Bombing accuracy

Bombing accuracy of B-17 and B-24 groups in Europe.

B-24 bombing Ploesti

Best chronicled of all bombing missions by the USAAF is the Ploesti (Romania) refinery raid by B-24 Ds from North Africa on 1 August 1943.

Bombing accuracy:

With less than 50 per-cent cloud coverage an average B-17 Fortress Group could be expected to place 32.4% of its bombs within 1000 feet of the aiming point when aiming visually.

The average B-24 Liberator Group under the same conditions could be expected to place 30.4% of its bombs within 1000 feet of the aiming point.

One box of bombers could contain from 3 to 18 planes. Formations with a three plane frontage could be expected to be 45% more accurate than formations with a nine plane frontage. A six bomber front would be only about 10% more accurate than a 9 bomber front.

The percentage of boxes which could be expected to place at least 10% of their load within 1000 feet of the aiming point depends upon how many other boxes passed over the target beforehand.

Order of boxespercentage within 1000ft
1st Bomber Box 82%
2nd Bomber Box 60%
3rd Bomber Box 48%
4th Bomber Box 47%
5th Bomber Box 30%

RAF bombers dropped 40% of their bombs within 425 feet of the aiming point and averaged 38% of their tonnage on target. While it appears that the RAF was vastly more accurate than the AAF, it must be remembered that the ‘AIMING POINT’ for AAF aircraft was usually a single factory building. The ‘AIMING POINT’ for RAF bombers would be the entire city!

Survivability:

B-17’s with the 15th Air Force in North Africa and Southern Italy accomplished about 77 missions per plane while those of the 8th AF in Great Britain averaged only 58.9 missions.
B-24’s with the 15th AF usually completed 35.5 missions per plane while those of the 8th AF completed 49.9 missions.

Targets:

The following bomb tonnage taken from the United States Strategic Bombardment Survey show how heavily each of the following industrial complexes were bombed.

Targets in EuropeBomb tonnage
Electricity 251
V Weapons 310
Light Metals 497
Machinery 600
Optical and Precision Instruments1,003
Rubber1,687
Explosives2,154
Bearings4,407
Armaments5,344
Steel5,362
Motor Vehicles7,380
Miscellaneous Factories8,809
Tanks16,990
Naval and Water Transportation19,116
Chemical31,408
Aircraft Factories36,832
Military bases51,332
Oil163,155
Transportation351,719
Cities (Industrial Areas)586,538
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