Carbon fibre reinforced sheet moulding compounds are being used more extensively, however their use comes alongside the manufacturing issue of dimensional instability and unpredictable failure locations. These are both features of the fibre orientation distribution which can be affected by the charge location. This paper presents aspects of work examining the effect of the charge placement on the distortion and strain distribution (measured by digital image correlation) of such panels. The warpage of the panel has been compared with an investigation of the fibre orientation distribution by micro-computed tomography. It has been found that the charge location affects both the warpage and strain distribution under load of the moulded panel, with the fibre orientation distribution due to the flow of the charge in the mould being the origin of both effects. To minimise distortion during manufacture, and reduce the negative effects of strain concentrations within the material, the charge shape and placement must be carefully considered during the design process.