In this documentary we cover the history of Australian military aircraft manufacturing as described by Michael Nelmes from his August 2023 article in Wings Magazine. For more great articles check out Wings Magazine

Video note from Michael Nelmes: The photo of the North American NA-16 trainer (at 2:50) shows the prototype NA-16 in America, whereas the later version on which the Wirraway was based was markedly different – see image below:

NA-16 trainer from which the Australian Wirraway was based.

Home-Made Wings: 100 years of Australian aircraft production for the RAAF By Michael Nelmes

AUSTRALIAN AIRCRAFT PRODUCTION had its humble beginnings in 1909. George Augustine Taylor, founder of the Aerial League of Australia and a proponent of Lawrence Hargraves’ earlier experiments with box-kites, set up a small facility at Surry Hills in Sydney where he produced two gliders.

Then, just after World War I, The Australian Aircraft & Engineering Company set up a factory at Sydney’s Mascot to license-build Avro 504K biplanes, including six built for the RAAF in 1922 from Australian timber.

In 1930-31, the Larkin Aircraft Supply Company (known as LasCo), set up a factory and airfield at Coode Island in Melbourne and built 32 de Havilland Gipsy Moths for the RAAF. LasCo had previously designed and built the first Australian airliner, Australia’s first metal aircraft, in 1929, a decade before the Wirraway. In 1933, it produced the first multi-engined airliner to be designed and built in the southern hemisphere.

That period also saw General Aircraft Company (Genairco) produce a unique de-Havilland/Avro hybrid biplane at Mascot, NSW. Genairco was superseded in 1933 by Tugan, whose general manager was SQNLDR Lawrence Wackett. He had headed the RAAF Experimental Aircraft Section at Randwick in 1924-31 and designed the successful Wackett Widgeon flying boat during his tenure. Resigning from the RAAF, Wackett worked at Cockatoo Island naval dockyard in Sydney to design a twin-engined airliner, the Codock, for Charles Kingsford Smith. Returning to Tugan, he designed its successor, the Tugan/Wackett Gannett, seven of which were built at Mascot and, in 1935, made history as the RAAF’s first locally designed and built aircraft.

The rest, as they say, is history…

Find out more by watching the video above and reading the article in the August 2023 issue of Wings magazine