Did You Know?
Did You know that certain witches flew by night and tried to avoid the moonlight? They were women of the Soviet Air Forces during World War II (1939-1945).
The 588th Night Bomber Regiment,
Later this fearless group of women became known later as the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. The regiment was formed by Colonel Marina Raskova and let by Major Yevdokia Bershanskaya. They fl
ecision bombing missions against Germany from 1942 to the end of the war in 1945. At its highest strength and size, the womens’ regiment had 40 (two person) crews and they flew over 23,000 times in what are called sorties. It is estimated that between them, they dropped 3,000 tons of bombs. It was the most highly decorated female unit in the Soviet Union.
Flying into the Face of Death
Each pilot took over – dropped bombs – and came home for a total of 800 missions. Imagine taking off 800 times and not knowing if you would return? In fact, 30 female pilots and co-pilots died in combat.
Not Exactly Top-Model Planes
The regiment flew in wood and canvas POLIKARPOV P0-2 bi-planes that had been designed in 1928 (14 years old when females began piloting them). Because of their small design, each plane could only carry six bombs. The women were expected to drop the bombs, come back to base, reload and fly off again – all in the same night!
aircraft and for crop-dusting, and to this day the most-produced biplane in all of aviation history. The planes could carry only six bombs at a time, so multiple missions per night were necessary.
An attack technique of the night bombers was to idle the engine near the target and glide to the bomb release point, with only wind noise to reveal their location. German soldiers likened the sound to broomsticks and named the pilots “Night Witches.” Due to the weight of the bombs and the low altitude of flight, the pilots carried no parachutes.
Now, that’s what I call a warrior-woman. paula.