Bombing accuracy

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

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 boxes” “percentage 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!


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.


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 Europe” “Bomb tonnage”
Electricity 251
V Weapons 310
Light Metals 497
Machinery 600
Optical and Precision Instruments “1 003”
Rubber “1 687”
Explosives “2 154”
Bearings “4 407”
Armaments “5 344”
Steel “5 362”
Motor Vehicles “7 380”
Miscellaneous Factories “8 809”
Tanks “16 990”
Naval and Water Transportation “19 116”
Chemical “31 408”
Aircraft Factories “36 832”
Military bases “51 332”
Oil “163 155”
Transportation “351 719”
Cities (Industrial Areas) “586 538”