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Night Witches

September 25, 2012

Early days of military aviation were exclusively men’s club, but a lack of trained pilots during the World War II gave females opportunity to prove themselves. In Russia, young girls, eighteen, nineteen and twenty years of age left schools and factories to be admitted to the air forces. Many already won wings in their local flying clubs and now wanted to fight in combat. There were several female regiments, but one in particular deserves to be remembered.

Night Witches would glide silently, release the bombs and vanish into the night sky. Only the whistle of the wings announced their presence. Their Polikarpov aircrafts were made of plywood and canvas, which allowed them to fly low and cut the engine off before attacking. Moreover, the only metallic thing in the outdated Po-2 was the engine, making it invisible for radars. Since the plane was originally designed for training, it could carry only two bombs per mission. That is why the Witches had to fly relentlessly throughout a night. They never gave any rest to the enemy.

Although Night Witches were given obsolete and slow planes, normally used in agriculture and flying schools, these brave women gave them exceptional manoeuvrability and daringly transformed them into lethal fighters. In three years of their existence, they carried out over 23,000 attacks and dropped 3,000 tons of bombs. How come their story is nearly forgotten?

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From → Get Inspired

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