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Thread: Night witches

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    Default Night witches

    Gentlemen you already much know about the participation of women in WW2. But you do know you that some courageous women they did not a bit be inferior to men in the heroism. I speak about the "night witches".

    A group of Night Witches from the 588th Night Bomber Regiment returning from a successful raid behind enemy lines. In the center is the 588th's commander, Major Yevdokia Bershanskaya

    The Nachthexen
    In 1942 the Soviet Union formed three regiments of women combat pilots who flew night combat missions of harassment bombing. They flew obsolete Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes, that were otherwise used as trainers, and which could only carry 2 bombs that weighted less than a ton altogether. They were so successful and deadly the Germans feared them, calling them "Nachthexen"—night witches. (Some sources state that they were nicknamed "Night Witches" because it was made up entirely of female pilots and they flew their missions in the wooden Po-2's at night.)

    The Night Witches were the women of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. All of the mechanics and bomb loaders of this regiment, as in the 586th IAP and the 587th Bomber Regiment, were also women.

    The Soviet women bomber pilots earned in total 23 Hero of the Soviet Union medals and dozens of Orders of the Red Banner. Two women bomber pilots—Katya Ryabova and Nadya Popova—in one night raided the Germans 18 times. The Po-2 pilots flew more than 24,000 sorties and dropped 23,000 tons of bombs. Most of the women bomber pilots who survived the war in 1945 had racked up nearly 1,000 missions each. They had served so exemplarily throughout the whole war that they participated in the final onslauqht on Berlin.


    Tactics used by the Night Witches
    The 588th, like all night bomber regiments, usually practiced harassment bombing. This consisted of going to the encampments, rear area bases, supply depots, etc., where the enemy was trying to rest from a day of heavy fighting to another, and bombing them. The strategic importance of the targets was seldom high, but the psychological effect of terror and insecurity and constant restlessness in the Germans (and Rumanians, Italians, Finns...) was very effective.
    Harassment night bombing was very difficult to do, considering the low performance of the Po-2 biplanes (their top speed was 94 mph/150 kph, less even than most World War I fighters!) and how vulnerable that made them to enemy night fighters. But the Night Witches learned their trade well. The Po-2 was very slow, but it was also very maneuverable. When a German Me-109 tried to intencept it, the Russian plane could turn violently and nimbly at much less than the 109's minimum speed (stall speed), requiring that the German make a wide circle to come in for another pass. Then he was again met with the same evasive tactic, time after time. Many pilots got to nearly earth-level, flying low enough to be hidden behind hedgerows! The German fighter could only try again and again until he got frustrated and just left the Po-2 alone. No wonder, German pilots were promised an Iron Cross for shooting down a Po-2.

    Note: Actually, the stall speed of the E, F, and G models of the Me-109 (the ones used in the Soviet Union) was nearing 120 mph/192 kph, so the Messerschmitt could never equal the speed of the Po-2, because even the Russian biplane's top speed was lesser than the German fighter's stall speed. The other fighter (more commonly) used in the Eastern Front, the Focke-Wulf FW-190A, had also a high stall speed, so its predicament was the same.

    The Witches would fly to a certain distance of the enemy encapments that were to be the target, and cut their engine. They would then glide silently, silently... When the Fascists started to hear the whistle of the wind against the Po-2's wing bracing wires, they realized in panic that it was too late. The Night Witches would sneak up on them and release their bombs, then restart their engines and fly away home.

    The Po-2 would pass often undetected by the night fighters' radar, because of the mildly radar absorbing nature of the canvas surfaces, and the fact that mostly they flew near the ground. German planes equipped with infrared seekers would not see the little heat generated by the small, 110 horsepower engine.

    Searchlights, however, were another story. The Germans at Stalingrad developed what the Russians called a "flak circus". They would bring out the flak guns that had been hidden during the day, and lay them in concentric circles around probable targets, and the same with the searchlights. Po-2s crossing the perimeter in pairs in the straight line flight path typical of untrained but determined Russian flyers were usually ripped to pieces by the Flak 37 guns. The 588th, however, developed another tactic. They flew in formations of three. Two would go in first, attract the attention of the searchlights, and when all of them pointed to them in the sky, separate suddenly in opposite directions and maneuver wildly to try to shake them off. The German searchlight operators would follow them, while the third bomber who was farther back snuck in through the darkened path made by her 2 comrades and hit the target unopposed. She would then get out, rejoin with the other two, and they would switch places until all three had delivered their payloads. It took nerves of steel to be a decoy and willingly attract enemy fire, but as Nadya Popova said: "It worked."
    sourse http://pratt.edu/~rsilva/sovwomen.htm

