Recently I visited Greg Batts workshop in suburban Brisbane Queensland, to get an update on the progress on his CAC Boomerang Warbird restoration projects. Quite a lot has changed in the 12 months since my last visit.
Greg’s Boomerang aircraft, CA-12, RAAF serial A46-54 had been trial assembled and has now been dismantled down to major sub-assemblies for completion of the detail work and then final assembly.
At the time of my visit, the fuselage was receiving the finishing touches on the full wiring fit out and it is a vision indeed. The quality of the work is first rate and as far as possible is finished in the look and materials utilized in the original aircrafts construction. It is amazing to see the attention to detail rendered in all of the reconstructed switch gear and various junction boxes right down to the placards and lettering of the panels.
Greg is lucky to have most original components to utilize as patterns and references as well as the largely complete aircraft, A46-55, in storage to act as a pattern reference airframe. A46-55 has been acquired by Greg from veteran Warbird restorer Ron Lee, co incidentally being the next Boomerang off the production line after Greg’s restoration project. A46-55 then is the ideal aircraft upon which to reference configuration issues for A46-54.
Once all of the wiring is complete on A46-54, work will soon commence on the final fit-out of the hydraulic system. Considerable work has already been done, including some pipe work and determination of other layout issues. Greg has an amazing knowledge of the Boomerang aircraft and has even gone to the trouble of sourcing and assembling original broken and discarded pipework into a complete hydraulic skeleton of the Boomerang. He has then fitted it to A46-54 to ensure the fit and routing of the complex hydraulic system prior to manufacturing the new components and fitting them in place of the template old pipes. This system will ensure accuracy and originality in the completed airframe.
Within A46-54, great care has been taken to ensure that as far as possible the original look and feel of the aircraft when it was manufactured has been preserved. This extends to items such as the original Oxygen bottle for example; although it is not to be utilized in operating condition it is being refitted and placed in its original place. New items such as the new battery and radio systems have also been concealed out of site or placed within redundant equipment in the airframe. The end result will be that an RAAF fitter of WW11 would see little out of place and feel quite at home when looking at the internals of Boomerang A46-54.
One particularly difficult job on a Boomerang restoration is the construction and fitting of the fuselage fuel tank just behind the pilot’s seat. This is a very tight and complex area of the fuselage. The tank sits upon a shelf which has to be fitted after the tank itself is inserted and the whole process is time consuming. Thankfully the tank is now in for the final time and awaits its plumbing into the aircrafts fuel system.
A46-54 has an engine and prop complete and awaiting fitment as well as all other major components including the tail, center section and wings. So it really is a matter now of methodically assembling all the parts of the puzzle back into a working aircraft. As with any aircraft nearing completion from such a complex process, it is nearly always a “a year or so” until it is complete and ready to fly again. However given its advanced state and the completion of most of her components it should not be long before A46-54 is again back in the air after an absence of 68 years!!
Another Boomerang aircraft which was in the workshop on our last visit A46-77, a CA-12 is under restoration including the major components of the fuselage, tail and center section, as well as the fuselage wooden shell and sitting in a movable stand, ready for fit out. So far, the fuselage frame, wooden cladding and center section are largely complete, with the tail assembly and firewall etc. still to be finalized. Once the fuselage is mated to the rebuilt wing center section it will then move on to her new owner at Mareeba, Qld where she will be completed to join the growing fleet of CAC Boomerangs in Australian skies.
At the time of our last visit Boomerang CA-12, A46-92, one of the last CA-12s built was also in Greg’s workshop undergoing fuselage frame and wooden shell cladding which is now restored and the remainder of the aircraft will be a longer term project.
Another occupant of Greg’s workshop on our last visit was Boomerang CA-12, A46-73 which again was the recipient of a fuselage refurbishment and the fitting of the fuselage shell cladding, along with sundry other metal work. This work is now complete and in August she was transported south to her owner Kent Lee of Coffs Harbour, NSW where ongoing work to airworthiness will take place.
In addition to the Boomerang aircraft mentioned above, Greg continues to do work for other Boomerang owners on various components. However his current workload is focused on the completion of A46-54 and the finalization of work on A46-77. Shortly, another prominent aircraft restorer’s Boomerang will arrive at the workshop to have some work done for yet another airworthy rebuild and this will swell the potentially airworthy numbers of Boomerang aircraft to between 7 and 10, including the two already flying.
A few short years ago who would have thought of the almost extinct breed of CAC Boomerang aircraft would multiply to such lofty numbers again. There is also the replica flying aircraft for sale in the USA and the Zuccoli A46-206, now a grounded exhibit at the Museum of Army Flying at Oakey, Queensland. Over 35 Boomerang aircraft remains/ identities are now known to exist. The majority are in restoration or in storage awaiting restoration – not a bad effort!
We will continue to visit Greg Batts and report on the return of his aircraft to flight, a reality getting nearer every day.
As to the future? Well there is always the question of the Boomerang A46-55 aircraft and perhaps another type?
Who knows, but we will keep you posted.
© John Parker 2013