August 28, 1944: Bombing Practice - Muroc Maru

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  • US Army Air Forces

Personnel from the Seventh Air Force arrived to set up a six-week training program for replacement B-25 aircrews on their way to the Pacific Theater. The Pacific Theater Training Program was transferred from Oahu to Muroc Army Air Field in order to reduce seaborne supply traffic, and became the Fourth Air Force’s only B-25 “finishing school.”  Shortly thereafter, a 650 foot wooden replica of a Japanese Atago-class heavy cruiser (soon dubbed the Muroc Maru) was constructed on the south shore of the lakebed as a target for skip-bombing practice.

Muroc Maru, officially Army Air Forces Temporary Building T-799, was a replica of a Japanese Takao-class cruiser constructed on the floor of Rogers Dry Lake in southern California during World War II. Used to train bomber pilots and bombardiers in techniques for attacking warships, Muroc Maru remained in place until 1950, when it was demolished.  Army Air Forces Temporary Building T-799 was built during 1943 on the southern end of Rogers Dry Lake in California for the purpose of training United States Army Air Forces bomber pilots, navigators and bombardiers in bombing, strafing, and the identification of warships, including skip bombing techniques. The lakebed site was chosen for the construction of the training structure as the bright sand dunes, sculpted to give the appearance of a wake around the 'ship', created the illusion of the vessel being at sea.  Designed to mimic the size and appearance of a Takao-class heavy cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the structure was constructed from four-by-four lumber and chicken wire, with tar paper covering the "hull" to complete the illusion of a solid, fully constructed ship.  The structure cost $35,819.18 to build.  

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