Truax Field Air National Guard Base
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (December 2012)|
|Part of Wisconsin Air National Guard (ANG)|
|Located at: Dane County Regional Airport, Wisconsin|
A four ship of F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard over Wisconsin's capital city of Madison October 18th, 2008. In flight lead is aircraft 87-278 with a unique tail flash that was designed to celebrate the unit's 60th Anniversary.
|Type||Air National Guard Base|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|Garrison||115th Fighter Wing|
Truax Field Air National Guard Base (also known as Truax Field), is a United States Air National Guard base, located at Dane County Regional Airport, Wisconsin. It is located 5.7 miles (9.2 km) northeast of Madison, Wisconsin.
Truax Field ANGB is the home of the Wisconsin Air National Guard 115th Fighter Wing (115 FW), equipped with the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It is operationally-gained by the Air Combat Command (ACC). In addition, Wisconsin Army National Guard units are stationed at the base.
Truax Field was named in honor of Wisconsin-native Lieutenant Thomas L. Truax, who was killed in a P-40 training accident in November 1941
Originally known as "Madison Army Airfield", Truax Field was activated as an Army Air Forces airfield in June 1942 during World War II. During the war it was used by the Army Air Force Eastern Technical Training Center, a major school operating at Truax AAF for training radio operators and mechanics, and later expanded to training in radar operations, control tower operations and other communications fields for the Army Airways Communication Service. A special unit established in 1943 trained radio operators and mechanics on B-29 Superfortress communications equipment. The host unit on the airfield was the 334th (later 3508th) Army Air Force Base Unit. On September 17, 1945, the airfield's mission was changed to that of a separation center, and it was closed as an active AAF airfield on November 30, 1945.
Truax Field was reactivated by the United States Air Force on 1 February 1951 using a right of return due to the Korean War. Federalized Wisconsin Air National Guard units were assigned to the base, placed under the jurisdiction of Air Defense Command (ADC) on 15 February 1951.
Initial USAF units assigned to Truax Field were the 128th Air Base Group, activated on 10 February 1951 to prepare the base for use, then the 128th Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 16 February with its operational 128th Fighter-Interceptor Group on 16 February. The F-51D Mustang-equipped 176th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was also activated at Truax that date. A second squadron, the 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron came on active duty on 10 April with F-80A Shooting Stars, being reassigned from General Mitchell Field near Milwaukee. These federalized ANG units were placed under the operational control of the ADC Central Air Defense Force (CADF).
During the tenure of the federalized Air National Guard units, Truax Field underwent a major improvement project to upgrade its World War II facilities and airfield to a permanent Air Force installation. A jet runway was constructed, along with permanent concrete block structures to replace the temporary World War II buildings on the station.
The ADC's 31st Air Division at Snelling AFS, Minnesota took control of Truax Field on 6 February 1952 from the CADF when the 128th FIW was returned to Wisconsin state control. The operational interceptor squadrons were relieved from active duty in November and December 1952 with the ADC 433d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and 432d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron replacing the guardsmen. In February 1953, the 520th Air Defense Group was activated at Truax Field to assume control over the interceptor squadrons, relieving the 31st AD. The 433d FIS was transferred to the Alaskan Air Command on 20 July 1954, being replaced on 8 August by the 456th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. By this time both the 432d and 456th FIS were flying the F-86D Sabre fighter-interceptor.
On 18 August 1955, ADC "Project Arrow" re-designated the 520th ADG to become the 327th Fighter Group (Air Defense). This project re-activated notable World War II combat units by re-designating postwar units. Under the 327th FG, the operational squadrons were also re-designated, the 432d FIS becoming the 323d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron; the 456th FIS becoming the 325th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
On 8 September 1955, the 37th Air Division was activated at Truax Field, taking command of the 327th FG. In addition to command of the interceptor units, the 37th AD operated a Manual Direction and Control Center (MDCC) for ADC interceptor units within its assigned area of parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. In December 1956, the 37th AD formed and activated the 639th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, a radar squadron which it reassigned to Lowther Air Station, Ontario as part of the Pinetree Line. The Division also began supervision of the construction of a SAGE radar Direction and Combat Center, programmed for activation in 1958.
