509th composite group's atomic bombing targets?

I was just wondering if anyone could point to information about the target or targets used by the 509th Composite Group—the WWII bomb group tasked with delivering the first atomic weapons—used in their training, before Hiroshima?

I think I recall that it was just a big painted circle in the desert, maybe with some distance markers around it, but I’m not sure. A description, pictures, or even a diagram would be really helpful.

So…can anyone help me out?

From Enola Gay by Gordon Thomas and Max Gordon Witts, 1977, Stein and Day.

This was in the fall of 1944. Several other bombing exercises are described in the book, and they refer to IPs (Initial Points) and APs (Aiming Points), so presumably there must have been something like a bull’s-eye to serve as the AP, but it is not described in detail. (At least not in any of the passages I’ve skimmed in the last half hour. I may have missed something.)

The book does mention an incident in which a 509th crew accidentally dropped a 9,000-lb dummy bomb at the IP instead of the AP. It came down half a mile outside the town of Calipatria, CA. :eek: No one was hurt. (pp 100-102.)

I’d suggest also looking through Rhodes’ the Making of the Atomic Bomb. I would do it, but it’s late and I’m going to bed.

While photos of the targets surely exist, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one. This page would indicate that film footage of some tests is available:

“Pumpkins” were the nickname for the orange-painted Fat Man dummies.

Various dead ends that one might have hoped would have an answer. Hoddeson et al, Critical Assembly (Cambridge, 1993), have a detailed account of the various test drops at Dahlgren, Muroc, Wendover (with the targets in the Salton Sea) and Inyokern, but concentrate more on the rationale and the instrumentation and don’t give any detail about the targets. It’s much the same with Christman’s biography of Deak Parsons, while Tibbets autobiography barely mentions the matter at all.
Fermi and Samra’s Picturing the Bomb (Abrams, 1995) has good photos of a dummy Fat Man at Wendover (p118), a dummy Little Boy inside a B-29 there (p170) and a dummy Fat Man falling over Nakajima in July 1945 (p179), but no photos of the test drops in the US.

BTW, Ranchoth, why you asking? Finished building your full-scale B-29 model and ready to do some testing of your own?

I wish. But no, I’m just building a bombing range on my flight sim, and I was wanting to put a nice variety of targets for a number of different types of weapons and attacks. (Strafing targets, Soviet-style SAM batteries, bunkers, crowds of hippies, etc.)