In-Box Review
CAC CA-9 Wirraway
  • SH_Wirraway_Boxtop

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Special Hobby continue their welcome policy of tackling subjects that have been overlooked previously as mainstream injected kits in 1/48 scale. After their well-received CAC Boomerang, they've taken the logical step and followed up with its antecedent - almost a legend in Australian aviation - the Wirraway.

Packed in one of Special Hobby's solid and attractive top-opening boxes, the Wirraway is a mixed media kit produced with limited run technology and comprises:

55 x grey styrene parts
11 x injected clear parts
17 x beige resin parts
36 x etched metal parts, plus printed film instrument faces
Decals for 3 colour schemes.

The styrene parts are quite cleanly moulded with little sign of flash or sinkage. Most of the parts will require a little extra clean up, compared with a mainstream kit, but this is only to be expected. Sprue attachments are generally small, but I did find one or two overstressed parts that will need a quick repair. There are a number of prominent ejector pin marks to remove before assembly.

As is steadily becoming the norm with Special Hobby, the surface finish is excellent, with finely engraved panel lines augmented by some raised panels and very convincing fabric surfaces. The designers have followed the present trend and included some embossed rivets and fasteners, and these are delicately done.

A test fit is pretty encouraging. The fuselage halves and wings line up neatly, the latter having nice thin trailing edges. The wing roots and wheel wells involve interlocking parts, which would have been a recipe for trouble in a short-run kit just a few years ago, but work well here in a sure sign of how things have progressed. There's still likely to be a little work to do - the wing centre section needs to be flat to avoid gaps at the roots and the weight of the outer panels have a tendency to make it droop somewhat.

A few details
A big change in kits like this over the last few years is greater reliance on styrene for details where resin would have been used previously. So, the bulk of the quite complex interior is plastic in Special Hobby's Wirraway, with 20 parts creating the tubular framework "office" and into this fit etched instrument panels and rudder pedals, plus excellent resin seats with etched harnesses. The control columns look overscale, but I'll have to find references to be sure.

The radial engine is a single resin casting with some excellent detail, needed only pushrods and wiring to really shine out. The main undercarriage includes etched oleo scissors and there's a choice of styrene or resin tailwheels.

The injected canopy is crystal clear with crisply defined framing. Etched handles are provided for the inside, but the canopy is moulded in one piece with no option to display it open. The instruction state that the rearmost section must be cut away, leaving the rear cockpit partly open. The boxtop illustration seems to show a gun-mount, but none is included in the kit - and the rear seat doesn't look like it could swivel for a gunner. The only armament provided comprises a pair of resin gun barrels for the cowl-mounted machine guns.

The propeller is a simple one piece moulding, augmented by a neat resin hub with pitch control weights, and the final exterior details include etched trim tab actuators and clear styrene lamp covers.

Instruments and decals
The assembly diagrams are well drawn in typical Special Hobby style and everything is laid out in a logical order. The position of the pilot's instrument panel seems a little vague, but that might be clearer when fitting the parts for real. Gunze Sangyo paint matches are provided throughout.

Decals are included for 3 aircraft:

a. CA-9 Wirraway s/n A20-444, NV-J, 23 Sqn., RAAF, Queensland 1943.
b. CA-9 Wirraway s/n A20-496, TM, 23 Sqn., RAAF, Queensland 1943.
c. CA-9 Wirraway s/n A20-572, QE-H, 4 Sqn., RAAF, New Guinea 1942/43.

The decals look very good quality, being thin and glossy and printed in perfect register.

It's great to see an injection moulded Wirraway as no collection of Texans and Harvards is complete without their Australian cousin. Despite the huge strides in limited run kts, this still isn't one for total beginners, but anyone with some experience of mixed media modelling shouldn't have any major problems and Special Hobby's Wirraway looks set to be a very satisfying build.

Special Hobby's CA-9 Wirraway is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Well produced short-run styrene parts with etched and resin details. Good quality decals.
Lows: No option for a rear-firing machine gun or underwing stores.
Verdict: More proof, if needed, that the short-run manufacturers are closing the gap between their products and mainstream kits. Some extra modelling experience is still recommended to get the best out of the Wirraway, but it looks set to be a very enjoyable build
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: SH48054
  Suggested Retail: 27.50
  PUBLISHED: Nov 09, 2008
  NATIONALITY: Australia

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Good review. I'm actually starting on this one today in fact. I notice the kit has some unused parts, mainly different top decking for in front of the cockpit, so i'd say there is at least one more boxing to come- possible the version with a rear gun. Though i believe most were operated as trainers forced into combat duties like SH portray this one, i think they rarely carried a second crew member on ground attack duties- hence no rear gun. Andrew
NOV 09, 2008 - 07:39 AM
Hi Andrew Thanks for the info on the rear seat set-up. I'm looking forward to seeing how your build goes, because it'll be quite a while before I get a chance to tackle my own Wirraway. All the best Rowan
NOV 09, 2008 - 08:04 AM

Click image to enlarge
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  • SH_Wirraway_Clear
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  • SH_Wirraway_Etch
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  • SH_Wirraway_Decals
  • SH_Wirraway_Surface_1
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  • SH_Wirraway_Cowl-top
  • SH_Wirraway_Floor
  • SH_Wirraway_Side-frame
  • SH_Wirraway_Console
  • SH_Wirraway_Seats
  • SH_Wirraway_Engine
  • SH_Wirraway_Propeller
  • SH_Wirraway_Wheels
  • SH_Wirraway_Canopy