Brisbane’s Mark Walker is a long standing aviation enthusiast, having had an interest in preserving and restoring aircraft for many years. Early in 2001, Mark pondered upon which aircraft he should restore. He immediately thought of the Supermarine Spitfire which was an iconic aircraft, served with the RAAF and was very desirable. Reality arrived with a thud!
When he costed the acquisition and restoration of a Spitfire and upon discussion with friends a decision was made to rebuild to fly a CAC Boomerang instead. With that decision the project started with a mission to locate parts from all over Australia. By mid-2004, it was well on the way to being a Warbird restoration project and after securing a cockpit and rear frame from Nick Knight in 2005 it progressed quickly. Unfortunately this aircraft had no identity that could be easily determined.
In 2009, it was decided to find another CAC Boomerang restoration project that was in better shape and carried an identity. However, it was decided to retain the first project which will now be completed as a static aircraft. After consulting Boomerang restorer and expert Matt Denning A46-158 was acquired from Matt. This included a host of parts and assemblies in what can be best described as a “kit of parts” to enable a CAC Boomerang to be assembled and restored.
It was not however a complete Boomerang by any stretch of the imagination. Many ‘hard to get’ parts were not included and have had to be located. From the beginning Ralph Cusack advised Mark to “gather all the parts you need while you can and begin restoring it later”. Mark is now at a stage where he has acquired a majority of what he needs and can consider the next phase in his project.
Restoring CAC Boomerang A46-158
At present the Boomerang is stored in Marks garage in Brisbane Queensland. However Mark will be moving the aircraft to more appropriate accommodation to begin its flying restoration. This process is likely to take some years given the time and resource constraints. However, it is a real eye opener to wander about the garage and see the vast wealth of rare and thought to be extinct parts that have been accumulated; from instruments and panels through to center sections and landing gear.
The Boomerang restoration community is close knit and very interactive and Mark already has a productive relationship with the network of restorers across Australia. He is particularly lucky to have close access to experts such as Greg Batts and Ralph Cusack, from who he is able to obtain vital advice, parts and knowledge. Trading as always occurs and Mark has been able to swap surplus components for new build parts and rare ‘hard to get’ components. While the CAC Boomerang design is based upon the CAC Wirraway, fewer than 2% of parts are identical and with a production run of just 250 aircraft Boomerang parts are very hard to find.
As with all CAC Boomerang restoration projects’ locating serviceable wings is a problem. New build wings are required as none in any serviceable condition survived the scrappers, post war. At present there are two different sources of new build wings being constructed as part of other restorations, both in NSW. Mark will consider the best source and these will be constructed as part of his rebuild. Not a cheap item!
Marks original project, the unidentified Boomerang frame is solid enough but unsuitable for restoration to airworthy condition. Mark proposes to restore this Boomerang to original service condition as a static museum standard aircraft. He will utilize any and all of his non airworthy parts from the airworthy restoration of A46-158. There are a few tricks in the CAC Boomerang restorers’ arsenal to identify a frame and Mark will be trying hard to work out the identity of his mystery aircraft to give the finished Boomerang its correct identity and provenance.
CAC Boomerang A46-158 history
A46-158 is a CAC Boomerang built in 1943 delivered in late 1943. It was a CA-13 model posted to 83 Squadron (coded as MH T) which formed at Strathpine (north of Brisbane) Queensland, in the role of coastal reconnaissance to detect enemy submarines or surface ships. Early in 1944, 83 Squadron was moved north to Gove (Nhulunbuy) in the Northern Territory but by October the Squadron was moved down to Camden NSW where they stayed until the end of the war. A46-158 was sent to Aircraft Depot No 6 (Oakey) just North West of Toowoomba Qld and by 1948 was struck off charge. A46-158 was recovered by Les Arthur from an unknown property around the Toowoomba region. The aircraft was then obtained by Arthur Griffiths then Matt Denning.
Mark needs some assistance to acquire the more difficult parts to complete this project. If you can help please contact Mark via his website.
A list of the most wanted parts include: cockpit canopy, propeller and hub, seat armour plate, 70 gallon fuel gauge, identification friend or Foe (IFF), exhaust collector ring, 70 gallon fuselage tank.
Apart from restoring CAC Boomerangs Mark has been” hands on” for quite some time and regularly assists in Ralph Cusack’s DAP Beaufort restoration at Caboolture, when time permits.
He’s a busy man indeed!
© John Parker 2013