No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit RAAF

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No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit
114MCRUCrest.jpg
No. 114 MCRU's crest
Active 1943–1948
1949–1966
1968–current
Allegiance Australia
Branch Royal Australian Air Force
Role Air defence
Part of No. 41 Wing
Garrison/HQ RAAF Base Darwin
Motto Swift to React
Engagements

World War II

Malayan Emergency
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation
War in Afghanistan
Battle honours Pacific (1943–45)
New Britain (1943)
New Guinea (1943–44)
Borneo (1945)
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Gordon Steege (1943)

No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) radar surveillance and air defence unit. Located at RAAF Base Darwin, Northern Territory, it is controlled by No. 41 Wing, under Surveillance and Response Group.[1] Its role is to "prepare for, conduct and sustain effective deployable Air Surveillance and Air Battle Management in the Unit's designated area of responsibility".[2] The unit was formed during World War II, and deployed in the South West Pacific. Since the war it has seen service in the Malayan Emergency, the Konfrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia in the mid-1960s, and the War in Afghanistan.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Two men in light-coloured uniforms with a sign reading "Perth 5290, Adelaide 3507, Young & Jacksons Pub Melbourne 2990, Sydney 2472, Brisbane 1955, Townsville 1237"
RAAF personnel examine a sign at the entrance to No. 114 Fighter Control Unit headquarters on Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands, April 1944

No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit was formed as No. 14 (Mobile) Fighter Sector Headquarters at Camden, New South Wales, on 23 May 1943, under the command of Wing Commander Gordon Steege. The following month it deployed to Goodenough Island in New Guinea as part of No. 71 (Fighter) Wing, and became operational on 27 June.[3] It controlled two radar stations, No. 401 of the US Army Signal Corps and No. 305 of the RAAF.[4] On 8 August it moved to Kiriwina, under the aegis of No. 73 (Fighter) Wing. Steege relinquished command on 1 October to take charge of No. 73 Wing.[3][5]

Responsible for controlling anti-aircraft batteries and air-to-air interceptions of Japanese raiders, the unit was renamed No. 114 (Mobile) Fighter Sector on 18 October. It registered its first "kill" on the 31st, when it directed the interception of a Japanese "Tony" fighter by a No. 79 Squadron Spitfire north-east of Kiriwina.[3][4] On 2 March 1944, it began redeploying with No. 73 Wing from Goodenough to Los Negros Island.[3] Charged with coordinating air defence during the Admiralty Islands campaign, it was renamed No. 114 Mobile Fighter Control Unit (MFCU) five days later.[3][6] It became operational on 2 April, and controlled Nos. 337, 340, 345, 346 and 347 Radar Stations.[4]

In January 1945, No. 114 MFCU was withdrawn to Brisbane, where it began preparations to participate in the Australian-led liberation of Tarakan.[3] In April, with a complement of over 800 officers and men, and Nos. 167, 168, 308, 354 and 355 Radar Stations under its command, it embarked for Morotai in the Dutch East Indies. From there it departed for Tarakan, arriving with the main invasion force on 1 May.[4] Controlled by No. 78 (Fighter) Wing under the Australian First Tactical Air Force (No. 1 TAF), No. 114 MFCU became operational on the island four days after the landing.[3] In addition to its regular duties, it temporarily took responsibility for maintaining contact with No. 1 TAF headquarters on Morotai and US Army Air Forces commands in the Philippines, when equipment belonging to the RAAF's Mobile Telecommunications Unit failed to be unloaded at Tarakan before the departure of its transport ship.[7]

Cold War and after[edit]

No. 114 MFCU was rapidly reduced in size following the end of the war. It departed Tarakan for Australia on 3 December 1945 with No. 78 Wing, arriving at RAAF Station Deniliquin, New South Wales, on the 14th. Still under the wing's control, it relocated to RAAF Station Schofields on 31 May and then to RAAF Station Williamtown on 1 August, disbanding on 1 April 1948.[3] No. 114 MFCU was re-established under a newly organised No. 78 Wing on 24 January 1949—"in name only", however, as it remained non-operational.[3][8] It began training in late 1955 prior to anticipated reactivation, and was renamed No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit (MCRU) on 12 March 1956. It relocated to RAAF Dubbo and stood up as an independent unit on 14 November.[3]

