Night witches: Soviet pilots feared by the Germans
Night witches: Soviet pilots feared by the Germans
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Night witches - female air regiment in the Soviet Army

The great victory over the German fascist invaders is a feat for which the whole world is grateful to the Soviet people. For five long years, everyone, from young to old, brought the victory closer from day to day. Some are at the front, others are in the rear, and others are in partisan detachments. Today we would like to remember "Night witches", the female pilots who soared into the sky on plywood training planes at nightfall. On account of their regiment more than 23 thousand sorties and almost 5 thousand dropped bombs.

Soviet pilots

The idea of ​​forming an all-female flight regiment was not taken seriously for a long time, although in the pre-war years the profession of a pilot was popular and many girls mastered flying. Permission to form the regiment was given by Joseph Stalin after Marina Raskova, a senior lieutenant of state security, turned to him with a personal request. Determined, she assured the People's Commissar that women can fly as well as men and can handle any combat mission.

Pilots Evdokia Bershanskaya and Larisa Rozanova

There were exclusively women in the regiment. The Germans called them "night witches" and at first made fun of them flying on ordinary training planes. True, then they began to be afraid, like fire. After all, the witches' radars were not detected, the noise of the engines was practically inaudible, and the girls dropped the bombs with such pinpoint accuracy that the enemy was doomed.

Flight personnel of the regiment

For all the years of battles, the regiment lost only 32 fighters, the losses by the standards of the war are scanty. The girls were saved by the highest professionalism. Living and working conditions were very difficult, but they did not despair and even managed to smarten up after night flights. A holiday was considered the days when the "waxwash" arrived, a special oven in which clothes were fried. The rest of the time, tunics and trousers were washed with gasoline.

Crew of Tanya Makarova and Vera Belik. They died in 1944 in Poland

Physical labor was also hard: during the night the pilots made 5-7 sorties, and sometimes up to 15-18. They were so exhausted that they simply could not stand on their feet. Before each flight, it was necessary to hang bombs, the weight of which varied from 25 to 100 kg. The test was not an easy one, it required serious physical training. A characteristic detail, many pilots preferred not to take parachutes with them, but to load additional ammunition into the plane for this weight. In those cases when the plane was shot down, the pilots had no chance of escape. It should be noted that the planes were an easy target - the girls on board had the only weapon - the TT pistol.

Katya Ryabova and Nina Danilova are dancing

Every female pilot in the regiment was a heroine. There were also stories that were difficult to believe. Galina Dokutovich flew on the brink of human capabilities. In the first days at the front, the girl received a serious spinal injury. During one of the halts, having landed the plane, she waited for the mechanic to conjure over it, and lay down in the grass. Unfortunately, she fell asleep, and a fuel truck ran over her. A friend who was with Galina managed to jump away at the last moment, but Dokutovich was hospitalized. After being discharged, she was entitled to six months of rehabilitation, but instead the girl returned to her location and … began to fly. Every night, Dokutovich ascended into the sky in spite of the pain, and one of her flights became fatal. The girl completed the task, but became the target of the Fritzes. At that time, she had 120 sorties.

May 2, 2006. Night witches meet every year. There are four of them left this year

In memory of those who fought for a peaceful sky, we have collected photographs of WWII veterans from 15 former Soviet republics… Low bow to the heroes!

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