Tuesday, August 20

In review: Airframe Album No.3: The CAC Boomerang by Richard A. Franks - Valiant wings Publishing

An aircraft from my native country I didn’t know that much about before I read this book – the Australian built The CAC Boomerang - is the subject of Valiant Wings Publication’s new title – and gee are we glad we picked it up…..

Airframe Album No.3: The CAC Boomerang
– A Detailed Guide to The RAAF’s Famous WWII Fighter
by Richard A. Franks
Available from Valiant Wings Directly for £15.95

The third title in the Airframe Album series from Valliant Wings publishing features the Commonwealth Boomerang. An aircraft not as well-known as the proceeding subjects the Heinkel He 219 and Hawker Sea Fury – never the less the Boomerang has proved to be a popular subject with scale modellers  (notably the large 1/32 Montex/AlleyCat) Boomerang – along with the smaller Special Hobby and Airfix kits.  With technical help from Greg Batts and Richard Hourigan (both in the business of  preserving Boomerangs themselves)  The isometric views that are so popular by Jacek Jackiewicz , and aircraft profiles by Richard Caruana this is a book that modellers in particular will like. First I’ll take you through the book’s particulars before we look closer at each chapter.

This book – like it’s earlier brethren in this series, is a glossy softcover portrait layout in A4 sized coming in at 98 pages.  The preface goes into some detail about the genesis of the aircraft and the reason for it’s creation, how it differed to the locally built Wirraway, and the zenith of Boomerang development - the Rolls Royce Griffon powered “Kangaroo.” There is also a helpful glossary and several pictures of the genesis of the Boomerang.
On a personal not it sure is lovely to see this fighter developed in such a small country I am attached to. My ears pricked up whenever I read names of places I actually know where this aircraft flew and was built. This is a nice reminder right throughout the book – I am sure many Australians who read this will feel the same.I really didn't  have such an understanding of the importance of this aircraft until reading this book.
The first section of this book contains a detailed technical description of this little fighter from “Down Under” We look at detailed pictures and drawings – from both restored and wartime shots show of this plane in pretty much every detail you can think of. Starting at the cockpit we work through the airframe and outside it – covering the actual framing of the kite, the wiring and hydraulics, the outside skin of the aircraft, wings and tail as well as the undercarriage. The Pratt & Witney engine is shown off to good effect here as are unique parts to this aircraft like the porcupine exhausts. The drawings, text book pages and pictures really are the only walk around you will need here for this aircraft.
The second part is always a favourite of mine in this series - Jacek Jackiewicz does some really nifty isometric renders of the aircraft’s development cycle in this part. The angle of which shows you so much more than just a side on profile. Looking at these development timelines is often like a game of “spot the difference” and the way these are done, with annotations pointing to the differences really are an idiots guide (guilty judge) of what changed and why. The whole development of the kite is here – right thru to the projected future versions that never fired in anger. A great feature in this series and an excellent innovation.
The section on camouflage and markings is next – This is a hard thing to get right - and of course there is the obligatory disclaimer about it not ever being 100% but only best guesses in some cases – but I suppose the art of colour recognition from black and white photos really IS a black art (maybe a dark grey art?) Anyway what Valliant does here is go deep into picture archives of the Boomerang right through it’s service, including the relaxing of the rules in 1944 that led to these aircraft having the familiar foliage green with white recognition tails that many of us know them by..
National insignia and codes are talked about as well as a double page stencil layout that tells you just where to put your wayward lettering on the kit you are making. After that we see another feature that I have come to identify with this series – six pages of various schemes of this bird as drawn by talented aviation profilist Richard J Caruana. There are some nicely detailed kites there.
The next chapter we talk about the Boomerangs that survived the war and many that have been restored or in that process. This is where having the involvement in the pairing of Greg Batts and Richard Hourigan – both Boomerang restorers – pays handsomely. While most of these aircraft have stayed in Australia, some have made it all the way to the United states, I wish I would have known about the Boomerang near my childhood home of Dalby in Queensland as a teen when I lived there – I might have had a look at it. It is with the help of a book like this that enables you to find the last remaining airframes. Twenty five are listed in this book – as well as a full size replica in the states – a good bit of detective work to find them all.

The next chapter shows all the modellers the rest of the kits they need to complete their Boomerang fetish. From a great review of the 32nd scale Boomerang from Alleycat Models (formerly Montex) we look at every other kit, decal, PE set and resin aftermarket set known to man it seems that will fit this airplane in all major aircraft scales. This is a great tool to help you find that elusive colour scheme or add on that you might have known about before this book. There is also a feature in a bit of free bonus content  from this title- a 1/32 scale build Boomerang book in PDF format Download here in a 2.1 mb file.
Next there is an interesting appendicy showing a brief history of EVERY known Boomerang – what a passage of research here in this alone, hats off!
Last but not least it is obvious to me that this is a labour of love for the author – the large bibliography with pictures of the books shows that here is affection for this little known subject. That kind of enthusiasm is a good thing when someone is writing a tittle trying to depict every aspect of an aircraft.

And that is pretty much what you have here. Immaculately researched, well written with great pictures, drawings and most of all a wealth of interesting information. It makes me look at the Boomerang in a different light. A great book.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Valliant Wings Publishing for sending this book for us to read and review