Question 1. At the end of WWII which group of pilots unnerved German infantrymen so badly they were called the Nachthexen?
Choices a. American Red Tails b. British RAF c. A group of barely trained Russian women in crop dusters
And the answer is, drum roll please, barely trained Russian women flying wood and canvas Polikarpov Po2 biplanes originally intended for crop dusting.
These planes were so bad that they would randomly stop mid-flight and the women would have to climb out on the wings to restart them. However they had a top speed below the stall threshold for a Messerschmitt, Germany’s all powerful fighter jet. This meant Messerschmitt pilots couldn’t slow their planes enough to shot a Po2 down without stalling which was not a good maneuver for a Messerschmitt but the lowly crop duster could handle it.
These Russian pilots were called Nachthexen or Night Witches because they could cut their engines and glide silently over sleeping troops. If anyone heard anything at all before the explosions began, it would be the eerie whistling of the guide-wires, a sound the Germans compared to witches flying overhead on their broomsticks. (Apparently witches flew over small villages frequently enough for young German soldiers to recognize the sound.)
The physical damage these women caused paled in comparison to the shame of it all. The mighty Teutonic forces terrorized by women in crop dusters! The mighty Luftwaffe, powerless to do anything! Ach du lieber!
Rumors regarding these mighty women were at first dismissed by American pilots but soon came to be revered, most notably by the fictional Captain Wilhelm Umberto Grayson in FLIPKA. Years after the war he would name his “mistress,” a Po2 biplane, after one of them and oh, the adventures they would have together.
After the war these women became one of the most highly decorated regimens in the Soviet army. To this date they are still revered:
I think that’s cool, don’t you?