Airfix 1/72 CA-13 Boomerang
Review by Michael Johnson
The only aircraft that was completely designed
built and operated exclusively in Australia during WWII. The Boomerang
was not an exceptional fighter; it spent most of its career as a ground
support aircraft and a feared one at that. Boomerangs were the only plane
available to the RAAF at the beginning of the war, but were quickly replaced
with Spitfires from Britain and the P-40 from the USA.
After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour,
Australia found itself ill prepared. The only real fighters the RAAF
had were a small number of the Brewster Buffalo, which were later found
to be no match for the Japanese Zero fighter when flown by the RAF
defending Singapore. To overcome this shortfall and the possibility
that Australia could not get fighters from overseas, design work was
started on the CA-12 Boomerang. Using parts from the CA Wirraway, the
Boomerang was designed and built in only three months. 105 airframes
were built during 1942-3.
In 1943 a second batch of 95 improved
CA-13 Boomerang mk II's were built. The most obvious change was the
addition of two 20mm cannon. Later versions like the CA-14 had a turbocharger
to improve high altitude performance and the CA-14A had square tail
feathers. Neither were produced in quantity because of the availability
of the Spitfire mk VIII. The final version was the CA-19 Boomerang
mk II with minor modifications over the CA-13. Only 49 CA-19's were
I picked this elderly Airfix
kit up at a local hobby shop sale for under $10 and after seeing the
terrible decals, promptly picked up Red Roo’s most excellent
sheet depicting a white tailed Boomerang. In the end I never used this
particular sheet. More on that later!
The plastic parts are moulded in light
grey plastic and are typical Airfix quality. Both fuselage halves,
tail planes and the three wing parts are festooned in raised detail
and rivets, which was going to make replacement of the raised detail
difficult. There were numerous sink holes present on all the larger
parts which would need to be filled.
The cockpit canopy and rear armoured glass
were packaged loose as per Airfix standard practice.
The instructions were typical Airfix,
simple and well illustrated, but the decals were terrible with images
being vague, ill defined and in the main out of register. Aftermarket
is a must here.
Construction (as always) started in the
cockpit. Research indicated that the cockpit of the Boomerang was a
tubular steel frame with no floor as such but as per the age of the
kit only a rather simplified seat was supplied along with a pilot that
looked a refugee out of a Frog kit. I decided to go the cheat’s
way out and painted the cockpit interior flat black to hide the vast
emptiness. I painted the seat Pollyscale Interior Green and added Tamiya
tape harnesses, just to busy the seat up a little more.
The engine moulding included the engine
firewall and when cleaned up and painted looked quite convincing for
the scale. I painted the engine assembly flat black and dry brushed
various shades of Testors metallisers. I sprayed the cowling interior
with Tamiya AS-12 Natural Metal.
I then cemented the fuselage halves together,
which went together very well, with some filling, and sanding required
to smooth over the joins. The cowling was a particularly bad fit requiring
a good deal of filling and sanding to smooth out the join to the fuselage.
The lower wing half was offered up to
the completed fuselage and a moderate amount of filler was needed to
smooth over the joins fore and aft. Fit of the wing at the wing roots
was average with a fair amount of remedial work needed to remove small
steps and problems along each side. One area was so bad; I had to add
plasticard shims to plug the gap. At the same time I added the horizontal
stabilisers, cleaning up the resultant joints as well. This was a frustrating
time as it seemed to take for ever to get all looking ready for primer.
A subsequent primer coat revealed several flaws, particularly around
the 20mm cannon roots, which were cleaned up quickly.
The undercarriage legs cleaned up well
and look adequate when painted and washed. The undercarriage legs were
painted Tamiya AS12 Natural Metal and Citadel Mithril Silver. Tyres
were painted Aeromaster Tyre Black and weathered with a little Citadel
The undercarriage bay was painted with
Pollyscale Interior Green and when cured, washed with a burnt umber
sludge wash weathering mix, and then dry brushed with Interior Green
lightened with a little white.
I then carefully cut the transparencies
from the sprues, cleaned them up and attached them to the fuselage.
Small amounts of PVA glue watered down with a little water were used
to fill any glaring gaps with excess glue wiped away with a mark one
moistened finger. The rear panels were then cleaned up and added to
the fuselage. This proved to very frustrating with minute amounts of
model glue added by toothpick to “tack” the transparency
in place with gaps carefully filled using PVA glue. All transparencies
were then masked with interior framing pre-painted in interior green.
Now the kit was ready for painting.
Kit decal options are provided
for three aircraft – two, overall foliage green and one disruptive green/brown/sky
blue. Although I had a new Red Roo decal sheet in my decal locker,
I opted for “Phooey” which was included on the kit sheet.
However, as mentioned earlier, the Airfix decals were only worth binning.
So where could I source “Phooey”
from? A quick Google search revealed that Esci released a Boomerang sheet
many years ago and another question on ARC resulted in a sheet arriving
at my doorstep a couple of weeks later. Thanks Hal!
