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The Goon and T/Sgt. Arthur Benko

B-24D Liberator and Zero 3D model

Gallery Article by Konley Kelley

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T/Sgt. Arthur Benko sitting atop "The Goon" next to the top turret

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The B-24D Liberator “The Goon” was a well-known bomber in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater in the Pacific War. This was due in a large part to a photo of its nose art appearing in an issue of National Geographic magazine. 

What made “The Goon” even more famous and the pride of the 308th BG was its top turret gunner, T/Sgt. Arthur Benko. Benko is officially credited with 18 Japanese aircraft shot down. His deadly aim was forged as a skeet and rifle champion in Arizona before the war. 

 

Click on images below to see larger images

"The Goon" crew with T/Sgt. Arthur Benko next to the top turret

Some were skeptical asT/Sgt. Benko’s score mounted so an intelligence officer boarded “The Goon” on a mission to see for himself. On that mission, T/Sgt. Benko shot down seven Japanese aircraft, quickly making a believer of the officer. 

Prior to a mission, Benko removed all tracers from his ammunition belt. He used this tactic so the enemy would not know they were being fired upon and tracer fire can show a false trajectory as the shells lose weight when burning in flight. 

Original 3D art of the B-24D Liberator "The Goon" and Japanese Zero.

In December, 1943, “The Goon” lost two engines after a night attack on the Kowloon docks. The crew jettisoned all non-essential items and everyone bailed out except for the pilot, who was eventually able to make it to a friendly base. Benko and another crewman were captured and killed by the Japanese. T/Sgt. Arthur Benko, the leading air gunner of all allied forces in WW2, was lost.

Konley Kelley

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Photos and text © by Konley Kelley

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