SPECIAL HOBBY


SH48074 1/48 CAC-12 BOOMERANG
EARLY VERSION


Review by David Harvey


Introduction

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 already had plans in hand for an interceptor aircraft, and this promising design was ordered into production on February 2 1942.  Thus, Australia's first single-seat fighter came from an organisation headed by Lawrence Wackett, who was also responsible for the country's first indigenous fighter, the two-seat Wackett Warrigal Mk II of 1930.

Named the Boomerang, the new fighter was designed as an interceptor with a high rate of climb and good maneuverability. 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 DAP Bristol Beaufort. Airframe construction was accelerated by incorporating many Wirraway components, and production proceeded so well that the first aircraft progressed from drawing board to test flight in less than four months. Test pilot Ken Frewin flew A46-1 on May 29 1942, and subsequent tests revealed that the Boomerang had a lively performance, good handling qualities, and was an effective gun-platform for its cannons and machine-guns. As production progressed, many improvements and modifications were incorporated, and the various standard versions were grouped under three CAC designations: CA-12, CA-13 and CA-19. In addition, a high performance prototype, the CA-14 was built with a turbo-supercharger. 

This same aircraft was later streamlined and fitted with a square-cut tail assembly and became the CA-14A. Altogether, 250 Boomerangs were built and the various versions included 105 CA-12s, (A46-1/105), 95 CA-13s (A46-106/200), 49 CA-19s (A46-201/249), whilst the sole CA-14/CA-14A was numbered in the prototype range as A46-1001.

The RAAF accepted the first Boomerang, A46-1, on July 15 1942, and the last aircraft, A46-249 was delivered on February 1 1945. Initial pilot conversion was carried out with No 2 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Mildura, and these pilots formed the first operational units, No's 83, 84 and 85 Sqns. 

The first enemy contact was made on May 16 1943, when Boomerangs from No 84 Sqn intercepted and drove off three Betty bombers. For many months, the Boomerangs successfully carried out many similar sorties until, eventually, they were replaced by Kittyhawks and Spitfires. Relegated to the army co-operation role with No's 4 and 5 Sqn the Boomerangs soon established a high reputation for effective strikes throughout New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Borneo; particularly so in co-ordinated operations with RNZAF Corsairs.

The operational effectiveness of the Boomerang was due largely to the extensive evaluation program carried out by No 1 APU under Sqn Ldr J.H. Harper. In particular, test flying on the supercharged CA-14A, A46-1001 developed this version into an effective high altitude interceptor. Also, it is interesting to record that a Boomerang at No 1 APU was modified to take two seats; the second position was placed inside the fuselage behind the pilot and was used by an observer to record instrument and performance data.

TECHNICAL DATA:
(CAC CA-12 Boomerang)

DESCRIPTION: Single-seat interceptor and ground attack fighter. Metal and wood construction.

POWER PLANT: One 1,200 hp CAC licence built Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp R1830.

DIMENSIONS: Span, 36 ft; length, 26 ft 9 ins; height, 9 ft. 7 ins.

WEIGHTS: Empty, 5,373 lb; loaded 7,699 lb.

PERFORMANCE: Max speed, 305 mph at 15,000 ft. Initial rate of climb, 2,940 ft/min. Service ceiling 29,000 ft.

ARMAMENT: Two 20 mm Hispano or CAC manufactured cannons. Four 0.303 Browning machine-guns. Bombs could be substituted when the large drop tank was not carried.

*Information used with permission from the Digger History website.

 

This kit is the first new kit in 1/48 of the Boomerang in some years and Special Hobby is to be commended for producing it. The research for the kit was assisted by Australia's own Richard Hourigan who is credited on the instruction sheet. For this review I will only comment on the kit rather than touch on the accuracy of it as I have only limited knowledge on the aircraft differences and construction. But from what I have heard from some gents that are more knowledgeable than I, the kit is not too bad in accuracy, but we shall wait and see for the final word on that issue.

The instructions and decals

The instructions are ten pages of A5 size broken down into the usual history on page one followed by 24 steps in construction. unlike previous instructions from Special Hobby, these instructions give a good indication of where parts go during construction. Building this kit will show how well these placements actually are. Surprisingly though, the first twelve steps are construction of the cockpit!