    http://1.soverkon.z8.ru/2005/35/8.php
    ...Almost no one knows, but in Germans, to the very end of the war of the rewards sparingly related to the distribution, for biased "PO -2" automatically was relied iron cross. By the way, the same reward awaited that, for whom it was possible to destroy reactive "Katyusha rocket launcher". The tactics was developed: searchlights catch aircraft, and the destroyer (on the turn they was on duty entire night) approaches it to the short distance and shoots down point blank. With the searchlights in Germans, alas, was everything normal, with the destroyers also, and since the height of "work" "PO -2" 300 it was meter, to leave, after falling into the ray of searchlight, there were chances in effect not. They did not take prisoner of girls - yes they were not surrendered, representing that it awaits them. German sources describe the cases, when, after shooting on the earth last cartridge clip from the pistol, female fliers rushed into the flame of the burning aircraft. Or, after unscrewing cap with that caught into the bag from the gas mask of incendiary bomb (to weight in it not more than kilogram), they threw it itself under the feet, setting in action the sensitive membrane of fuse and converting itself into the living bonfire. The same sources assure, that the Germans always buried them with the military honors as the worthy enemy, above dust of whom it is not shameful and head to bow

    Night Witches'
    Polikarpov Po-2/U-2 Aircraft

    Here the interesting short movie:
    ftp://clon.mediazona.ru/pub/VIDEO/Chevan/
    "Nights witches" mpeg clip (17 Mb)

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    I wonder how long it will take for someone here to claim that the PO-2 was part of some secret Russian plot to dominate Europe.

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    Thanks Chevan for your thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasa
    I wonder how long it will take for someone here to claim that the PO-2 was part of some secret Russian plot to dominate Europe.
    Jasa, your useless post here isn't much appreciated. Will you contribute here or you'll fulfill your dreams posting at http://www.revolutionaryleft.com/ ?
    Regimentul 38 "Neagoe Basarab"
    Divizia 10 Infanterie


    101st Airborne

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasa
    I wonder how long it will take for someone here to claim that the PO-2 was part of some secret Russian plot to dominate Europe.
    I wonder how long it will take for such an apparently educated human being such as yourself to grow up into an adult and stop being so childish?.

    Please stick to topics.

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    Very interesting Chevan - thanks.

    Although I do wonder when I read things like this:

    "German sources describe the cases, when, after shooting on the earth last cartridge clip from the pistol, female fliers rushed into the flame of the burning aircraft. Or, after unscrewing cap with that caught into the bag from the gas mask of incendiary bomb (to weight in it not more than kilogram), they threw it itself under the feet, setting in action the sensitive membrane of fuse and converting itself into the living bonfire. "

    How much is that true? Did one person do it and it became an urban legend or was it in fact common practice? I do hope I am not doing these brave women a disservice in questioning that but when it comes down to it most people would choose life (and what ever horrors captivity might bring) to suicide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arhob1 View Post
    Very interesting Chevan - thanks.

    Although I do wonder when I read things like this:

    "German sources describe the cases, when, after shooting on the earth last cartridge clip from the pistol, female fliers rushed into the flame of the burning aircraft. Or, after unscrewing cap with that caught into the bag from the gas mask of incendiary bomb (to weight in it not more than kilogram), they threw it itself under the feet, setting in action the sensitive membrane of fuse and converting itself into the living bonfire. "
    Uooomph, it was looong waiting. I wondered if someone will notice such subtle point.

    Dear Chevan, can we see your "German sources"? Please...please...

    This Forum want to be serious and we are trying to support all claims with accessible and documented sources.
    Thanks a lot, mate!


    In return I tell you a joke:

    "Eastern front. Winter. Ivan is entering his seargants trench bunker.
    - Comrade starschina, German tanks coming!
    - How many?
    - Four, comrade starschina! Tigers!
    - Good, Vanya, here you have a handgranade! Destroy the bastards! For Stalin and Motherland!
    - Yes, comrade starschina! For Great Stalin!

    After 20 minutes Vania is back.
    - Comrade starschina, Tigers destroyed!
    - All of them?
    - No, only three of them. The last one run away...
    - Oy, Vanya, Vanya... So, where is handgrenade? Give me back my handgrenade!"

    Cheers,

    Lancer44

    Chevan! Give me back my handgrenade!

    .


    "Accuse them of murdering three men and a dog, and they will triumphantly produce the dog alive."
    --Fr. George Tyrell, about Jesuits ca. 1900

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    Quote Originally Posted by arhob1 View Post
    Very interesting Chevan - thanks.