The 323d FIS was transferred to Ernest Harmon AFB, Newfoundland on 1 October 1957. It was replaced by the 61st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. During the fall of 1957, the F-86Ds of the 327th Fighter Group were replaced by ADC with the new F-102A Delta Dagger interceptors. In 1960, budget reductions forced the inactivation of the 61st FIS, its F-102s being reassigned to other interceptor squadrons.
In 1958 a Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) Data Center (DC-07) and Combat Center (CC-02) was established at Truax Field, located about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) south of the ADC interceptor parking ramp.
The SAGE system was a network linking Air Force (and later FAA) General Surveillance Radar stations into a centralized center for Air Defense, intended to provide early warning and response for a Soviet nuclear attack. This automated control system was used by NORAD for tracking and intercepting enemy bomber aircraft. In the later versions the system could automatically direct aircraft to an interception by sending instructions directly to the aircraft's autopilot.
Command and Control of DC-07/CC-02 was initially under the Chicago Air Defense Sector (CHADS) which was activated under the 37d AD on 8 March 1957. CADS provided for the air defense of Illinois; Indiana; most of Iowa and northern Missouri. On 1 April 1959, the 30th Air Division replaced the 37th AD in an ADC realignment. The SAGE building held had two separate computers, the second serving as a "hot standby" in case the active computer failed. With this backup, availability was an unprecedented 99.6%, when many other computers from that era would fail every few hours.
The CHADS was inactivated 1 April 1966 and operation of the SAGE complex was taken over by the 20th Air Division, which was essentially a re designation of CADS. By 1967 the cost of operating the complex was extremely high and technology advances allowed the Air Force to shut down many SAGE Data Centers. DC-07/CC-02 was inactivated on 31 December.
By the late 1960s, the need for air defense against manned aircraft was diminishing with the perceived less threat of an aircraft attack by the Soviet Union. The 325th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was inactivated on 25 June 1966, its F-102s being sent to Air National Guard units at other bases. The SAGE DC-07/CC-02 blockhouse of the CHADS was inactivated on 31 December 1967 along with the 20th Air Division which was reassigned to Fort Lee AFS, Virginia.
Air Defense Command turned jurisdiction of most of Truax Field to the Wisconsin Air National Guard on 1 January 1968, a small weather detachment from the Air Weather Service (4th Weather Wing OL-4, Det 8), remained at the field until 31 January 1970 when it also was inactivated. Truax Field has operated as a joint military/civil airport ever since.
Today, Truax Field ANGB remains the home installation of the 115th Fighter Wing (115 FW), an Air National Guard unit operationally gained by the Air Combat Command (ACC), flying the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter aircraft. The 115 FW has two distinct missions. The Federal mission under Title 10 USC is to staff and train flying and support units to augment Air Combat Command general purpose fighter forces to effectively and rapidly project F-16 combat power anywhere in the world to perform wartime or peacetime missions as well as operations other than war. The 115 FW maintains mobilization readiness as part of the Air Reserve Component (ARC) and conducts training in support of Total Force capabilities as directed by the gaining command (i.e., ACC). The State mission under Title 32 USC is to provide trained and equipped units to protect life and property and to preserve peace, order, and public safety as directed by the Governor of Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin World War II Army Airfields
- List of USAF Aerospace Defense Command General Surveillance Radar Stations
- A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
- Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.
- Truax Field, WI
- Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).
- Air Force Historical Research Agency: 20th Air Division
- Air Force Historical Research Agency: 30th Air Division
- Air Force Historical Research Agency: 37th Air Division
- 115 Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard
- (PDF), effective November 14, 2013
- FAA Terminal Procedures for MSN, effective November 14, 2013
- Resources for this U.S. military airport: