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20th Operations Group
20 OG.jpg
Emblem of the 20th Operations Group
Active 1930-1945; 1946-1955; 1992-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
General Dynamics F-16CJ Block 50D (91-0380) of the 55th Fighter Squadron returns to the parking ramp after another local training mission
F-16CJ Block 50C (91-0347) from the 77th Fighter Squadron in flight
An 77th Fighter squadron F-16 pilot assigned to the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing, prepares for takeoff before a mission from a forward-deployed location in Southwest Asia on March 27, 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 20th Operations Group (20 OG) is a component of the 20th Fighter Wing, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Combat Command. The group is stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

The 20th Operations Group is a successor organization of the 20th Pursuit Group, one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the Army before World War II.

During World War II the 20th Fighter Group was an Eighth Air Force fighter unit stationed in England. Assigned to RAF Kings Cliffe in 1943. It was oldest USAAF group to be assigned to the Eighth Air Force for extended period of time, flying 312 combat missions. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for a sweep over Germany on 8 April 1944.



The 20th Operations Group is the flying component of the 20th Fighter Wing. The unit employs approximately 80 F-16CJ fighter aircraft in a mission-ready, multi-role capability to mobilize, deploy and tactically employ forces worldwide for any contingency in support of U.S. national objectives. They are responsible for providing the people and resources necessary for conventional air-to-surface, air superiority, suppression of enemy air defenses, destruction of enemy air defenses and maritime operations.

Assigned units

The 20th OG flies the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon. Its tail code is "SW", and consists of the following squadrons:

Organized on 9 August 1917. The “Fighting Fifty-fifth” has been awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, World War I Theater of Operations and World War II American Service Streamers, Air Combat European, Africa, Middle Eastern, Air Offensive Europe, and the Liberation and Defense of Kuwait Campaign Streamers.
Organized on 20 February 1918. In February 2003, the squadron deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
First activated in February 1918. In June 1999, the 79th deployed F-16CJs in support of Operation Allied Force to a bare base in Southwest Asia.
  • 20th Operations Support Squadron, “Mustangs”
First organized on 25 January 1943, as the 20th Airdrome Squadron. The squadron is responsible for all airfield activities and associated support of the 20th Fighter Group's fighter missions.


For additional history and lineage, see 20th Fighter Wing


  • Authorized as 20 Balloon Group on 18 Oct 1927
Redesignated 20 Pursuit Group on 30 Jun 1929
Activated on 15 Nov 1930
Redesignated: 20 Pursuit Group (Fighter) on 6 Dec 1939
Redesignated: 20 Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 12 Mar 1941
Redesignated: 20 Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Redesignated: 20 Fighter Group (Twin Engine) on 30 Dec 1942
Inactivated on 18 Oct 1945
  • Activated on 29 Jul 1946
Redesignated: 20 Fighter-Bomber Group on 20 Jan 1950
Inactivated on 8 Feb 1955
  • Redesignated: 20 Tactical Fighter Group on 31 Jul 1985 (Remained inactive)
  • Redesignated: 20 Operations Group on 1 Mar 1992
Activated on 31 Mar 1992
Inactivated on 1 Jan 1994
  • Activated on 1 Jan 1994.


Attached to: Third Air Force, c. Feb-Sep 1942
Attached to: Seattle Air Defense Wing, 28 Oct 1942-unkn
Attached to: 1st Bombardment (later Air) Division, 15 Sep 1944-11 Oct 1945
Attached to: 3d Air Division, Jul-Dec 1950
Attached to: Tactical Air Division, Provisional, 25 Apr-10 Oct 1951


World War II fuselage code: KI
World War II fuselage code: LC
World War II fuselage code: MC



  • P-12, 1930-1935
  • DH-4, 1931
  • P-26, 1934-1938
  • P-36, 1938-1940
  • P-40, 1940-1942
  • P-39, 1942-1943
  • P-38, 1943-1944
  • P-51, 1944-1945; 1946-1948
  • P-84 (later, F-84), 1948-1957
  • F-100, 1957-1970
  • F-111, 1970-1993
  • EF-111, 1992
  • A/OA-10, 1994-1996
  • F-16, 1994-Present

Operational History


P-26As of the 20th Pursuit Group, 13 May 1938.
20th Pursuit Group P-36s, Moffett Field, California, 1939

The 20th Balloon Group was authorized as an inactive element of the Department of the Army Air Arm on 18 October 1917. It was redesignated as the 20th Pursuit Group in 1929 and activated on 15 November 1930 at Mather Field, California and consisted of the 71st Service Squadron (the administrative and support element of the group) and initially two flying squadrons:

The 20th flew Boeing P-12 single-seat, biplane fighters featured two .30 caliber machine guns, an open cockpit, a 500 horsepower (370 kW) Pratt and Whitney engine, and a top speed of 180 miles per hour.

