In 1942 the Soviet Union formed three regiments of female combat pilots who flew night combat missions of harassment bombing. Flying obsolete Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes, that were otherwise used as trainers and could only carry two bombs weighing less than a ton altogether, these women were so successful and deadly the Germans feared them, calling them “Nachthexen”—Night Witches.
The Soviet women bomber pilots earned in total 23 Hero of the Soviet Union medals and dozens of Orders of the Red Banner. Most of the women bomber pilots who survived the war in 1945 had racked up nearly 1,000 missions each. They had served so exemplarily throughout the whole war that they participated in the final onslaught on Berlin. This is their story.