Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West


Martin B-26
12/30/41
 

On 12/30/41 a USAAF Martin B-26 #40-1475 crashed into cloud enshrouded Keller Peak in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California killing the crew of nine. The B-26 was one of nine rushed to the West Coast prior to being flown to Hawaii to reinforce our armed forces following the 12/7/41 Japanese attack. #40-1475 was en route to March Field in Riverside County from Muroc AAB when it crashed. Weather was a factor in this accident, the other eight B-26s reached March Field and went on to Hawaii from there they were flown to Midway Island to fight the epic battle of June 1942.

In 1994 a memorial plaque was placed above the crash site by David G. Schmidt of Running Spring, CA. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Schmidt the crew of #40-1475 will not be forgotten. Thanks to Pete DuBoise for sharing his photos of the memorial plaque and crash site. My first visits to the B-26 site were in the 1960s and 70s. Not much has changed since then as the long silent R-2800 engines still remain with the landing gear and assorted small parts. A salvager smelted the wreck in the late 1950s for its aluminum value

 

R-2800-5 engine located near initial impact of Martin B-26 #40-1475.  (Photo by G. P. Macha)

Another view of R-2800-5 engine with Rich Allision in the Manzanita  just below initial impact. A few hundred yards east, west, or a few hundred feet higher and  they would have cleared the peak.  (Photo by G. P. Macha)
 

Keller Peak summit. The. B-26 crash site is located just to the left of this view.  (Photo by Pete DuBoise)
 

Outstanding photo of plaque by Pete DuBoise

!/200 scale Martin B-26 model on topographic map depicting 12/30/41 crash site. (HMB Model and photo by G.P. Macha)

 

Tom Maloney and Lewis Shorb are barely visible near R-2800 engine from Martin B-26 #40-1475.

The under growth now conceals most of the crash site. My first here in June 1969 was vastly different, with much of the remaining wreckage easily visible and accessible. (G.P. Macha Photo)
 

Artwork by R.T. Foster depicts the B-26 a second before impacting Keller Peak on 12/30/41. Entitled The Spirits of Keller Peakthe crewmen of #40-1475 are memorialized at the fire lookout tower above the crash site.  (G.P. Macha photo)

 

 

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