The first predecessor of the squadron was the 420th Bombardment Squadron which served as a heavy bomber operational and replacement training unit from 1942 until the spring of 1944 when it was inactivated in a general reorganization of United States Army Air Forces training units.
The 420th reformed as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit four months later. It partly deployed to the Pacific, but the Japanese surrender took place before the air echelon deployed and the squadron was inactivated once the ground echelon returned to the United States.
420th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 27 January 1943)
B-24 of a US-based training unit
The 30th Reconnaissance Squadron was constituted in early 1942 as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator reconnaissance unit, but its mission changed to bombardment and it was redesignated the 420th Bombardment Squadron before it was activated at Geiger Field, Washington in June 1942. It became a heavy bomber operational training unit (OTU) as one of the four squadrons of the 302d Bombardment Group, which served with a training wing of Second Air Force. The OTU program involved the use of an oversized parent unit to provide cadres to "satellite groups." The 420th later became a replacement training unit (RTU) for deployed combat units. RTUs were oversized units that trained individual pilots or aircrews for units already deployed overseas. At the end of 1943 the squadron moved east with its group headquarters, where it became an element of First Air Force. However, the United States Army Air Forces found that standard military units, based on relatively inflexible tables of organization were proving less well adapted to the training mission. Accordingly, a more functional system was adopted in which each base was organized into a separate numbered unit. Accordingly, the unit was inactivated in April 1944 and its personnel transferred to the 114th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Bombardment, Heavy).
Boeing B-29 bomber
The squadron became a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadron in August 1944 and was activated again in September 1944 at Dalhart Army Air Field as one of the three squadrons of the 382d Bombardment Group. The squadron again trained with Second Air Force. Training was considerably delayed due to equipment shortages. The unit did not begin combat training with B-29s until March 1945. The ground echelon deployed to Northern Mariana Islands by ship in early August 1945 but the air echelon remained behind until after the Japanese surrender. The ground echelon remained in the Marianas supporting other units' aircraft. The ground echelon returned to the Port of Embarkation in December 1945 and the unit inactivated in early January 1946.
The squadron deployed aircraft and crews to Alaska to support Operation Chrome Dome airborne alert missions. The squadron also supported SAC reconnaissance operations in Europe. In February 1963, The 379th Bombardment Wing assumed the aircraft, personnel and equipment of the discontinued 4026th wing. The 4026th was a Major Command controlled (MAJCON) wing, which could not carry a permanent history or lineage, and SAC wanted to replace it with a permanent unit. The 920th was transferred to the newly activated 379th wing.
Craven, Wesley F & Cate, James L, ed. (1955). The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. LCCN48003657.
Goss, William A (1955). "The Organization and its Responsibilities, Chapter 2 The AAF". In Craven, Wesley F & Cate, James L. The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. 75. LCCN48003657.