A20 CAC Wirraway formation from No 21 Squadron RAAF, based at Laverton, Victoria, during July 1941.

RAAF CAC Wirraway CAC Wirraway formation from No 21 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, based at Laverton, Victoria, during July

Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) Wirraway.Although the Wirraway (an Aboriginal word meaning "Challenger") was designated as the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) advanced trainer during World War Two, its usefulness as a makeshift frontline fighter was secured on 26 December 1942 when a converted example shot down a Japanese navy A6M 'Zero-Sen' fighter. Wirraways saw convoy duty from Darwin, in Malaya, New Britain and New Guinea until mid-1943.

Name comes from an Aboriginal word for "Challenger". One even challenged a Zero & won on December 26

RAAF CAC Wirraway with underwing bombs during WWII (Australian War Memorial) January 6th, 1942 the first air combat between Australia and Japan involved Wirraway’s intercepting Japanese seaplanes over New Britain, no aircraft were shot down in this incident. Two weeks later just 8 Wirraway’s had to be thrown into combat against more than 100 Japanese aircraft attacking Rabaul in New Guinea, sadly only 2 of the RAAF aircraft survived unscathed and none were able to shoot down an enemy.

Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation: Aussie WWII Battlers & Aviation Pioneers

RAAF CAC Wirraway with underwing bombs during WWII (Australian War Memorial) January 6th, 1942 the first air combat between Australia and Japan involved Wirraway’s intercepting Japanese seaplanes over New Britain, no aircraft were shot down in this incident. Two weeks later just 8 Wirraway’s had to be thrown into combat against more than 100 Japanese aircraft attacking Rabaul in New Guinea, sadly only 2 of the RAAF aircraft survived unscathed and none were able to shoot down an enemy.

RAAF CAC Wirraway formation circa 1944 (Photo Source: State Library of Queensland) The Wirraway was never intended to primarily be a combat aircraft but it was armed and in the early fighting in New Guinea in 1942, Australia had few fighters and bombers to combat the Japanese (most experienced crew were flying RAF provided combat aircraft in Europe and North Africa at that stage of the war), so the Wirraway and its crews had to bravely step into the void.

Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation: Aussie WWII Battlers & Aviation Pioneers

CAC Wirraway (serial number A20-103) at the Australian War Memorial. This aircraft flown by RAAF Pilot Officer John S. (Jack) Archer was the only known Wirraway to shoot down a Japanese aircraft in World War Two

Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation: Aussie WWII Battlers & Aviation Pioneers

CAC Wirraway (serial number at the Australian War Memorial. This aircraft flown by RAAF Pilot Officer John S. (Jack) Archer was the only known Wirraway to shoot down a Japanese aircraft in World War Two

Wirraway aircraft under construction at a CAC factory at Fishermen's Bend, Australia, in 1940

Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation: Aussie WWII Battlers & Aviation Pioneers

CAC Wirraway February 1940 - At the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Factory, employees move a partly constructed Wirraway to a more advanced position in the assembly line.

Members of No. 4 (Wirraway) Squadron, RAAF with the Wirraway (A20-103) aircraft that Pilot Officer John S (Jack) Archer was flying when he shot down a Japanese Zero aircraft. Joe Booker is pointing to a Japanese flag that was painted on the nose of the aircraft to commemorate shooting down the Zero.

A Brief History of the Royal Australian Air Force: World War Two – 1939 to 1945

Members of No. 4 (Wirraway) Squadron, RAAF with the Wirraway (A20-103) aircraft that Pilot Officer John S (Jack) Archer was flying when he shot down a Japanese Zero aircraft. Joe Booker is pointing to a Japanese flag that was painted on the nose of the aircraft to commemorate shooting down the Zero.

CAC Wirraway aircraft (left to right, code name GA-F and GA-B, serial no. A20-47) of No. 21 Squadron RAAF on a training flight over Singapore Island. The squadron is based at Sembawang airfield in ...

CAC Wirraway aircraft (left to right, code name GA-F and GA-B, serial no. 21 Squadron RAAF on a training flight over Singapore Island. The squadron is based at Sembawang airfield in .

Thumbnail picture of the CAC Wirraway

Thumbnail picture of the CAC Wirraway


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