Wirraway CA-5

The Aircraft On Display

The museum's Wirraway is a Mk III, with RAAF serial A20-688. It was built in 1944, and used by the RAAF in the Eastern States until 1956 when it was transferred to RAAF Pearce. In 1959 it was decided to dispose of the aircraft, and it was transferred to the care of the Western Australian Education Department to be used for training at Midland's Technical school aviation annexe.

It was parked in the open and used as a technical airframe to train apprentices; the engine was run from time to time in connection with aircraft engine classes. After negotiations between the technical college and the RAAF Association it was decided that the Wirraway would be transferred to the RAAFAWA Aviation Heritage Museum collection.

Type / History

Type Two-seat advanced trainer and general
purpose military aircraft
Manufacturer Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation
Designer (North American Aviation, USA)
Maiden Flight 27th March, 1939
Introduced 10th July, 1939
Retired 1959
Primary users RAAF, RAN
Number built 755
Variants CA-28 Ceres

While appearing similar to the US T-6 Texan, the Wirraway was actually based on its predecessor, the NA-16. The RAAF acquired a fixed-undercarriage and a retractable-undercarriage version of this type for testing, deciding on the latter. Through its manufacturing lifetime, the Wirraway received manufacturer's type numbers CA-1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 16 and 20 - although the changes were more often administrative rather than structural.

Wirraways were mainly operated as advanced trainers during World War II, but in the early stages of the Pacific war, some saw action against Japanese fighters and bombers - with only a little success, and many losses.

The RAAF continued to use the Wirraway as a trainer after the war, the last not being retired until 1959. Civil use was more limited, the design not being readily adapted for other tasks. A brief trial for agricultural use showed that the design was not suited for this task, but did provide a basis for the modifications that were made in producing its successful derivative, the Ceres.

General Characteristics

General characteristics

Length: 27 ft 10 in (8.48 m)
Height: 8 ft 9 in (2.66 m)
Wingspan 43 ft 0 in (13.11 m)
Powerplant: Pratt and Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial engine, 600 hp (450 kW)
Weight: empty 3992 lb (1810 kg), maximum takeoff 6595 lb (2990 kg)


Maximum speed: 350 km/h (220 mph)
Cruising speed: 250 km/h (155 mph)
Range: 1200 km (720 mi)
Service ceiling: 7000 m (23000 ft)


Guns: 2, 0.303 (0.77 in) Vickers machine guns
Bomb load: 2, 500 lb (230 kg) bombs and 2, 250 lb (110 kg) bombs