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The Most Daring Women Of All Time Go By The Nickname Night Witches
The Most Daring Women of All-Time Go By the Nickname "Night Witches":
By: Steven Keogh
September 1, 1939 marks the official start of the second world war, by June 1941 the Third Reich had launched Operation Barbarossa by invading the Soviet Union. Come September the German had pushed all the way to Moscow, and was threatening to take the city. Fearing the loss of their capital, the bravest women of the Soviet Union stepped-up to the plate. In October of 1941 Joseph Stalin (the Soviet Premier) deployed 3 specialized all wonem groups to the Soviet Air Force. These groups were strictly comprised of women in their teens and early twenties; and, were given the chore of harassment night and precision bombings. This regiment of valiant women flew over 24,000 missions from 1942-1945 dropping over 23,000 tons of bombs. Most of these women ran over 800 missions aptly gaining the nickname "night witches" from the German themselves.
Armed with obsolete plains (most from the mid 1920's) that didn't even have electrical systems (electric start was incorporated into mid 1930's planes), and no parachutes it would seem these women were sent on a suicide mission to be shot down by the German luftwaffe. These planes were so obsolete this it could take minutes for them to get the engine started (here's a video of the type of plane they were flying: https://youtu.be/y6dl_D7gw58). However, these wood and canvas planes offered unique advantages. They were easy to maneuver; and, their maximum speed was below the stall speed of their German adversaries. The result was a night mare of bombing attacks on the German army. Things got even worse for the Nazi's when the night witches attack strategy was to idle the plane close to the target; then, glide the bomb to the release point. This made the women mostly silent with the only sound coming from the wind.
By the end of the war 30 of these women had fallen in combat; however, 24 of them were awarded the hero of the Soviet Union title. This remains as one of the coolest unsung stories of world war 2; and, it's time for these brave women to get their time in the spotlight.