircraft, and that it could fulfill the need for trainer

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00