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History: Although the Wirraway
(an Aboriginal word meaning "Challenger") was designated as the Royal Australian
Air Forces (RAAF) advanced trainer during World War Two, its usefulness as a
makeshift frontline fighter was secured on 26 December 1942 when a converted example shot
down a Japanese navy A6M 'Zero-Sen' fighter. Wirraways saw convoy
duty from Darwin, in Malaya, New Britain and New Guinea until mid-1943.
Manufactured under license by the newly-formed Commonwealth
Aircraft Corporation (CAC), the Wirraway was a modified North American BC-1 with a
three-bladed propeller, two fixed .303-inch machine guns and a third in the rear cockpit,
and bomb rack for up to 500 pounds of ordnance.
A total of 755 Wirraways were delivered through 1946. As
purpose-built fighters came on line, the plane reverted back to its advanced trainer role
for both the Air Force and Navy. The trainer remained in service with the RAAF until 1959
and there are at least six Wirraways flying in Australia today.
Engine: One CAC-built 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-47 Wasp radial engine.
Weight: Empty 3,980 lbs., Max
Takeoff 6,595 lbs.
Wing Span: 43ft. 0in.
Length: 27ft. 10in.
Height: 8ft. 8.75in.
Range: 720 miles
forward-firing 7.7-mm (0.303-inch) Vickers Mk V machine guns, plus one more in rear
Up to 1,000
pounds of bombs
Number Built: 755
Number Still Airworthy: Six
Classic Wings magazine:
"Wirraway: The Survivors"
CNAPG Wirraway Page
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