The Night Witches
Few people would connect broomsticks, witches, and crop-sprayers to a feared group of female Russian pilots. The women pilots were members of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment of World War II. Even today not many people know about these female pilots who did so much to support their male comrades by the accurate bombing of German troops.
These women were usually aged 17 to 26 years of age used to fly on night-time bombing missions. When approaching their target, they would idle their engines and glide into their bombing points.
This largely silent approach gave off a “whooshing” sound as they went by, causing the Germans to liken it to the sound of the broomsticks of witches and thus arose the name of “Nachthexen’ – Night Witches!
These girl-pilots harassed the Germans to such an extent that they were both hated and feared by them. It was said that any German pilot who managed to bring down one of the planes of a Night Witch would automatically be awarded the Iron Cross. It is no wonder that these intrepid girl-pilots bore the name ‘Night Witches’ with pride!
Simulation of a typical 588th Night Bombing Mission.