20th Fighter Group (USAAF)

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History

The 20th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a fighter unit that served with the Eighth Air Force from late in 1943 to the end of the war in Europe, flying a mix of bomber escort, and ground attack missions.

The group had been activated as the 20th Pursuit Group in 1930, and had used a series of pre-war fighters, from the P-12 to the P-36. At the start of the Second World War the group was equipped with the Bell P-39 Airacobra and the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. After the outbreak of war the group was used to train new groups in the expanding Air Force.

The group was one of the first to be assigned to the Eighth Air Force, and was part of the new organisation by 8 January 1942, but it would take nearly two years for it to enter combat from England. The early part of 1942 was spent on air defence duties in the US, while its long range P-38s didn't arrive until January 1943. The group finally began to prepare to move overseas late in 1942, and crossed the Atlantic in August 1943.

The group began combat operations in December 1943, at a time when the Eighth Air Force desperately needed long range fighters (all of its original P-38 groups had gone to North Africa for Operation Torch). The group's first role was as fighter escort for the Eighth Air Forces heavy and medium bomber groups, a role it continued to perform until the end of the war.

From March 1944 the group added fighter-bomber duties to its tasks. It became known as the 'Loco Group' because of its successful attacks on railways, but it also hit German military positions and other transport links.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions on 8 August 1944, when it attacked German airfields, defeated a fighter attack and then attacked a range of other targets in Germany.

During the D-Day invasion the group flew patrols to cover the invasion area, taking advantage of the P-38s long range. After D-Day it escorted bombers operating over France and also carried out its own attacks on targets near the beaches.

In July 1944 the group converted to the P-51 Mustang. It continued to fly a mix of long range bomber escort and fighter-bomber missions for the rest of the war. It took part in Operation Market Garden in September 1944, the Battle of the Bulge of December 1944-January 1945 and the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945.

The group returned to the United States in October and was inactivated on 18 October 1945.

Books

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Aircraft

to 1943: P-36, P-40, Bell P-39 Airacobra
January 1943-July 1944: Lockheed P-38 Lightning
July 1944 onwards: North American P-51 Mustang

Timeline

18 October 1927 Authorized on inactive list at 20th Balloon Group
1929 Redesignated 20th Pursuit Group
15 November 1930 Activated
1939 Redesignated 20th Pursuit Group (Fighter)
1941 Redesignated 20th Pursuit Group (Interceptor)
May 1942 Redesignated 20th Fighter Group
January 1943 Converted to P-38
August 1943 To England and Eighth Air Force
December 1943 Entered combat
July 1944 Converted to P-51
October 1945 To United States
18 October 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Maj Clarence L Tinker: c. 15 Nov 1930
Capt Thomas Boland: c. 14 Oct 1932
Lt Col Millard F Harmon: c. 31 Oct 1932-unkn
Maj Armin F Herold: c. 7 Oct 1936-unkn
Lt Col Ross G Hoyt: 1937
Col Ira C Eaker: c. 16 Jan 1941
Maj Jesse Auton: c. 1 Sep 1941
Maj Hamer A Boushey: Jan 1942
Lt Col Edward W Anderson: c.9 Mar 1942
Lt Col Jesse Auton: Aug 1942-unkn
Col Barton M Russell: 1943
Lt Col Mark E Hubbard: 2 Mar 1944
Maj Herbert E Johnson Jr: 19 Mar 1944
Lt Col Harold J Rau: 20 Mar 1944
Lt Col Cy Wilson: Jun 1944
Col Harold J Rau: 27 Aug 1944
Col Robert P Montgomery: 18 Dec 1944
Maj Jack C Price: 3 Oct 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

Mather Field, Calif: 15 Nov 1930
Barksdale Field, La: Oct 1932
Moffett Field, Calif: Nov 1939
Hamilton Field, Calif: Sep 1940
Wilmington, NC: c. 2 Feb. 1942
Morris Field, NC: Apr 1942
Paine Field, Wash: Sep 1942
March Field, Calif: Jan-c. 11 Aug 1943
Kings Cliffe, England: c. 26 Aug 1943-c. 11 Oct 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ: c. 16-18 Oct 1945

Component Units (1939-45)

55th Fighter Squadron: 1932-45
77th Fighter Squadron: 1932-45
79th Fighter Squadron: 1933-45

Assigned To

1931-33: IX Bomber Command
1932-39: 3rd Bombardment Wing
1939-1941: 1st Wing/ 1st Bombardment Wing
1940-1941?: 10th Fighter Wing
1943: Los Angeles Fighter Wing; IV Fighter Command; Fourth Air Force
1943-September 1944: 67th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
September 1944-1945: 67th Fighter Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 June 2014), 20th Fighter Group , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/20th_Fighter_Group.html

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