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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Wendover Air Field, UT

Wendover Air Field was chosen as the rear training base for the 509th Composite Group because of its isolation. It is located in the salt flats located 125 miles west of Salt Lake City. Colonel Paul Tibbets, head of the 509th, remarked upon seeing Wendover for himself: “The end of the world, perfect.” Life at Wendover was primitive: the drinking water was bad, infrastructure was limited, rats invaded barracks, and there was sand in everything.

However, Wendover proved to be an excellent place for the 509th to practice “pumpkin-bomb” drops. The unique shape of the atomic bombs set to be dropped on Japan required aircrews to learn new bomb drop techniques. Hundreds of practice bombs were dropped from B-29s as engineers from Los Alamos sought to determine the correct weight distribution and shape of the aerodynamically unique bombs. After having received modifications at the Martin Aircraft Factory on May 18, 1945, the Enola Gay was flown to Wendover on June 12 of the same year.

345 S. Airport Apron Wendover UT, 84083 US