The Navy referred to Topsail Island as a "sand spit." But on this area, some 200 missiles were crafted and tested from 1946-1948. There were no inhabitants on the island then other than military personnel. It was strictly off limits and top secret to the general public.
Finally in March 1947, the Navy announced what it was doing on Topsail Island, but failed to mention that the tests had already been ongoing for months.
Eight observation towers located along the island were used for tracking the missiles. They housed advanced photography and radar.
Operation Bumblebee included the development and testing of the Navy's first supersonic guided missiles and the ramjet engine, the basis of today's jet aircraft and warheads, including the Terrier, tartar and Talos missile systems.