Forget the quintessentially Australian name, the Boomerang story more sums up the Australian can-do attitude that guided the nation through WWII. Dreamt up in response to an urgent need for a fighter aircraft, the type moved from approval to first flight in a little over 16 weeks, debuting in 1942. It’s a feat RAAF today rightly calls a “remarkable achievement”.
The breakneck turnaround – sans even a prototype – was achieved because the guts of the aircraft shared the same design DNA as the Wirraway trainer, already in production by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. In total, 249 Boomerangs were built between 1942 and 1945 and flown by Nos. 4, 5, 83, 84 and 85 Squadrons in a home defence role. That meant escorting shipping convoys and dangerous operations against the Japanese. It was also known for its low-level army co-operation work over the New Guinea jungles, which included marking targets for P-40 Kittyhawks and Corsairs and helping to provide protection for soldiers on the ground.
If you want to see this piece of Australian history for yourself, the RAAF Museum in Point Cook has its own. A46-30 was initially allocated to No. 2 Operational Training Unit at Mildura, Victoria before moving to No. 83 Squadron in April 1943. Aside from its proud service, it was also used in the film biography of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Smithy.