491 (Maintenance) Squadron RAAF

Although 77 Squadron was the best known RAAF unit that served in the Korean War, it was not the only one. Working closely with 391 (Base) Squadron, 491 (Maintenance) Squadron maintained, repaired, and, if necessary, replaced RAAF aircraft. Both 491 and 391 played a vital role in supporting 77 Squadron and 30 Unit ground crew by performing more complex maintenance operations. In October 1950 all RAAF units attached to the United Nations (UN) Command in Korea were regrouped into 91 (Composite) Wing. With the exception of 77 Squadron, which flew combat missions, the wing’s other squadrons were based at Iwakuni, Japan.

The official historian of Australia’s involvement in the Korean War, Robert O’Neill, considered that the level of technical support achieved by the RAAF in Korea and Japan was “outstanding”. Maintenance crews often worked up to 16 hours per day, achieving close to 100 per cent serviceability for the Mustangs and Meteors which allowed 77 Squadron to have a much great effect than a single US squadron.

491 Squadron used Japanese civilian technicians for maintenance. These technicians had been highly skilled workers during the Second World War, but during the occupation were employed as cleaners or in other unskilled jobs. The Japanese were pleased to again work on aircraft and willingly worked long hours.

In 1953, after the armistice had been in force long enough to show it’s effectiveness, the size of the Commonwealth forces in Korea were considerably reduced. Most RAAF units returned to Australin in late 1954 and early 1955. 391 Squadron was disbanded at Iwakuni on 13 December 1954.

Glossary

Equipment

Battle Honours

  • nil

Casualties

  • nil

For more information please see the Roll of Honour and Korean War Nominal Roll (external website) databases.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • 1 OBE
  • 3 MBE
  • 27 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

References

  • AWM64/6/10: Unit history sheets, 91 Composite Wing RAAF
  • O'Neill, Robert J. (Robert John), 1936-, Official History, Korea Vol.II: Australia in the Korean War 1950-53. Volume 2, Combat operations, (Canberra : Australian War Memorial and the Australian Govt. Pub. Service, 1985)
  • Stephens, Alan, The Australian centenary history of defence Vol. 2, The Royal Australian Air Force, (Melbourne : Oxford University Press, 2001)