The Group remained at Mather Field for a little less than two years until 15 October 1932, after which it relocated to Barksdale Field, Louisiana. Just prior to its transfer to Barksdale, the group was assigned, along with the 3rd Attack Group, to the 3rd Attack Wing in June 1932. The 3rd Attack Wing and Group operated out of Fort Crockett, Texas.

By February 1933 when Barksdale Field was formally dedicated, the group's training program was in full operation. Its aerial training mission focused on the development of procedures and techniques for engaging enemy aircraft and provided for the protection of vital industrial centers, airdromes, and bombardment aircraft.

In October 1934, the group (by then four flying squadrons strong) made its first aircraft transition—from the P-12 to the Boeing P-26 Peashooter. This open cockpit monoplane had a 600 horsepower (450 kW) engine and a top speed of 253 miles per hour. Like the P-12, it possessed two .30 caliber machine guns. Unlike its predecessor, it also featured wing-mounted bomb racks. The 20th Pursuit Group acquired its first aircraft with a closed cockpit, the Curbs P-36 Mohawk, in September 1938. The P-36 had a 1,050 horsepower (780 kW) engine, and a top speed of 303 miles per hour. It could carry up to 400 pounds of bombs on its undercarriage. During this time, the 20th began training, participating in maneuvers and tactical exercises, and conducting aerial reviews and aircraft demonstrations.

On 15 November 1939 the 20th moved to Moffett Field, California, stayed there less than one year, and moved again on 9 September 1940 to Hamilton Field, also in California. At Hamilton the group changed aircraft once again, this time to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. This was the top of the line pre-World War II pursuit fighter. It had a range of 750 miles (1,210 km), a top speed of 343 miles per hour, two .50 caliber machine guns in the nose, and four .50 caliber machine guns in the wings.

Several events in 1941 marked the group's assignment at Hamilton Field. Deployed flights spent the first part of 1941 at Muroc Lake, California, and Esler Field, Louisiana, conducting maneuvers. In October 1941, the group split into its component squadrons and deployed to various locations on the east coast, with group headquarters temporarily established at Morris Field, North Carolina. In December 1941, the 20th reassembled at Hamilton Field, California.

World War II

Emblem of the 20th Fighter Group
Lockheed P-38J Lightning 42-67651 (MC-Z) of the 79th Fighter Squadron.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang Serial 44-72519 (LC-D) "Grumpy" of the 77th Fighter Squadron, flown by Col. Robert P. Montgomery, 20th FG Commander (18 Dec 1944-3 Oct 1945). Col. Montgomery was credited with 3 1/2 air victories and 3 on the ground. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross 2 Nov. 1944 for leading group on an escort mission to Merseberg and willfully selecting the more hazardous of two acceptable and honorable courses of action, to wit: Leading the group into a gaggle of 250 Me-109s. A furious battle took place from 27,000 ft. to the deck. Col. Montgomery received the Distinguished Service Cross for leading this mission.
F-84Gs of the 77th Fighter-Bomber Squadron - 1952. Republic F-84G-1-RE Thunderjet Serial 51-988 is in the foreground.
20th Operations group F-111s making one last flyover of RAF Upper Heyford, England, 15 December 1993 upon their departure from the base.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, served as an air defense organization. An operational training unit early in 1942, but by the end of the year the group began intensive training for overseas combat duty.

Deployed to England in August 1943, being assigned to VIII Fighter Command. The group was under the command of the 67th Fighter Wing. Aircraft of the 20th were identified by a black/white stripes along their cowlings and tails.

The 20th FG entered combat with P-38's late in December 1943 and for several months was engaged primarily in escorting heavy and medium bombers to targets on the Continent. The group frequently strafed targets of opportunity while on escort missions.

The group retained escort as its primary function until the end of the war, but in March 1944 began to fly fighter-bomber missions, which became almost as frequent as escort operations. The squadrons strafed and dive-bombed airfields, trains, vehicles, barges, tugs, bridges, flak positions, gun emplacements, barracks, radio stations, and other targets in France, Belgium, and Germany.

The 20th became known as the "Loco Group" because of its numerous and successful attacks on locomotives. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance on 8 April 1944 when the group struck airfields in central Germany and then, after breaking up an attack by enemy interceptors, proceeded to hit railroad equipment, oil facilities, power plants, factories, and other targets.

Aircraft from the 20th flew patrols over the English Channel during the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, and supported the invasion force later that month by escorting bombers that struck interdictory targets in France, Belgium, and Holland, and by attacking troops, transportation targets, and airfields.

