CAC Woomera

1st Flight 1941

The CAC Woomera, also known as the CAC CA-4 and CAC CA-11, was an Australian bomber aircraft that was designed and constructed by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation during World War II.

The order for the Woomera was cancelled before it became operational with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Faced with the crisis caused by the Japanese entry into the war in December 1941, the RAAF accepted the design even before testing was complete, and ordered 105 examples of the CAC bomber on 8 March 1942.

However, after the loss of the CA-4 prototype, the redesigned CA-11 did not fly until June 1944.

By the time production was due to commence, the dive-bombing concept had fallen into disfavour and the RAAF was filling the light bomber/reconnaissance/strike role with British-designed Bristol Beaufighters and US-made bombers, including the B-25 Mitchell, had also become available.

Consequently, the original Woomera order was reduced from 105 to 20. After the first CA-11 flew, the whole program was cancelled and the production capacity set aside for Woomeras at CAC was switched to P-51 Mustang fighters.

15 January 1943, the prototype CA-4, A23-1001, crashed on a test flight to assess powerplant performance and evaluate aerodynamic effects of a new fixed leading edge slat.

During the return to the CAC airfield at Fisherman’s Bend, the pilot, Squadron Leader Jim Harper, had detected a fuel leak in the port Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine.

As the problem worsened he attempted to shut down the engine, feathering the propeller; however, the actuation of the feathering switch caused an explosion and uncontrollable fire.

The three-man crew subsequently attempted evacuation at 1,000 feet (300 m), yet only Harper succeeded in parachuting free, while the CAC test pilot Jim Carter and power plant group engineer Lionel Dudgeon were both killed.

The airframe subsequently impacted 3 miles (4.8 km) south-west of Kilmore, Victoria.

The wreckage was recovered and used for components

Specifications

Crew: 3

Length: 39 ft 7 in (12.07 m)

Wingspan: 59 ft 2.5 in (18.047 m)

Height: 18 ft 2 in (5.54 m)

Wing area: 440 sq ft (41 m2)

Airfoil: root: NACA 2218.5; tip: NACA 2209

Empty weight: 12,765 lb (5,790 kg)

Max take off weight: 22,885 lb (10,380 kg)

Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3C3-G Twin Wasp 14 cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 1,200 hp (890 kW) each

Propellers: 3-bladed constant speed propellers

Performance

Maximum speed: 282 mph (454 km/h, 245 kn)

Cruise speed: 184 mph (296 km/h, 160 kn)

Range: 2,225 mi (3,581 km, 1,933 nmi) (with external tank and one torpedo)

Service ceiling: 23,500 ft (7,200 m)

Rate of climb: 2,090 ft/min (10.6 m/s)

Armament

Guns:

2 × .303in Browning machine guns in the nose

2 × 20 mm Hispano MkII cannon in the nose

4 × .303 Browning machine guns in two rear-firing remotely controlled barbettes

1 x .303 Vickers K machine gun in a ventral position

Bombs

4× 250 lb (113 kg) bombs internally in engine nacelle bays

and 4× 500 lb (224 kg) bombs

or 2× Mk XII, Mk XV or Mk 13 aerial torpedoes mounted under the fuselage

or 1× torpedo and 1× 293 imp gal (352 USG) external fuel tank mounted under the fuselage.

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