336 - The Night Witches
On October 8th, 1941, with Stalingrad surrounded, Leningrad besieged, and the Nazis making new gains on Russian territory every day, Joseph Stalin ordered the creation of three new Air Force regiments... the first female aviation military regiments in world history. Led by famed civilian aviator Marina Raskova, these young women, most of whom were between the ages of 17 and 26, would have to transform from flight hobbyists to killer soldiers. The 588th Night Bombers Regiment would earn the nickname “the Night Witches” from the German soldiers they terrorized in the darkness. Flying no-frills wooden planes with ill-fitting uniforms and no parachutes, most runs would happen with three planes, the first two meant to draw attention and enemy fire, with the third being the one to drop the bomb. What made this so dangerous is the fact that the third plane, to avoid detection, would have to cut their engines and glide over their target as quietly as possible. Despite the danger, the Night Witches regiment alone would fly around 30,000 sorties and have 23 of their pilots awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union— and they would definitively help change the tide of the war against the Nazis. The badass story of the Night Witches and their female fighter counterparts, this week, on Timesuck.
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