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CA-19 Boomerang - The Australian Panic Fighter

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 indigenous 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.

VH-MHR is a restored Boomerang which is now part of the RAAF 100 Squadron Temora Historic Flight Collection at Temora in Australia. With its rugged construction and proven agility at low altitudes, it achieved some fame during World War Two with the Army support squadrons, particularly in the Pacific Islands.  Photo: © Anthony Portelli (Video Still, Supplied)

The 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.

The business end of 'Milingimbi Ghost' as she was seen during her one and only trip to New Zealand in 2001.  

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. Many Royal New Zealand Air Force 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 'Smokey Joes'!

Owned by Lynette Zuccoli of Toowoomba, Queensland, the rare CA-19 Boomerang (VH-BOM) was shipped to New Zealand for Classic Fighters 2001. At the time this was the only original, airworthy example of the type. "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.

Below you'll find the trailer for 'The Boomerang Story', a documentary produced in the mid-1990's by Nomad Productions in Australia. You can watch the full documentary by trying a Free 14-day trial at Historical Machines TV. The documentary features spectacular in-flight sequences, and chronicles the development of the aircraft from the start of World War 2 through its use during the war. Alan Bolton, one of the original designers, recalls the events which saw the Boomerang, the only fighter aircraft designed and made in Australia, come off the production line in an astonishing short time frame.

'The Boomerang Story' is a full length documentary on the Boomerang and chronicles the development of the aircraft from the start of World War 2 through its use during the war.

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