“The power of women! I’ve never felt so full of mysterious power. Men are a joke.”

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–John Fowles – 1963

The night witches were an all-female brigade of bomber pilots that flew during World War II for the Soviet Union, made up of volunteers in their late teens and early twenties. They were called night witches because they flew only at night and incited great fear in the Germans. These were the only women pilots during World War II.

The regiment flew harassment bombing and precision bombing missions against the German military from 1942 until the end of the war. At its largest, it had 40 two-person crews. The regiment flew over 24,000 missions and dropped 23,000 tons of bombs. Soviet night witches would fly as many as 18 missions in a single night. It was the most highly decorated all-women unit in the Soviet Air Force, each pilot having flown over 800 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.