Army Air Forces in Europe

world war II

20th Fighter Group

8th Air Force 20th FG

The Loco Busters

Squadrons of the 20th FG

55th Fighter Squadron: KI
77th Fighter Squadron: LC
79th Fighter Squadron: MC

Assigned 8th AAF: 25 Aug 1943

Wing/Command Assignment

VIII FC 25 Aug 1943
VIII FC, 67 FW 6 Oct 1943
1 BD, 67 FW 15 Sep 1944
1 AD, 67 FW 1 Jan 1945

Combat Aircraft:

P-38H, P-38J 28 Dec 1943 to 21 Jul 1944
P-51C, P-51D from 20 Jul 1944
P-51K Dec 1944


KINGS CLIFFE 26 Aug 1943 to 11 Oct 1945

Group COs

Col Barton M. Russell 20 Aug 1943 to 2 Mar 1944
Lt. Col Mark E. Hubbard 2 Mar 1944 to 18 Mar 1944
Lt. Col Harold J. Rau 20 Mar 1944 to 25 Jun 1944
Lt. Col. Cy Wilson 25 Jun 1944 to 27 Aug 1944
Col. Harold J. Rau 27 Aug 1944 to 18 Dec 1944
Col. Robert P. Montgomery 18 Dec 1944 to 3 Oct 1945
Lt. Col. William E. Becker Sep 1945 to Nov 1945

First Mission: 28 Dec 1943
Last Mission: 25 Apr 1945
Total missions: 312
Aircraft MIA: 132

Claims: Air 212 Ground 237.

Major Awards:

Distinguished Unit Citation: 8 April 1944 for sweep over Germany

Unit Claims to Fame

Oldest USAAF group to be assigned to the 8th AF for extended period of time.
Best P-51 maintenance record of any 8th AF group for latter months of the war.

Early History:

Though the roots of the Squadrons went back to World War I, The group was activated on the 15th of November 1930 at Mather field, California as the 20th Pursuit Group then moved to Barksdale Field La. late in 1932 and based there unit late in 1939. Equipped successively with P-12, P-26s and P-36 aircraft. The unit moved back to California in November 1939 and equipped with P-39 and later with P-40s. The unit then moved to North Carolina in 1942 and then to Paine Field, Washington, later that year. It served as a training ground for new groups forming rapidly. Established at March Field, California in January 1943 and equipped with P-38s. It also served as part of the air defense structure on the west coast before shipping out to England. First scheduled for service with the 8th Air Force in January 1942 but not ordered overseas until August 1943. The unit then departed March Field on the 11th August 1943 and sailed on the Queen Elizabeth on the 20 August 1943, arriving in Clyde on the 25th of August 1943. Although assigned to bomber escort duties, the 20th also took on fighter-bomber roles beginning in March of 1944. After this time activities were almost evenly divided between the two types of missions. The many successful attacks on rail transportation by the Group gave a rise to its nick-name: "The Loco Busters".

Subsequent History:

After the war the group gradually ran down, many personnel were transferred and the aircraft flown to depots for disposal. Remainder in the United Kingdom until October 1945. Then the remainder of the unit sailed on the Queen Mary from Southhampton on the 11th October 1945 to New York arriving on the 16th of October 1945. The unit was again activated in July 1946 with P-51s and later with F-84s. The group than moved to Wethers field in the United Kingdom in 1952 and converted to F-100s.