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North American Aviation NA-16-1A (NA-32)
The NA-16-1A (also known by its NAA accounting code or "charge code" of NA-32) was a single-engined 2-seat training and general purpose aircraft which was considered for production by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.
The NA-16-1A was constructed at the Inglewood, California factory of NAA and given the construction number 32-387. It was dismantled and crated prior to shipping to Australia.
The NA-16-1A arrived in Australia on August 9th 1937 and made it's first flight on September 3rd in the hands of Squadron Leader F.R.W. Scherger. Flight tests on the NA-16-1A at Point Cook continued until September 15th.
Comparative tests between the NA-16-1A and the NA-16-2K took place in December 1937 following the arrival of the retractable-gear aircraft.
On January 14th 1938 the Air Board wrote to the Defence Department to inform the Minister that trials of the NA-16-1A and the NA-16-2K had confirmed that the NA-16-2K had superior performance and more desirable features.
Since the NA-16-1A was no longer needed by CAC for development activities, it could now be handed over to the RAAF for conversion training for the new Wirraway aircraft which would later be entering service.
The NA-16-1A was handed over to the RAAF on February 2nd 1938, and from this point its history can be traced from RAAF records. Text in italics below is taken from the service card for A20-1:
02/02/1938 Received at 1 Aircraft Depot (Laverton) ex CAC. Wasp engine number 6155. Order number A.30964
07/02/1938 Issued to No. 2 Squadron, Laverton
As soon as the aircraft was delivered to the RAAF, Group Captain Wrigley, Commanding Officer of RAAF Laverton, wrote to the Air Board pointing out that there was no cock (shut-off valve) installed between the oil tank and the oil pump, which could result in oil draining into the head of the lowest cylinders and possibly causing damage due to the high compression in this situation. The Directorate of Technical Services at the Air Board pointed out that later Wasp engines incorporated a non-return valve which served the function of the proposed cock without adding the risk that the engine could be operated with the oil turned off at the cock.
During its time at No. 2 (General Purpose) Squadron at Laverton, it was noticed that a large amount of flame was emitted from the exhaust manifold when the aircraft was performing aerobatics, particularly in slow rolling vertical climbs. In some cases flames could be seen extending along the full length of the fuselage by observers on the ground when the aircraft was flown inverted.
On April 27th 1938 the CO of No. 2 Squadron wrote to the CO of RAAF Laverton to express his concerns as it was observed that heat from the exhaust had blistered the dope on the cowlings and wing covering at the root of the wing and had scorched the fabric on the removable fuselage side panel. The heat had even buckled some of the wing leading-edge near the root. The Squadron dismantled and checked the carburetor to determine if this was the cause and it appeared that a non-return valve (intended for inverted flight) was not installed on the carburetor and this was allowing excess petrol to flow into the engine. This excess fuel was not burned during the combustion cycle and ignited in the exhaust manifold, resulting in the flames coming from the exhaust pipe.
On April 2nd the aircraft was inspected at CAC by Lawrence Wackett and P.Vf. Schipper. They pronounced the damage as only cosmetic and the aircraft as airworthy. They suggested repairing the aluminium skin when the aircraft was available to do so, and extending the exhaust manifold by 12 inches to prevent the hot exhaust flowing over the wing root when the aircraft was flown inverted. Photographs of the aircraft do not show any such extension so it appears this suggestion was not followed. However photographs of the aircraft later in its life show a metal patch on the lower front of the fuselage, replacing a section of fabric covering which would have suffered scorching again.
On June 1st 1938 the Directorate of Technical Services sent 8 rollers for installation on the sliding canopy sections to RAAF Laverton and on June 22nd the Commanding Officer at Laverton informed the Air Board that these had been installed on the aircraft.
24/06/1938 Received at No. 1 Flying Training School (Point Cook) ex 2 Squadron
During its time with No. 1 Flying Training School at Point Cook, the under-side of the tail-plane was damaged and the aircraft was sent back to CAC for repairs. It was also noticed that the heads were breaking off some of the counter-sunk bolts along the front of the engine cowling.
