Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-15 Kangaroo
During 1943, following the success of CAC and chief designer Fred David, in rapidly designing and mass producing the small Boomerang fighter for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), CAC began design work on a fully fledged interceptor and bomber escort. Basing on RAAF specification No. 2/42, preliminary work on a very ambitious long-range fighter aircraft started, which received the factory designation CA-15. Layout was an all-metal cantilever low-wing construction with retractable undercarriage and the pilot's position in a closed cabin.
Although the CA-15, also known unofficially as the CAC Kangaroo, bore a superficial resemblance to the North American P-51 Mustang, the CAC design was not based directly on the U.S. aircraft and had quite different performance objectives and dimensions. David had been impressed by assessments of captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190s and intended using a radial engine rather than an inline. Development of the CA-15 was slowed by a recommendation from CAC head Lawrence Wackett, that the company build Mustangs under licence, rather than bear the cost of developing a unique design. By the later stages of its development, it was believed that the CA-15 would have capabilities enabling it to replace the P-51.
In 1943, a mockup of the aircraft was built, although the development process was delayed because the project engineers wanted to accomodate the fighter to low heights. By August 1943, the RAAF accepted the new concept of the machine by specification No. 2/43. In 1944, the mounting of the structural elements of the first prototype started, although in August 1944 the R-2800-21W engine turned out not to be available. At first, the CAC designers planned to use the 2,300 hp (1,715 kW) radial Pratt & Whitney R-2800, with a turbocharger. However, that engine became unavailable, causing further delays in development. The choice fell on British engines; the Rolls-Royce "Griffon" type 120 or 125, although the radial Bristol "Centaurus" had been proposed. The Griffon turned out to have the smallest frontal surface, however, the Griffon 120/125 version had not yet reached its serial production stage, so the British decided to replace it with the 2,035 hp/1,517 kW Griffon 61 version.
Engines for a prototype were leased from Rolls-Royce. The first two copies of the Griffon 61 arrived in Australia in April 1945. The first prototype of the CA-15, as RAAF A62-1001, was completed in February 1946, five months after the end of the war in the Pacific Ocean.
Development was further slowed by the end of the war, with the prototype flying for the first time on 4 March 1946, and was flown by CAC test pilot Jim Schofield, who also flew the first Australian built P-51. The prototype was assigned RAAF serial number A62-1001.
From June 27th, 1946, the prototype performed test flights at the No.1 Aircraft Performance Unit (No.1 APU) at Laverton. Until then, the prototype already had executed 23 flights of joint 16 hours and 45 minutes. It achieved a calibrated level flight speed of 448 mph (721 km/h) at 26,400 ft (8,046 m). Test flights came to an abrupt ending when Flt Lt J. A. L. Archer suffered a hydraulic failure (later found to be a leaking ground test gauge) on approach to Point Cook on 10 December 1946, which left him no choice but to orbit and burn off fuel. The main gear was only halfway down and unable to be retracted or lowered any further but the tail wheel was down and locked. On landing, the tail wheel struck the airstrip first causing the aircraft to porpoise and finally, the airscoop dug in. The aircraft settled back on the fuselage and skidded to a stop, heavily damaged.
On 19 May 1948 the aircraft was transferred to the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU),
By this time, however, it was clear that jet aircraft had far greater potential and no further examples of the CA-15 were built. The prototype was scrapped in 1950, and the engines were returned to Rolls-Royce.