Both the Esci and the Airfix instructions
indicated that “Phooey” was Foliage Green with sky undersides.
Yet another question on the Aussie Modellers Forum linked me to a profile
done by Noel Barnes indicating that “Phooey” was actually
overall Foliage Green.
Here is the description as provided with
“CA-13 Boomerang, QE-A
- "Phooey" of No 4 Squadron, RAAF. Flown by Flight Officer
Ian Pedersen, Labaun, North Borneo, 1945. The aircraft made a forced
landing at the Awar airstrip, Hansa Bay, New Guinea in February of
1945. It eventually crash landed on the 29th of July 1945.”
This is the profile I based my Boomerang
on and as such an overall coat of Pollyscale Foliage Green was applied.
Many thanks to Noel for contacting me and pointing me in the right
At this stage I also sprayed the spinner
cover green as well.
Once all the paint had cured, I applied
several coats of Johnsons Future with a wide flat brush, kept especially
for this purpose, to seal everything in and preparing the surface for
I then added the “hedgehog”
exhaust, which had been cleaned up and pre-painted Modelmaster Burnt
Iron into the exhaust recess on the starboard fuselage side.
Now the fun began. Pre-warned is pre-prepared!
I brush painted Microscale Decal Film on
the Esci decals to prevent shattering.
Decals were soaked in very hot water
whereby they promptly curled. I brush painted a puddle of Future onto
the decal final location. The decal was placed and excess Future wicked
away with a tissue.
Each decal was massaged with a cotton
bud into conforming to the model surface carefully and with lashings
of Future. After a while each decals annoying necessity to curl was
overcome. Future was brushed over the top to lock down the decal.
After drying overnight an application
of decal sol was used to snuggle each decal down further. When dry
all looked great with only a little silvering corrected by careful
brushwork. In contrast, the Aussie Decals black dots I used to represent
the machine gun wing openings and the Aeromaster solid silver decal
stock used for the wing landing lights performed flawlessly with no
decal sol needed. (The landing lights were circles punched out by a
sharpened 3mm dia brass tube).
Total time for 18 decals was around 8
My favourite part of building a model
kit would have to be weathering! I then used a raw umber Vallejo acrylic
sludge wash to enhance the recessed lines defining the control surfaces
and cowling gills.
As these aircraft served in the hot tropical
sun, I “bleached” the high points of the upper surface
paintwork with a lightened shade of the overall green. I the dry brushed
Humbrol matt aluminium over the “wear” areas of the fuselage
side under the cockpit and the wing roots.
Once again the model was put aside to
cure and finally sprayed with Aeromaster flat, to give a matt appearance.
The undercarriage attachment was essentially
trouble free, although I needed to use a 5mm length of brass tubing
to install the tail wheel into the oversized hole under the tail. Finally
I added the assembled propeller and the Pitot tube.
Careful applications of powdered pastel
around the engine exhaust and gun barrels were then applied. I then
lightened various panel lines to add a degree of sun bleaching. All
masking was then removed and my Boomerang was complete!!
Well, I happen to like this stubby little
Aussie aircraft! BUT the frustration and angst generated whilst constructing
it almost outweighed my liking of the Boomerang.
Unfortunately the Airfix release is the
only game in town if you want a 1:72 Boomerang for your display shelf.
This is changing soon though, with Special Hobby supposedly releasing
a new Boomerang kit this year.
I would recommend this kit to any experienced
modeller mainly due to its age. That said and done, a junior modeller
could still get a great result straight OOB. There is also an alternative
scheme available from Red Roo which is a massive improvement over the
poorly printed kit decals. I chose to use very old Esci decals, which
needed a great deal of work to perform well.
World Aircraft Files
Mr Noel barnes
Restored 'original' Boomerang Cockpit of "Suzy-Q" -
Temora Aviation Museum (Feb. 2005)
History alive ! - These three gentlemen
all served in the RAAF during WW II. Each man has his own story to
My friend Earl is in the middle (blue hat) and used to fly Lancaster
Bombers from England. He was also a RAAF Flying Instructor at EFTS Uranquinty
- instructing upon DH-82 Tiger Moths and CAC Wirraways.
The gentleman on the right flew P-40's
(Kittyhawks) from New Guinea and the gent on the left was an engine
fitter on Kittyhawks.
All three men met by matter of pure co-incidence
at Temora Aviation Museum in February, 2005. The stories they told
and reminisced upon all day was nothing short of amazing !
They all loathed the "Boomer"
during the war, but fell in love with her again at Temora.
Discussing tactics and the finer points of combat flying
"May we meet again 'ole Cobber !"
End of the day - the three airmen shake hands and vow to meet again one
day - soon !
... and they were men.
The conversation between these gentlemen (and they were)
continued in the car park for about two hours after the museum closed
- I only wish I could reprint here, the conversations in full - Let's
just say, the 'discussion' revolved around the current state of our
great Nation, Australia and certain influencing effects upon it over
the last 30 years or so - I'll leave it up to your imagination !!
Some great war stories were relayed too - just incredible