The Nachthexen or Night Witches, was a nickname for the Female Aviators of the Soviet 588th Night Bomber Regiment. The regiment was formed by Colonel Marina Raskova and led by Major Yevdokia Bershanskaya. Starting in 1942 the regiment flew precision bombing missions over German forces lasting until the war ended in 1945. At its largest size, it had 40 two-person crews. It flew over 23,000 sorties and is said to have dropped 3,000 tons of bombs. It was the most highly-decorated female unit in the Soviet Air Force, each pilot having flown over 1,000 missions by the end of the war and twenty-three having been awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title. Thirty of its members died in combat. The regiment most often flew in Biplane Polikarpov Po-2’s. Which were frequently in a rundown state that produced much noise and stalling. The Night Witches used this to their benefit by idling engines over targets before releasing bombs as the older planes had a lower speed than the stalling point on many German models, making them difficult to shoot down. For more information, 1 and for a special bbc article with documentary 2.

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