NA-16 first flew at Laverton

The fixed undercarriage variant of the North American Aviation designed low wing monoplane called the NA-16-1A was received in Australia in early August 1937, to serve as a template for local production under licence. A version with retractable undercarriage, the NA-16-2K, arrived late the following month. The NA-16-1A undertook its maiden flight in Australia at Laverton on this day, with Squadron Leader F.R.W. Scherger at the controls. It was actually the second aircraft, often known as the NA-33, which went into production with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation––newly-established at Fishermen’s Bend, Victoria––as the Wirraway (Aboriginal for ‘Challenge’). Although only an advanced trainer, orders for the Wirraway eventually ran to 755 aircraft, making this a key element in the development of Australian industry. The locally-produced model flew for the first time on 27 March 1939, and when war began the RAAF had its first seven on strength.

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