Warbirds Online presents the latest update on the CAC Boomerang restorations being undertaken by Greg Batts of Combat Aircraft Constructions at Archerfield, Queensland. We last reported on progress on the Boomerangs in August 2016 and since then there is much progess to reveal.
On Saturday 25th of March 2017 Greg held an open day at his new workshop facility at Archerfield, Qld. This was a particularly significant day for the function as it marked the 74th anniversary of the first flight of Greg’s own aircraft CAC Boomerang CA-12 A46-54. A good crowd of Boomerang enthusiasts attended on the day to inspect the work being done on the 4 resident Boomerangs and other components.
Most significant is the progress being made on A46-54. A recent much awaited milestone was the fitting of the aircrafts Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90 Twin Wasp 14 Cylinder radial engine of 1,200 hp (895 kW). The work to fit the engine was not an easy task and had been delayed by the reconditioning of various ancillary components such as the generator and starter motor. The ancillaries are mainly located at the rear of the engine and cannot be fitted to the engine once it is in position on the aircraft. The actual fitting of the engine took 3 fellows a marathon 13 hours and many skinned knuckles. It involves lining up the 8 engine bearers to the engine mount studs, whilst aligning 14 exhaust tubes to each cylinder, trying not to damage anything in the process.
Now the engine has been refitted to A46-54 work can proceed on the connections from the engine to firewall , oil tank and center section. Final detail fit out of items in the cockpit and fuselage will take place as all this happens including the finalizing of the electrics. The wooden fuselage shell will be refitted once the full inspection of the aircraft is carried out, followed by a full paint scheme.
Also evident on the open day was the arrival back from storage of A46-54’s wings also ready for refitting – these components have been fully restored and are ready for fitting. The wings may be trial fitted as other work proceeds on the aircraft for trialing of cables and flaps, and fabric work on ailerons, but will then be removed again so that A46-54 can be transported to Caboolture airfield for final assembly, testing and first flight.
As Greg said “I have no firm date for a first flight due to so many small problems showing up, but I am keeping the headache tablet companies in business”. If progress is anything to go by the Boomerang should fly in time for its 75th Anniversary of flight.
Restoration News – Other Boomerangs at the facility
At the time of our last visit CAC Boomerang A46-249 a CA-19, the last Boomerang constructed,was being worked on for The Old Aeroplane Company of Tyabb Victoria. Work on the fuselage of this aircraft concluded in August last and the fuselage was returned to its base for work to continue towards a flying restoration.
As one Boomerang leaves another takes its place on the workshop floor. CAC CA-12 A46-55, the next aircraft off the production line after Greg’s own aircraft has been in storage for some time and has now emerged from its container to have work commence on its restoration. This particular aircraft is interesting in that it was also brought on charge with the RAAF on the same date as Greg’s aircraft – 25th March 1943. A46-55 is one of the most complete Boomerang projects left unrestored and is thus an excellent basis for a flying restoration in the future. It will be very exciting to see this aircraft as it progresses.
CAC CA-12 Boomerang CAC Boomerang A46-77 has also progressed extremely well since our last visit with much of the structural work on the fuselage now completed and all of the difficult detail metalwork being finalized around the forward end of the fuselage and cockpit. The work on the stainless steel firewall in particular is spectacular – the sliding canopy overhaul is underway. Work will soon turn to the tail assembly followed by the detail fit out of the fuselage. The wing center section overhaul is due to be started at the end of June and continue right through to being ready for fuselage attachment – still a way to go but progressing rapidly.
Last of the 4 Boomerangs on the workshop floor on the day of our visit is CA-12 A46-92 for Rod Provan. With work centered on structural work on the fuselage and correct fit of the completed lower rear monocoque pan. Work is expected to accelerate on this aircraft now that a lot of the work in organizing the workshop is complete. It is expected that the center section for this aircraft will follow that of CAC Boomerang A46-77 into the jig.
Much of the work required to fit out and organize the new workshop at Archerfield was also evident on the day of our visit with previously stored items now stacked in racks and various jigs for rudders and elevators now located for rebuild runs of these components to take place.
Obviously the major activity of interest in the near future at Combat Aircraft Constructions will be the completion and first flight of A46-54. However, with each visit the work progressing on the other aircraft is obvious and the relative states of completion of all 4 aircraft from the nearly finished A46-54 through to the only just commenced A46-55 providing an excellent insight into the process of wreck to flight of a Boomerang restoration. The evolution of each aircraft’s progress is fascinating to watch over time and the rate of progress is amazing.
Also evident in the workshop were the huge holdings of other Boomerang components Greg has collected over the years which may well find their way into future restoration projects. These included several fuselage frames, cockpit canopies etc. and there’s more stored elsewhere!
We will report again as work progresses on this very impressive workshop dedicated to Australia’s own indigenous fighter.
Warbirds online thanks Greg Batts and the team at Combat Aircraft Constructions for allowing us access to this unique facility.
© John Parker 2017