Night Witches

Russia had a division of of women who flew night-strikes into Nazi Germany. They were the most highly decorated female company within the Soviet Air Force. They flew two-person biplanes that were originally designed to be crop-dusters.The old planes had loud, noisy engines, that would were known to fail mid-flight. When an engine would go down, one of the women flying the plane would then climb out onto the wing and restart the prop, by hand, mid-flight.

This skill was also the technique they would use for dropping their payload. The Night Witches had planes that were loud enough that the German towns could hear their approach and prepare anti-aircraft retaliation. The simplest way to prevent detection? Easy. They cut their engines and would glide in over their target, and drop their bombs. After they had finished the drop, someone would climb out onto the wing, restart the engine, and they would return to their base.

They were apparently given the name “Night Witches” because it was imagined that the silent gliding of their aircraft was similar to the silence of a witch on a broom.

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