Wind, clouds, and turbulence all played factors in throwing the plane off. Also, bombing a target was hard to do even within anti-aircraft range and nothing else to put it off track. Due to the fact that bombing was so inaccurate, the term “precision bombing” became an oxymoron for the flight crews with a sense of black humor.
One unforgettable occurrence of this was on May 10, 1940 when the Luftwaffe accidentally bombed its own civilians. When the French and British heard of this act of violence, the German propagandists made people believe that the bombers hit what they aimed at.
There are many more accidental attacks aided by the B-17’s from the Allied Powers as well. Operation COBRA, an intense bombing mission to aid ground soldiers in France, went horribly wrong due to miscommunication. More American soldiers were killed and wounded than Germans in this two day mishap. These occurrences were so common that “enraged American units…opened fire on their own aircraft, a not uncommon practice among all the armies.” It was after this atrocity that Eisenhower vowed to never again “risk heavy bombing to assist ground attacks.”
It is noted that Hitler once proclaimed, “the loser of the war will be the side that makes the greatest blunders.” And if the outcome of the war was solely based on “precision bombing,” who’s to say that we wouldn’t have made the greater mistakes.