Radar unit on truck
AN/TPS-77 radar of the type that currently equips No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit

No. 114 MCRU deployed to Malaya in 1958, becoming operational at RAAF Base Butterworth on 19 August. It took over responsibility for aerial surveillance and ground-controlled interception from the Royal Air Force's No. 487 Signals Unit on 1 December. From Butterworth, No. 114 MCRU directed the Sabre fighters of Nos. 3 and 77 Squadrons and the Canberra bombers of No. 2 Squadron in the last years of the Malayan Emergency.[3] It also sent controllers on attachment to Ubon Air Base in Thailand, where No. 79 Squadron was based from 1962.[3][9] On 3 September 1964, the unit went on to a 24-hour operational footing to support the Sidewinder-armed Sabres of Nos. 3 and 77 Squadrons during the Konfrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia, though no combat ensued.[3][10] Konfrontasi having been declared over in August 1966, No. 114 MCRU transferred its responsibilities to RAF Western Hill on 22 September, and disbanded at Butterworth on 31 October.[3]

The unit was reactivated again at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, on 1 April 1968, employing the Plessey "Hub Cap" automated air defence system, which utilised Westinghouse radar and Marconi computer programs.[3][11] It was to have moved directly from Butterworth to Amberley but delivery of the Hub Cap system, ordered in 1965, was delayed owing to programming issues. The system was also physically larger and heavier than had been anticipated, rendering it less easily transportable.[11][12] In 1979, No. 114 MCRU upgraded to the Westinghouse AN/TPS-43 radar system, improving both its mobility and its tactical capabilities. It inaugurated the RAAF's Tactical Air Defence System (TADS, subsequently Tactical Air Defence Radar System or TADRS) on 10 July 1985.[3][13] No. 114 MCRU was presented with a Squadron Standard on 23 May 1990, becoming the only non-flying unit in the Air Force to receive such an honour.[3][14] The standard displays battle honours for the Pacific (1943–45), New Britain (1943), New Guinea (1943–44) and Borneo (1945). No. 114 MCRU was transferred to RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, in May–June 1997, and then to RAAF Base Darwin in December 1999.[4] The AN/TPS-43 was retired in September 2005, and replaced by the AN/TPS-77 radar.[15] In May 2007, a detachment of 75 members of No. 114 MCRU deployed for active service at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan, utilising the AN/TPS-77 to coordinate coalition combat air operations.[16][17] The detachment returned to Australia in August 2009. No. 114 MCRU celebrated its 70th anniversary at Darwin on 23 May 2013.[14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Surveillance and Response Group". Royal Australian Air Force. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit". Royal Australian Air Force. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q RAAF Historical Section, Radar Units, pp. 131–137
  4. ^ a b c d e "No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit's History". Royal Australian Air Force. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Air Commodore Gordon Henry Steege". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Odgers, Air War Against Japan, pp. 173–176
  7. ^ Waters, Oboe, p. 44
  8. ^ No. 78 Wing Headquarters, "Operations Record Book", p. 160
  9. ^ Stephens, Going Solo, pp. 272–273
  10. ^ Stephens, The Royal Australian Air Force, pp. 251–252
  11. ^ a b Stephens, Soing Solo, pp. 353–354
  12. ^ Stephens, Soing Solo, p. 393
  13. ^ Lowe, Georgina (14 July 2005). "Tactical radar tested". Air Force, Vol. 47, No. 12. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Big day for proud unit". Air Force, Vol. 55, No. 9: p. 7. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Laura; Maika, Jaimee (22 September 2005). "Radar's last hurrah". Air Force, Vol. 47, No. 17. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit deploys to Afghanistan". Department of Defence. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Jamieson, Cameron (4 October 2007). "Kylie's in control". Air Force, Vol. 49, No. 18. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 

References[edit]