For reference purposes I’ve collated a list of production batch numbers for the CAC Wirraway aircraft delivered to the RAAF between July 1939 and July 1946. This page contains the batch numbers for Mark III Wirraways, which were delivered under the CA-16 production “contract”. A summary of Mark III production is given in the table below:
|Wirraway type||CAC Contract Number||RAAF Contract Demand||Ordering entity||Order Number||Quantity delivered||CAC Constructor’s Numbers||RAAF Serials|
|Mk III||CA-16||D.A.P. 1007||DAP||C.S.1800||135||1075 to 1209||A20-623 to 757|
DAP = Department of Aircraft Production
Wirraway Mark III production was planned in batches of 11 aircraft. But there was one exception:
- The final batch of production, batch “N” consisted of only 3 aircraft to make up 135 aircraft
Batch numbers consisted of a letter for each batch followed by a number for each aircraft in that batch (e.g. A1, A2, A3, A4, etc)..The letters I, O, Q and V were generally not used as batch numbers, as they could be confused for numbers. The CA-16 contract started with batch “A”.
The definitive source for batch numbers is a ledger book kept by Mr Gordon Parker, Supervisor in the Sales Department, and one of CAC’s earliest employees from 1936. This book is now held in the collection of the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin Airport.
Unfortunately there are two discrepancies in the last 25 entries in the ledger. Firstly, Parker skipped batch “L” for A20-733 to A20-743 and went straight from “K” to “M”. We know that batch “L” was not skipped in reality, as two surviving data plates reclaimed from airframes at Tocumwal show L2 for A20-734 (c/n 1186) and M5 for A20-748 (c/n 1200). Secondly, Parker stopped recording batch numbers at A20-740, so the batch codes shown in the list below are “extrapolated”. The batch “M” extrapolation is supported by the evidence of the M5 batch number on the A20-748 data plate. This leaves a question as to the last three aircraft – were they N1, N2 and N3, or was batch M continued for three more aircraft, as M12, M13 and M14. I have postulated that a new batch “N” was commenced, since CAC did not expect to end production at 755 aircraft. There were many debates between CAC and DAP over how many aircraft to supply to the RAAF (the original order was for 150 aircraft, and another order had been received for 100 additional “Dive Bomber” aircraft planned as CA-20, but only 135 were delivered under the CA-16 order), so it is logical to presume that the last three aircraft were N1, N2 and N3.
During production, batch numbers were temporarily attached to the firewall and then the rudder (once the engine was mounted). These temporary numbers are sometimes visible in factory photos.
These were a sequence of numbers allocated to each aircraft in the sequence that they came off the line. Wirraways delivered under the CA-16 contract were given constructor’s numbers from 1075 to 1209.
RAAF stores number
All equipment in the RAAF was allocated a stores number for tracking and accounting purposes. Aircraft were tracked under the category “A” and each aircraft was given a specific number, Wirraway aircraft being allocated the category A20. These numbers are often referred to as the “serial number” of the aircraft in RAAF service.
Linking batch numbers, stores numbers and constructor’s numbers
Here are several photos showing Mark III Wirraways under construction, allowing us to link the batch codes to RAAF stores/serial numbers.
Below we can see a group of camouflaged Mark III Wirraways on the production line. Batch numbers visible include D10 (furthest away, on the left) and E1 to E5 (closest, on the right). In the original photograph, D11 is also visible, sitting between D10 and E1, but pointing tail-on to the camera, so its rudder cannot be seen. These aircraft are A20-665 to A20-671, as evidenced by the three-digit number after the two-digit batch codes.
Later in the CA-16 contract, below is a view of H8 (A20-707, c/n 1159) attached to the lifting sling. The batch label taped to the rudder showing H8-707 is repeated in the inset at lower right.
The photo below shows late CA-16 production, with the aircraft now painted overall Trainer Yellow. K7 (A20-728) is visible sitting on dolly wheels, and the rudder of K8 (A20-729) is visible behind the aircraft (shown enlarged in the inset at lower left).
The table below lists batch numbers and construction numbers for all Mark III Wirraway aircraft, delivered under the CA-16 contract. The batch numbers are transcribed from Gordon Parker’s delivery records (with the last 25 entries corrected), and have been cross-checked with photographic evidence (some of which is shown above) and several frames and ID tags held in museums or private collections.
|CAC Contract Number CA-||CAC Constructor’s Number||RAAF Serial||Batch Number|
I welcome feedback on the table above, with supporting evidence of any possible inaccuracies.
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Sales Department Aircraft Delivery Ledger; Kept by Gordon Parker. CAC Collection, Australian National Aviation Museum.
Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Aircraft Drawing Office Manual. Incorporating up to Amendment List No. 2, Melbourne, Australia, 1946.