Tag Archives: nose art

Benko and The Goon

(U.S. Air Force Number 53334AC). National Archives Identifier 204829567.

Official caption:

Chengkung, China, copied 8/8/44 308th B.G. The crew of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Goon”. Left to right, back row: T/Sgt. Archie L. Fleharty, Cozad Neb; Capt. Samuel J. Skousen, Thatcher, Ariz; T/Sgt. Robert M. Kirk, Alpha, Ill; T/Sgt. Arthur J. Benko, Bisbee, Ariz; (now missing in action) S/Sgt Casper J. Chirielseisen, Washington D.C.; and T/Sgt. William Novak, Pueblo, Colo. Left to right, front row: 1st LT Malcolm S. Sanders, Madison, Wisc.,(now missing in action); 1st LT Daniel J. Palmer; 1st LT Ralph E. Bower, Columbia, S.C.; Capt. James J. Lichtenfels, Cincinnatti, Ohio; Maj. Robert F. Burnett, Buttonwillow, Calif.

Although the above is dated 1944, it was taken in late 1943. Goon was B-24D-20-CO Liberator s/n 41-24183
374th BS, 308th BG, 14th AF. The bomber was a functional loss on 14 November 1943 after a mission to bomb Hong Kong from 14th Air Force/KMT bases in Eastern China. Three of the crew stayed with the plane and managed to get it to the base at Kweilin, China. Five of the seven who bailed out were returned to duty and two were listed as missing (Sanders, Goon’s Bombardier, and Benko, Gunner/Asst. Engineer) were killed.

Pulled from bombing duties and disarmed, Goon was later used by the 1330th Army Air Force Base Unit as a transport in the CBI but was later lost in an accident in 1946, taking her four-man crew down with her into the Philippine Sea.

Of note, T/Sgt. Benko, was the highest USAAF gunnery “ace,” being credited with swatting no less than 16 Japanese aircraft out of the sky with his twin 50s including 7 of 29 Japanese Zeros in an aerial duel over Haiphong, on Halloween 1943.

The plane, along with Benko, was made famous in a January 1944 National Geographic, although at the time he was most likely already passed.

As detailed in Chennault’s Forgotten Warriors

An item of pride for the 308th was having the top gunner in all the air forces during World War II.   He was T/Sgt Arthur J. Benko of Bisbee, Arizona. A full-blooded Indian, he was Arizona skeet and rifle champion in 1939-40. He was a top turret gunner on the Goon.”
 
“Art belted his own ammunition, removing all tracers. He did this for two reasons; (1) He didn’t want the enemy to know he was being shot at; (2) tracer fire gave a false trajectory by losing weight as it burns in flight.”
 
“There was some skepticism at group headquarters as Benko’s score mounted so they sent an intelligence officer on one mission. Art sent seven Japs down that day and made a believer out of the officer.”
 
“Art’s record stood at 16 confirmed victories. Then homeward bound from a Hong Kong mission with one engine out and one faltering, the pilot, Sam Skousen, hit the bailout button so that maybe the plane could clear a mountain range. Benko and Lt. Malcolm S. Sanders landed on the Jap side of the river and were captured. Later, a Catholic missionary sent the Air Force photographs of their crucifixion.”

Green with envy

An F-16A/B “Netz” fighter aircraft (Hawk) aircraft with its kill markings. Besides all of the Syrian MiGs, note the green “kill” for participation in the Operation Opera/Babylon attack on Osirak nuke reactor. Many of the aircraft that participated in the historic 1981 raid are showing their age and are up for sale.

The IDF still flies 100 improved F-16I “Sufa” and about 130 F-16C/D “Barak-2020” and will likely continue to do so for some decades.

No Antidote

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“No Antidote” a B1B Lancer (aka BONE) bomber of the “Bats” of the 9th Bomb Squadron (9 BS ,7th Operations Group, Air Combat Command, stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The 9BS is the oldest bombing squadron in the U.S. military, being formed in 1917 from the 9th Aero Squadron. Back in WWI they flew French Breguet 14 B.2 bombers in the tail end of that war on night attack missions over German lines, hence the searchlights on the unit patch and the “Bats” title. There are only 62 operational B-1’s left of the 104 airframes produced. The youngest of these conventional bombers is 26 years old and is expected to serve through 2030.

Pu$$y Galore (possibly NSFW)

The Pussy Galore was a short lived but legendary F-105D marking. Originally conceived as a joke  on KC-135 tanker crews who had trouble hooking up their fueling booms, it became a welcome morale booster for tanker crews. The original Pussy Galore was painted over and later shot down in 1967. The Pussy Galore II marking was used between Oct 1966 and Dec 1966 by Capt. Victor Vizcarra till an uptight USAF senior officer decided that putting naked women markings on his unit aircraft was a no-no.

pussy galore