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Racal MA-4450 (MEROD)
Message Entry and Read-Out Device

The MA-4450 was a Message Entry and Read-Out Device (MEROD) developed by Racal COMSEC in Salisbury (UK). It was intended for sending encrypted messages in burst mode over a radio link, and was therefore often used by Special Forces (SF) in combination with a manpack radio.
 
The image on the right shows a typical MA-4450 unit with the optional illumination lid opened. It has a rather large LCD screen at the top and a keyboard with 51 rubber keys below it. The keyboard consists of the usual alphanumerical keys (0-9 and A-Z) with the common QWERTY layout. At the top row are 7 function keys. At the bottom is the space bar and two large keys for left and right.

The MA-4450 is also known as a Tactical Data-Entry Device (TDED) or by its National Stock Number (NSN) 5811-99-722-5579.
  
Operating the MA-4450

All connections are at the rear of the unit. There are 4 sockets for RADIO, HANDSET, PRINTER and a REMOTE port. Each socket accepts a different type of connector, so that mistakes are avoided. Power is supplied to the MA-4450 via the REM-PORT. When the optional illumination lid is fitted, it takes its power from the PRINTER socket, to which it is connected by means of a short lead.
 
For use in the field, and in particular by special forces, the MEROD would generally be pcked inside a nylon 'raincoat' or carrying pouch, such as the one shown in the image on the right. It allows the device to be carried at the sholder or to be attached to the webbing. The MEROD can be operated from within the pouch and various pockets for the ancillaries and cables are present. Further images below.

A small junction box is used to connected the device (TDED) to the radio and a suitable DC power source. This junction box can be installed in one of the pockets of the pouch.
  
MEROD MA-4450 in carrying pouch, with lid open

 
MA-4450 in carrying pouch MA-4450 with closed lighting panel (lid) MA-4450 ready for use Operating the MA-4450 Junction box The junction box inside the carrying pouch Junction box with cables MA-4450 ready for use MEROD MA-4450 in carrying pouch
MEROD in nylon carrying pouch Closing the velcro edges of the carrying pouch MA-4450 rear view MA-4450 rear view with lighting panel connected Front view of MA-4450 MEROD unit with open lid Frontal view of a MEROD unit Close-up of an LED in the optional illumination lid

 
Dutch Special Forces
During the 1980s MEROD devices, such as the MA-4450, were used by Dutch Special Forces (104 Waarnemings- en Verkenningscompagnie) for operations behind enemy lines, in many cases combined with a manpack radio set, such as the AEG Telefunken SE-6861 (Dutch: LAPR).
 
The image on the right [2] shows Dutch Special Forces (Commando's) using a MEROD device in an underground hideout. At the top right is the SE-6861 radio set. In the Netherlands this radio was commonly known as LAPR (Lange Afstands Ploeg Radio, Long Distance Group Radio) or its designator KL/TRC-5151.

The MEROD device itself was known in The Netherlands as DBA (Digitaal Berichten Apparaat, Digital Message Device). It was also used at the other end of the communication link, e.g. in a (mobile) command center [2].
  
Dutch Special Forces using MEROD in the field

The MA-4450 was also used in combination with the MA-4420 MEROD base station. It allowed messages to be (pre)recorded, stored and printed, and could be controlled by a computer.
 
Dutch Special Forces using MEROD in the field Dutch special forces using MEROD in a command center Racal MA-4420 MEROD Base Station

 
References
  1. Racal, MA-4450 Operators Handbook
    Tactical Data-Entry Device (TDED) MA 4450 Version 1.
    TH 8426, Issue 1, April 1987.

  2. Anonymous source, Images of Dutch Special Forces using MEROD
    Photographs reproduced here with permission from the owner. March 2012.

  3. Racal-Comsec, MEROD - Message Entry and Read Out Device
    4-page full-colour brochure of the MEROD terminal. Date unknown.

Further information

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