The 20th FG converted to P-51s in July 1944 and continued to fly escort and fighter-bomber missions as the enemy retreated across France to the Siegfried Line. The group participated in the airborne attack on Holland in September 1944, and escorted bombers to Germany and struck rail lines, trains, vehicles, barges, power stations, and other targets in and beyond the Siegfried Line during the period October-December 1944.

The unit took part in the Battle of the Bulge by escorting bombers to the battle area. Flew patrols to support the airborne attack across the Rhine in March 1945, and carried out escort and fighter-bomber missions as enemy resistance collapsed in April.

The 20th Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and was deactivated on 18 Dec 1945.

Cold War

On 29 July 1946 the 20th was reactivated Biggs Field, Texas. The group took part in training exercises and flight demonstrations and ferried aircraft within the United States. In October 1946, the group relocated to Shaw Field, South Carolina, where it was assigned under the 20th Fighter Wing on 15 August 1947 as a Ninth Air Force unit.

The 20th Fighter Group was first equipped with North American P-51D, then exchanged its P-51's in February 1948 for F-84B (later D) Thunderjets. Two days later, on 26 August 1948, the wing's 20th Airdrome Group was discontinued and its elements became realigned under the 20th Air Base Group. The 20th provided P-51 training for Turkish officers, February - April 1948.

Control over the wing changed hands on 1 February 1949 with its assignment to Fourteenth Air Force. Control was swapped back to Tactical Air Command on 1 December 1951, just after the unit's relocation from Shaw to Langley AFB, Virginia. At Langley, the group began flying new Republic F-84Gs in addition to F-84Ds.

From Jul-Dec 1950, deployed to England to support the Strategic Air Command's 3 Air Division as a result of the Cold War threat of the Soviet Union. Assigned to RAF Wethersfield, restricted space at Wethersfield compelled the 79th Squadron to move initially to RAF Bentwaters on 6 June 1952, then to RAF Woodbridge, three miles southeast of Bentwaters.

The 20th's F-84Gs were specially equipped to carry small nuclear bombs and were designed, if necessary to deliver these weapons on Soviet forces if they invaded West Germany. Not manned, Nov 1952-Feb 1955, during which period tactical squadrons were attached directly to the wing as the Air Force reorganized its wings into the tri-deputate system.

Modern era

The group was reactivated in on 1 Mar 1992 as the 20th Operations Group and assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing. It was activated on 31 Mar 1992. The 20th OG was the operational component of the wing under the new "Objective Wing" concept adapted by the Air Force, and was bestowed the history and honors of the 20th Fighter-Bomber Group. The group was relieved of electronic combat mission on 1 Jul 1992.

Inactivated along with the wing upon the closure of RAF Upper Heyford on 1 Jan 1994, the group was reactivated at Shaw AFB, South Carolina the same day, absorbing the personnel and equipment of the 363d Operations Group. This reassignment was part of a service-wide effort to preserve the lineage of the Air Force’s most honored wings. The 78th Fighter Squadron activated on that day to join the wing, after having last been assigned to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters, UK.

The squadron was inactivated once again on June 30, 2003, as part of the Air Force’s FY 2003 force structure changes, leaving Shaw with three F-16CJ squadrons.

The 20th provided forces in April 1999 for North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Operation Allied Force in the European theater. A Shaw pilot deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy, during the conflict shot down an enemy MiG-29.

For 10 years, the 20th FW and its F-16CJ squadrons flew contingency rotations in support of Operations Northern and Southern Watch. In 1999 the wing sent elements to take part in the Air War Over Serbia (Yugoslavia).

The wing also flew combat air patrols in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In February 2003, Shaw deployed approximately 1,300 servicemembers and 15 aircraft in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Operations Northern and Southern Watch successfully culminated with the advent of hostilities in Iraq.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Air Force Historical Research Agency, 20th Operations Group
  • Maurer, Maurer, Air Force Combat Units of World War II, Office of Air Force history (1961). ISBN 0-40512-194-6
  • Maurer, Maurer, Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Office of Air Force history (1982). ISBN 0-8317-1501-4
  • 20th Fighter Group
  • 20th Fighter Group
  • USAF Aircraft Serial Number Search
  • Menard, David W. USAF Plus Fifteen - A Photo History 1947-1962. Schiffer Military Books, 1993. ISBN 0-88740-483-9.
  • Money, Barry and Ann Money. The Warlords, volume 1: The 4th, 20th and 55th Fighter Groups. Flight Recorder Publications, 2006. ISBN 0-95456-051-5.
  • Freeman, Roger A. Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle, 1978. ISBN 0-90091-309-6.
  • Freeman, Roger A. UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now. After the Battle, 1994. ISBN 0-90091-380-0.
  • MacKay, Ron. 20th Fighter Group. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1996. ISBN 0-89747-368-X.

External links


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