The decals cover the following aircraft:

  • CA-12 A46-52 MH*E, 83 SQN RAAF, Camden NSW, Aug 1945. Foilage Green/Sky Blue.
  • CA-12 A46-95 ZA*O, 8 CU RAAF, New Guinea Dec 1945. Foilage Green/Earth Brown/Sky Blue.
  • CA-12 A46-93 QE*S , 4 SQN RAAF, New Guinea July 1943. Foilage Green/Earth Brown/Sky Blue.
  • CA-12 A46-62 R* 'Sleepytime Girl ', 84 SQN RAAF, Perth WA, April 1943. Foilage Green/Earth Brown/Sky Blue.

The decals come separately wrapped in their own re-sealable plastic bag with the PE. Apart from the letters and roundels you also receive an extensive array of stencils for the aircraft. An odd omission though is that whilst you receive all of these stencils you don't receive any guide as to where to put them or on what aircraft they go. Red Roo has a set of Stencil decals in 1/48 and 1/32 that could be used to give you an indication of where they should go but you would have to source the instructions from someone or buy the set. Other than that the decals are well printed and appear to match the design of the markings on the real aircraft as per pictures in the Stewart Wilson book 'Wirraway, Boomerang and CA-15 in Australian Service' and the Australian War Memorial collections database.

# Late addition. After placing up this review I received a scan of the stencil location sheet from a helpful contributor. This was taken from a kit sourced from overseas as the kit he sourced rom Australia also didn't have it. The image is below.


The kit

The kit consists of four grey plastic sprues, one clear sprue, one photo etch and a bag containing fifteen pieces of yellowish resin. The plastic is very glossy and in some places could use a scrub down with very fine 'wet and dry' to smooth it out due to the roughness of it. The parts are very nicely cast and have very fine panel lines when required. A change from the previous Special Hobby kits I have is that they now have locating tabs for the tails planes but still no locating pins for other parts.

As with a number of limited release kits this one requires clean up on the vast majority of the parts as there is flash and seam lines on them. For the most part this is not a problem but it could get a bit tedious on the engine parts due to the quantity of them as well as the cockpit framing. A point of concern is the sink marks on a few of the parts in the kit I have. The main one is on the blade of the propeller as shown below in picture 14, it's only shallow and easily filled but it travels up about half of the blade. The propeller also requires considerable gentle clean up as the flash runs on both sides of each blade. Another point of concern is the area of the lower wing that blends into the fuselage, on this example the rear area is bent right up and will require some heat treatment or persuasion to make it conform to the fuselage.

The resin covers the engine, cannon barrels, the seat, exhaust and a few other parts. The engine is very nicely cast and should come up well. To complete the engine you will need to supply either plastic rod or wire to do some of the detail work for the rods attached to the pistons (can't remember the name of them). One area that is a slight disappointment is the 'soft' detail on the cannon barrels, this may change with a bit of paint but they don't look correct to me compared to photographs. This 'soft' detail also affects the instrument panels.

The Photo etch is a nice restrained piece of work. Too often I have seen PE sets that are so complex and contain such small parts that the average modeler won't use the majority of it. This PE contains just enough of the parts that you need to do to provide good detail with a minimal number of the too small parts. There are only three parts that require bending and these should be easily done by the most ham fisted individual (like me). There are a few parts that are very small and could provide a problem eg. the three control levers are supposed to be placed next to each other on a flat surface with minimal contact area for the glue to work on. You are also provided with a PE seat belt that looks nice and should also go in the cockpit well.

The clear parts are clear and have well defined frames to enable masking prior to painting. You are provided with clear landing light covers but these are just placed over two holes in the wings so some work may be required to box in the area behind them.

 

Recommendation

As with all limited release kits I have run into over the years this kit will not just 'fall together'. There is considerable cleaning up of parts to do and I have no doubt that work will be required to make it all fit together - just like the Special Hobby Barracuda and Albacore to name a few. But I have no doubt that with care and an application of modeling skill this kit will come out quite nicely. But of course this will only come out when someone finishes their build of it.

To that end I recommend this kit for those that have a bit of experience with limited run kits due to the number of small problems brought up. Now we can only wait for the promised 1/48 Wirraway from Special Hobby.

Kit sourced from Victorian Hobby Centre courtesy of my wallet.

 

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