Airfix 1/72 CA-13 Boomerang Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||September 2007||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Kit Number||2009||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice subject||Cons||Next to nil interior detail. Mad Riveter work on wings|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$7.95|
The Boomerang was an Australian fighter and attack aircraft. In comparison with the other leading fighters of WWII, the Boomerang may appear to have been obsolete before it even started. However, this aircraft was an incredible achievement under extremely difficult conditions. Despite all the odds, it made a notable contribution to Allied victory.
After Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Australians had to develop a fighter of their own to fill the gap in their armory. There was scant hope of receiving fighters from Britain or the United States, and self-help seemed the only solution. But they had little time, and did not possess the requisite hardware, equipment or experience. It was eventually decided to develop the North American trainer design (akin to the T-6/Harvard family) that was being built in Australia as the Commonwealth Aircraft “Wirraway”. This was often called the Commonwealth “Wackett”, because work was done by Wing Commander I. J. Wackett, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation general manager. Wackett then found he had to create a fighter in a matter of weeks.
There was only one possible engine, the proven but otherwise inadequate Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp of 1200 hp. The rest of the aircraft was mainly a strengthened and redesigned Wirraway, with single-spar stressed-skin wing, steel-tube fuselage with covering of fabric or removable metal panels, and fabric-covered light-alloy control surfaces. The armament was the same as the Spitfire Mk. V: two 20 mm (0.79 in) Hispano cannon and four 0.303 in. (7.7 mm) Browning machine-guns.
The cockpit was comfortable and well arranged. The radio was good, and there was a bullet-proof windscreen and back armor. The fuel tanks were self-sealing. All this ensured a robust machine, well suited to combat duty in the hardest conditions. Nobody could do more at the time, and when the prototype flew on May 29, 1942 – just as the Japanese were hammering at the gates of Australia – the Boomerang was found to have outstanding maneuverability.
By 1944, Commonwealth Aircraft’s Fishermen’s Bend factory had delivered 250 of the tough little fighters. They achieved much in difficult campaigns in New Guinea and countless other southwest Pacific islands. The total comprised 105 CA-12’s, 95 CA-13’s, one CA-14 with supercharger, and 49 C-19 versions. Most could carry a 227 kg (500 lb) bomb, and varied other loads including cameras, smoke apparatus, target markers, and – in 1944 – rocket projectiles.
Even after the availability of much faster fighters, the nimble Boomerangs were kept in service. They flew all kinds of close-support and attack missions and what later generations would call forward air control. On many occasions, they tangled with Japanese fighters, and not only held their own against them, but also proved exceptionally suited to destroying Axis bombers. Never has a stop-gap fighter, that on paper looked hopeless, been such a popular machine with the men that went to war in it.
Airfix is a model company based in the UK (although this particular kit says they had it molded in France). I cut my teeth on aircraft models with their company almost 40 years ago. They are the OLD MAN of the model industry, Frog (also out of the UK, and now long gone) was the other brand I started with.
The kit comes in one of the smallest, good and sturdy, tray and lid type boxes. The box art shows a Boomerang in a two-color wave pattern camouflage of light brown and bronze green with gray bottom. It carries the gray fuselage code of BF 5 and has a Donald Duck on the forward fuselage. This is the markings of a machine of the no. 4 Australian squadron, based at New Guinea in 1943. (marking included on the decal) Airfix has re-issued this kit several times over the years and some of the box arts are different.
Inside the box are 4 medium gray trees of parts, that are loose and not in a cello bag. There is a small tree of clear canopy parts, the decal sheet (which has a nice tissue to protect the face of it) and the instructions.
The instructions consist of 2 separate sheets. One sheet has the history of the Boomerang printed on both sides of it in 10 different languages, including English. This is followed by some general instructions of the “before you proceed” type in the same languages and finally some international assembly symbol explanations.
The second sheet is folded in the center into 4 pages. It has 4 exploded drawings to use for assembly of the kit on the first 2 pages. On each of the last 2 pages are 4-view illustrations (one on each page) of the two marking and camouflage schemes offered.
The first one is the one already described above and on the box art.
The second scheme is overall bronze green above gray. It carries the white fuselage code QE A, has a Donald Duck painted on the forward fuselage and the word “Fooey” in yellow on the side of the cowling. This aircraft was of the no. 5 Australian squadron based at Bougainville in 1944.
The first medium gray parts tree holds: one half of the fuselage, one of the horizontal tail surfaces, the cowling, the exhaust pipe, the pilot seat and pilot figure, two banks of the radial engine, the prop and its axle piece (10 parts)
The second medium gray parts tree holds: the other half of the fuselage, the other horizontal tail surface, the belly fuel tank, the main landing gear parts and wheels, the tail wheel, landing gear doors, pitot tube, cannon barrels and tail wheel (15 parts)
The third medium gray tree holds just the lower wing piece. This is full span and has the gun shell ejector holes molded through both wings. However, the raised detail on the wings is of the raised variety and “Mad Riveter” work. Back 20 years ago, Airfix was kind of notorious for putting a lot of rivets on their kits for DETAIL. It was said, back then, that if you scaled these rivets up to life size that they would be the size of watermelons on a real aircraft. Purists may want to sand them down and do rescribing. The flaps on the wings, horizontal surfaces and the rudder flap are all molded solid.
The last medium gray parts are the two upper wing halves.
Parts are well molded with no flash visible on any parts. However, there is small sink marks on each of the upper wing halves. These are opposite the location pins molded on the insides and will require some attention.
There is only a pilot figure and a seat offered for the cockpit interior and purists will want to do some extra detailing in there.
The last parts tree is clear and holds the canopy parts (3 parts)
This is an important Allied aircraft and deserves a place in any collection of WWII aircraft. The kit is a simple build, out of the box. I recommend it to all aircraft modelers.