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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Sir Lawrence Wackett

Louis Kahan

pen and ink, brush and ink on paper (sheet: 58.0 cm x 39.1 cm)

Sir Lawrence Wackett KBE DFC AFC (1896-1982), aircraft designer, pilot and entrepreneur, was educated at the Duntroon Military Academy, and was later chosen as a member of the newly formed Australian Flying Corps. In the First World War he served in Palestine and Europe, and was noted for his innovative methods and courageous actions. During his service, he was promoted to Major, and awarded two Air Force medals for bravery under fire. In 1923, Wackett retired from operations to study aircraft design, heading an agency known as the RAAF Experimental Station to produce aircraft in Australia. Wackett designed the Widgeon I and II flying-boat in 1924 as well as the Warragal I and II landplanes. In World War 2, he designed the Wirraway fighter, of which more than 700 units were produced. Later, a trainer for the Empire Air Training Scheme was designed and named after Wackett. Mustangs, Sabres and Mirages were produced under License at CAC in Melbourne. Wackett was knighted for his services to aviation and received the highest honour in the field, the Oswald Watt Gold Medal. A keen angler, he wrote two books about fishing, My Hobby is Trout Fishing (1946) and Studies of an Angler (1950) before he published Aircraft Pioneer: an Autobiography (1972).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Louis Kahan/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2017.85

Currently not on display

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Self portrait, 1949 Louis Kahan
Self portrait, 1949 Louis Kahan
Self portrait, 1949 Louis Kahan
Self portrait, 1949 Louis Kahan

A guy from Paris

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2018

Sarah Engledow on a foundational gallery figure who was quick on the draw.

Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie
Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie
Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie
Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie

Starry knight

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Aircraft designer, pilot and entrepreneur, Sir Lawrence Wackett rejoins friends and colleagues on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.