AIRFIX 1:72 C.A.C. CA-13 BOOMERANG
Reviewer: Gavin Dore (rec.models.scale)
The Boomerang was the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation's only indigenous fighter for Australia in World War 2. The declaration of war with Japan in the Pacific caught the RAAF with only a handful of outdated fighter examples and prompted them to replenish their stock with more modern warplanes. A deal with US saw them secure a promise for a batch of P-40 Kittyhawks, but due to other order committments and their war with Japan also, the Australian order would be delayed. Fearing that they might be caught with little in the way of airborne resistance the CAC decided to produce an emergency fighter based on the Wirraway trainer. The prototype used the wings, landing gear and tail unit of the trainer married to a completely new fuselage and made its first flight in 1942. These were subsequently designated CA-12 Boomerangs and were delivered to the RAAF, reaching operational status in early 1943. By mid-1943 Boomerangs had replaced all Wirraways on the front-line but were more efficient as ground attack and forward air-control planes. Three versions of the Boomerang were produced consequently given CA-12, CA-13 and CA-19 designations.
Airfix produce one RAAF CA-13 version in injected moulded plastic replicating two aircraft based in New Guinea. From my experience in modelling over the past ten years I have always known this kit to be extremely popular purely because it was the only one available in scale 1/72. When Airfix stopped producing these kits a fair few years ago you could only pick these kits up at Model swaps for a hefty price. Even more so given that I am an Australian where these kits were eagerly sought after - especially from ex-servicemen. Recently Airfix has re-released this kit but I am lead to believe that has not been upgraded from the effort available many years ago.
Anyway, onto the kit itself. The box is small and houses just 25-30 parts including a one-piece canopy and is really a simple kit to build. Unfortunately the detail on the aircraft is a bit exhaggerated with prominent raised panel lines that should be filed down for a better representation. I went through a quick dry-fit process and found the engine to be a bit out of proportion given that the Wasp engine on the real aircraft has a very distinctive shape. But only die-hard Boomerang addicts are going to notice this easily.
Construction was quite quick and easy except for some problem areas which I will get onto. Don't expect much in the way of interior cockpit detail, you are simply provided with a pilot figure and a seat to affix to the inside of the aircraft - not even an instrument panel! I was forced into having to scratchbuild my own interpretation which looked much more representative on the finished product. The other thing to note is that if you have a closed canopy you will find that it distorts the interior so all that good work won't be fully appreciated.
The first problem that strikes is getting the engine cowling and air intake to mate onto the aircraft. This was a complete source of frustration and required great amounts of sanding back the connection point and filling it with putty before it looked good. Second was getting the wing joined properly to the fuselage. The fuselage sits on the one-piece underside portion of the wing while the two upper components are attached to the lower wing and against the fuselage - here's hoping that makes sense! This required a great deal of patience, attention and a shit load of putty to get it to join properly and look right, taking several hours and applications for a decent conclusion. The next problem was attaching the engine nazelles to the side of the fuselage - they were a little smaller and out of shape compared to the slot they were meant to be placed into. However with a bit of sanding down and putty this was more a nuisance than a frustration.
I know I said above that this was a simple kit but above were really the only concerns raised in an otherwise quick glue and attach job. With the right fit you could fix up an unpainted model in a matter of minutes! And I should say that the remainder of the kit went without a hitch providing you have putty on hand, being typical of Airfix '70's kits!
The two examples that the kit replicates are an overall foilage green CA-13 from No.5 Squadron, RAAF, based in Bougainville, New Guinea 1944 and a typical Earth Brown, Foilage Green CA-13 from No.4 Squadron, RAAF, New Guinea, 1943. The instructions give Humbrol colour references and I note that it recommends using Hu75 Matt Bronze Green and Hu29 Light Brown as the exact enamel codes to use. Foilage Green in my opinion is a little darker than this and I used Hu149 or FS34092 on my aircraft as a better representation. Reference to light brown is also incorrect with the aircraft having a more dark earth brown scheme but Hu29 is Dark Earth not light brown as stated and I accepted this as an accurate colour. For undersides of both aircraft examples the Hu23 "Vellum" colour is recommended, I assume this was the name given to that paint back in the 70's as my reference says Hu23 is "Duck Egg Blue". No matter what it is called it is still the right colour to paint the undersides.
If you can get your hands on the "Wirraway, Boomerang and CA-15" in Australian Service (the latter plane being a late war indigenous CAC prototype resembling the P-51) by Stewart Wilson then you will have all the information you need on these three unique aircraft manufactured in Australia, including correct colour references, history development etc. Soft cover is >200 pages and it retails for about $20AUD (postage extra) from Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd. You can certainly find out more information from contacting me in the models newsgroup, or probably more preferable since I don't frequent it like I used to, Braithy, who runs this site and has this book in hard-cover.
So overall this is a simple kit for those who are not fussed with a bit of fit problems in the areas highlighted above which even all but the very basic novice should be able to overcome, bearing in mind the kit's age which needs to be taken into account. It's the only offering in 1/72 that I am aware of and I picked this kit up for less than $5AUD at K-Mart, so it should be fairly cheap wherever you get it from. On the basis of all this it is certainly recommended.
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Kit Review Index: 1/72 1/48
Photo Credit: Unknown
The airfix reproduces an aircraft with almost the same fuselage serial -
kit being BF-S
Note: the positioning of the engine exhaust, shape of cowling and wing landing lights
These parts are subject of accuracy criticism (especially overall cowling shape) in Airfix's reproduction