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Max P Shambaugh

Military

Max Shambaugh served as a pilot with the 323rd Bomb Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group, flying missions out of Bassingbourn, England.

Service

People

  • Thomas Flemming

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Thomas F Flemming served as a pilot with the 323rd Bomb Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group. ...

  • Robert Holliday

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Robert Holliday flew his first few missions as the co-pilot with Lt. Shambaugh. He then flew the majority of his missions (18 out of 30) in A/C 44-48431, OR-W, "Cheri II." His co-pilot was Edward Fagnani.

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Units served with

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 323rd Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 43-38379 Margie

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 27/7/44; Hunter 5/8/44; Dow Fd 20/8/44; Assigned 571BS/390BG Framlingham 2/9/44; transferred 323BS/91BG [OR-O] Bassingbourn 10/9/44; Returned to the USA Bradley 21/5/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains, Texas 3/6/45; Reconstruction...

  • 43-38642 'Super Mouse'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 28/8/44; Patterson 19/9/44; Hunter 29/9/44; Dow Fd 7/10/44; Assigned 323BS/91BG Bassingbourn 4/11/44; 15m battle damaged Wittlich 29/12/44 with Max Shambaugh, flak KO’d two engines. bombs jettisoned and Noyons, Fr; crew bailed OK;...

Associated Place

  • Bassingbourn

    Military site : airfield
    Now home to a museum all about the aifield and its USAAF residents (http://www.towermuseumbassingbourn.co.uk/) , Bassingbourn opened in 1938 as part of the RAF's pre-war expansion programme. The RAF continued to use it until late in 1942 when its long...

Events

Event Location Date
Mission to Wittlich, Germany 29 December 1944

Testimony of Lt. Col. James Hammond (USAF, Ret.) regarding Mr. Shambaugh's heroic actions on December 29, 1944.

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked. The next day, Max Shambaugh went down, like millions of other Americans, and joined the Air Force to be a fighter pilot. The uncompromised, frenzied patriotism in the country was contagious.

On December 29, 1944, the 8th Air Force, 91st Bombardment Group, 323rd Bombardment Squadron, stationed at Bassingbourn RAF Base in England, dispatched its fleet of B-17 bombers to attack a target in Wittlich, Germany.

Group take-off, assembly, and climb to altitude were uneventful. Upon entering the German controlled area, a heavy and accurate concentration of flak was encountered. We could not use evasive action since we were on the bomb run and at that time Max called out to the crew to stand by for a hit. We suffered a direct hit coming through in the wing about a foot off the cockpit which cut off both engines on the left side of the airplane. These shells were normally set to go off at altitude or proximity, but in this case it was a dud or it would have blown out the whole side of the aircraft, including the cockpit. The direct hit disabled #1 and #2 engines, and caused Lt. Shambaugh to lose the ability to stay in formation or maintain speed and altitude. He immediately ordered the bombs to be jettisoned and dropped quickly downward leaving the formation and realized we could not keep up with the squadron. Flack followed us all the way to approximately 12,000 feet. He brought the aircraft under control and turned to a heading which would bring him back to friendly territory in France. Within approximately 15 minutes we flew over a German airfield and two ME109’s came up to meet us. By that time we had jettisoned all our guns, ammunition, radios, and anything with any weight so we could extend our flight as far as possible. These two fighters came at us head on and we waited for the lights to flash in their wings which were 20mm cannons. This did not occur and they came within 30 feet of the cockpit and had their arms in a salute to us. At that time we were continuing at approximately 120mph with the left wing in a high position and it was obvious we were in deep trouble. A few minutes later a 80mm flack gun took off again on us putting one in front and one behind us. Max made a sharp turn to the right. We were lucky to avoid any more direct hits since we already had many flack holes in our wings. We continued on to approximately 2,500 feet where it was quite obvious we were not going to go on much further. Our radio was shot out and we had no contact with anyone. The #1 and #2 engines continued running, but could not be controlled nor feathered.

Lt. Shambaugh determined it would be questionable to control the aircraft at slower landing speeds and ordered all flight crew members to “Bail out”. All the crew bailed out. At approximately 1,000 feet Max told me, the co-pilot, that it was time for me to go and I asked if he was coming. He replied, “right behind you, J.D”. I bailed out and my chute opened and almost immediately I was on the ground. Max would later tell me that he then jumped back to the bomb bay to see how far the ground was and it was approximately 500 feet below, which meant he couldn’t open a chute before hitting the ground. Therefore, he jumped back into the cockpit seat without any time to fasten his seat belt, cut all of the generator battery and pump switches, etc. and pulled it out of a dive and attempted to stabilize the aircraft. Super Mouse hit the ground, went through a woods, taking trees with him and crashed into a 15-acre field, wheels up, bomb bay doors open, and bounced 80 feet in the air with the open bomb bay dug into the ground and stopped about 3 feet from the end of that field in northeastern France.

Max needed to get out of the airplane as soon as possible before there was a fire or explosion. At that same time some French farmers came to the field. It turned out the French farmers were part of the French underground and they hid him and his crew and helped them return to England through the underground so they were able to fly again.

Max was interviewed by an intelligence officer who said this was a Silver Star if he ever saw one and wanted him to come back the next day for another interview. At that time, an interview was the least of his concerns. His crew had come back safely from a combat mission to fight another day and that was his primary concern rather than seeking a medal as a reward. It is my understanding that Lt. Shambaugh declined, at the time of his return to Bassingbourne debriefing, the opportunity to provide the narrative for a medal.

Lt. Shambaugh’s piloting skill and command of the situation secured the safe return of a flight crew to duty and at risk to his own life, steered the aircraft to a successful touchdown. His devotion to duty and expertise should be recognized in the form of an appropriate medal, even at this late date.

The above events are as I remember them. I was Lt. Shambaugh’s co-pilot on the described mission.

James D. Hammond
Lt. Col USAF (Ret.)
Co-Pilot B-17 Super Mouse

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
28 June 2017 09:36:12 SeattleSleeper Changes to media associations
Sources

Public domain records and records of Lt. Thomas F. Flemming

Date Contributor Update
28 June 2017 09:29:23 SeattleSleeper Changes to events
Sources

Testimony of Lt. Col. James Hammond (USAF, Ret.) regarding Mr. Shambaugh's heroic actions on December 29, 1944.

Date Contributor Update
27 June 2017 15:58:58 SeattleSleeper Changes to media associations
Sources

B&W negative from Lt. Thomas F. Flemming

Date Contributor Update
27 June 2017 15:52:55 SeattleSleeper Changes to media associations
Sources

Records of Lt. Thomas F. Flemming and 323rd BS load lists

Date Contributor Update
27 June 2017 15:47:26 SeattleSleeper Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, person associations, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

Lt. Thomas F. Flemming and 91st BG, 323rd BS load list for February 1945

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