24/08/1938 Returned to CAC for repairs.
Part of the skin was replaced underneath the tail-plane and some local reinforcing was also added.
09/09/1938 Arrived 1 FTS ex CAC
23/09/1938 Wingtip struck ground at Point Cook
On October 5th 1938 an urgent request was placed with CAC to repair the starboard aileron and wing-tip.
On October 24th 1938 it was proposed that the aircraft should be withdrawn to No. 1 Aircraft Depot and held there until the first squadron to be equipped with Wirraways was ready.
On February 2nd 1939 the spark plugs were checked by CAC and found to be in excellent condition after 20 hours running time on the engine.
During the middle of April it was noticed that the Exide battery was inefficient, resulting in a ban on aerobatics issued on April 20th.
22/08/1939 Received No. 1 Squadron ex 1FTS
28/08/1939 Allotted No. 21 Squadron ex 1Sqn
17/10/1939 120-hourly service 23/10 Engine #6155
10/01/1940 Allotted No. 8 Squadron ex 21 Sqn
17/05/1940 Allotted 1AD ex 8 Sqn for complete overhaul
24/05/1940 Received 1AD ex 8Sqn for for ARS rep
12/06/1940 Allotted Engineering School ex 1AD
23/06/1940 Issued to Engineering School ex 1AD converted to Wirraway instructional airframe #2
17/10/1945 Converted to components
A selection of books containing information related to the NA-16-1A:
Additional internet information sources
You can find more information regarding the NA-16-1A on these websites:
1. "FIGHTING AEROPLANES." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 10 Aug 1937: 8. Web. 27 Jul 2012 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25419245
2. "NEW FIGHTING 'PLANE TESTED AT LAVERTON" The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Saturday 4 September 1937, page 18 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17405543
3. Letter 14/01/1938 from Secretary, Air Board to Secretary, Department of Defence, RAAF ref 16/1/7. National Archives of Australia, Series number , Control Symbol
4. Aircraft status cards, Wirraway A20-1 to A20-305. National Archives of Australia, Series number A10297, Control symbol BLOCK 107
5. Letter 7/02/1938 from RAAF Laverton to Air Board, RAAF reference 212/1/2E. National Archives of Australia, Series number A705, Control symbol 9/15/5
6. Letter 28/02/1938 from DTS, Air Member for Supply to RAAF Laverton. National Archives of Australia, Series number A705, Control symbol 9/15/5
7. Letter 27/4/1938 from CO No.2 Sqn to CO RAAF Laverton ref 212/1/2. National Archives of Australia, Series number A705, Control symbol 9/15/5
8. Letter 1/6/38 from DTS to RAAF Laverton. National Archives of Australia, Series number A705, Control symbol 9/15/5
9. Letter 22/6/38 from RAAF Laverton to Air Board. National Archives of Australia, Series number A705, Control symbol 9/15/5
10. Correspondence file 10/08/1938 reference 1FTS 2729 (FS 115). National Archives of Australia, Series number A2408, Control symbol 9/15 PART 1
11. Correspondence file 10/02/1939 reference 1FTS 2728 (FS 114). National Archives of Australia, Series number A2408, Control symbol 9/15 PART 1
12. Letter 9/8/1938 from DTS to DE. National Archives of Australia, Series number A705, Control symbol 9/15/5
13. Correspondence file 05/10/1938 reference SAB 11389. National Archives of Australia, Series number A2408, Control symbol 9/15 PART 1
14. Correspondence file 27/10/1938 reference A/CAS. National Archives of Australia, Series number A2408, Control symbol 9/15 PART 1
15. Correspondence file 02/02/1939 CAC Resident Technical Officer reference 075/39. National Archives of Australia, Series number A2408, Control symbol 9/15 PART 1
16. Correspondence file 20/04/1939 reference 250/34/17S. National Archives of Australia, Series number A2408, Control symbol 9/15 PART 1
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First created 17/06/2012 last updated 17/06/2012