Special Wings

Something a bit different today, and (yet) another area that could furnish enough interesting examples of the topic to be a blog all of its own. Lapel pins.


Here we have Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) lapel pins. Interestingly, they feature three types of such pin, the stick pin, here featuring the CAC Wirraway aircraft’s name, and in two versions where the two blue colours in the enamel rings are swapped. (I have no idea why.) Technically the rings would be roundels, but they aren’t representing  aircraft roundels. The wings on either side are another regularly used motif in aviation art and design, most famous as the pilot’s brevet, usually known as ‘wings’.

The second is the buttonhole pin, with a front view of a Wirraway, superimposed on a RAAF roundel of red white and blue, though the proportions have been adjusted to make the design work. On the outer blue ring is the company name. The back has an anvil shaped hook that sits through a jacket’s lapel buttonhole.

The CAC Wirraway was the first mass produced aircraft in Australia, entering production in the late thirties and taking a number of crucial roles in the Pacific war – although outclassed by the Japanese enemy there – and on the home front. ‘Wirraway’ is an Aboriginal Australian word for ‘Challenge’ from one of the Victorian Aboriginal languages.

Last is the cheapest, yet most exclusive of the three, being a classic ‘button’ type badge, but for the business’ executives to be identified, with only text, showing the full name of the business, including the typical Australian ‘PTY. LTD.’ for ‘Propitiatory Limited’. This was given to my grandmother, Lucy Whellams when she left the company by the executive that she’d worked for. It’s notable that none of them feature the CAC ‘bird’ logo that the company widely used from the Wirraway production onward, seen below, from a web page heading a CAC history here.


It’s a set of great personal importance, but also serves as a good example of wartime company badges. These would be owned by company workers (though there might be some used as ‘sweetheart badges’ for spouses) and shows some diversity in the kind of item that people mostly had as an identifier to show they were engaged on war work, and also to show the pride in their business.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Photo and pins author’s own, inherited from Lucy Plummer (nee Whellams) one of the first women to go and work at CAC in 1936, and the author’s grandmother.

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