The Night Witches

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Goodygixxer, Jul 16, 2015.

  1. Goodygixxer

    Goodygixxer Senior Member

    An interesting article i discovered on the web earlier that i thought i'd share. I've never heard of this before.

    The Night Witches.
    Made up of only women, the 588th Night Bomber Regiment was trained for bombing missions behind German lines, flying 1920s-era planes built of wood and canvas with no radio or radar, their bombs held to the wings by wire. This construction gave the planes the advantage of flying below radar and surprising the enemy in the dead of night.
    Flying 15 to 18 missions per night (each!), their planes often returned, “riddled with bullets,” according to Nadezhda (Nadia) Popova. Enlisting at only 19 years old, Nadia’s motive was revenge: for her brother killed on the front, her home taken over by German soldiers, and her town destroyed by German aircrafts. When shot down in the North Caucasus in July 1942, she met another shot down pilot who would become her husband when the war was over. Lt. Col. Popova flew 852 missions and was shot down several times in the freezing cold. She was lucky though; she watched several of her friends’ burning planes fall from the sky.
    The regiment, unofficially known as “Stalin’s Falcons,” were given a much more chilling moniker by the Germans: Nachthexen, or “The Night Witches.” Sounds like the perfect name for a thriller, doesn’t it?
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    A very interesting subject and I have to confess that I was totally ignorant of it.

    The women fliers had an extremely hard Task to fulfil.

  4. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    CL1 likes this.
  5. PaulE

    PaulE Senior Member

    A good book about the Nachthexen and other Soviet women flers is Defending the Motherland by Lyuba Vonogradova , highly recommended , the girls won 23 HOSU !!
  6. lostinspace

    lostinspace Junior Member

    According to Bruce Myles' "Night Witches" (1981), there were three regiments of women pilots (and ground crews): 586 Fighter Regiment (Yak-1); 587 Bomber Regiment (Pe-2) and 588 Night Bomber Regiment (later elevated to 46 Guards Regiment). As I recall (it's been some time since I read the book), he interviewed quite a number of pilots and mechanics and incorporated their stories into the narrative. About the only pilot I remember is Lily Litvak of 586 Fighter Regiment, I think she had ten or so victories in 1942-43 but didn't survive the war.


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