    Although I do wonder when I read things like this:

    "German sources describe the cases, when, after shooting on the earth last cartridge clip from the pistol, female fliers rushed into the flame of the burning aircraft. Or, after unscrewing cap with that caught into the bag from the gas mask of incendiary bomb (to weight in it not more than kilogram), they threw it itself under the feet, setting in action the sensitive membrane of fuse and converting itself into the living bonfire. "

    How much is that true? Did one person do it and it became an urban legend or was it in fact common practice? I do hope I am not doing these brave women a disservice in questioning that but when it comes down to it most people would choose life (and what ever horrors captivity might bring) to suicide.
    Hi Arhob.
    I think, i can explain it for you.
    Don't forget the special feature of Eastern front.
    This was a ideological cruel battle without any principles of humanity. From the Nazi's point the Soveit army was a "herd of low race" under of command of Jews.Soveit war-prisoners were holded in terruble condition.


    Don't forget, that some of these brave girls was a jewish.
    They hadn't any illusions about german's captivity.
    Read as example , story of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya ( she was brutally murdered by germans)
    http://aeronautics.ru/archive/wwii/b...ia/contact.htm

    Becouse the commander of 46 Gvard air regiment was the Evdokia Bershanskaj (jewish girl) , chief of staff was Irina Rakobolskaj (jewish girl).
    Polina Gelman and Hatalij Merclin-Cravcova (both are the jevish girls) become a hero of Soviet Union.
    http://www.aif.ru/online/aif/1270/41_02

    Evdokia Bershanskaj - commander of 46 regiment, she prsonaly flied to the most dangerous actions.

    This beautiful and brave girls knew about german's henocide and Soviet propoganda active spreaded it to the all of Soviet sitizents.
    Soviet propogande never told about jewish victim , it told about cryel murder of the soviet citizents.
    These were a mortal enemies for the germans.
    Do you know Arhob , what can be more danger then jewish women in revenge.
    I think nothing.
    In the daytime German aviation ruled in air (till 1943), but when night was coming ...
    ...they appeared from nowhere, they planned on their primitive aircraft with the turned-off motors, they stole up at the minimum height to the victim... ..and threw small bombs almost without the oversight.
    These "witchs" did not give to the Germans of rest even at night.
    This is why they hated them.
    The situation become such seriouse for the germans that since august 1943 they used against girls (taken from the western front) the nights fighters Me-110.
    Tatiana Grajdankina recalled
    http://www.ap.altairegion.ru/122-03/gv.html#0
    This night on 1 August, 1943, we will never forget .
    Then during one night German night fighter burnt above Taman four our aircraft, perished 8 girls. We encountered for the first time this enemy, but rapidly they learned to recognize him.
    If in the target area searchlights work, but keeps silent antiaircraft artillery, which means, somewhere next flies defensive patrol German "night-light". Recovery facilities from them was only one: to fly as it is below as possible. High-speed fighter for the intelligible reasons to be thrust feared to the low altitudes. But also we tried not to descend lower than 300 meter - it was risk obtain "into the belly" the splinters of its own bombs....

    ...Our regiment consisted only of women. However, at one time served fellow- radio mechanic. But after during the sequential bath day they gave out to it the complete complete set of female underwear, entreated command to transfer it where conveniently, only further "from these devils wenches". In spite of the purely female association, after only two or three months on the effectiveness of combat work we were equaled with the man parts. But even through half a year our regiment by the first in the division it became guard

    If PO -2 was hit and fell to the land, then because of the small height and the low speed girls were still alive sometimes.
    What did them ? The cases of suicide were not the rarity.
    They simply used the small incendiary bomb, which they always conveyed with themselves on the knees and threw with the hands.

    Perhaps , this was a particular case , but i never hear , that the germans captered the alive of those girls.

    Combat way of 46 Gard regiment
    ..Autumn of 1941 - the formation of female it was regimental charged to the Marina Raskova. Female air regiment was completed in the Volga Region. Here girls mastered combat specialties.
    ..June 1942 - regiment obtained the first baptism of fire at the southern Front. Were brought bomb attacks on the enemy troops on the passages across The Miuss rivers, Severskiy Donets, Don and the suburbs of Stavropol'.
    ...August- December 1942 - personnel of regiment participated in the defense of Vladikavkaz.
    ...January 1943 - participation in the breakthrough of the defensive lines of enemy on Terek river.
    ...March- September 1943 - female fliers participated in the offensive operations on the breakthrough of the defensive "blue line" of fascists in the Taman peninsula, in the release of Novorossisk.
    ...November 1943 - May -1944 - assistance in the debarkation of the Marines in the Kerch peninsula, to the release of Crimean peninsula and Sevastopol.
    ...June-July 1944 - participation for the release Of mogileva, Chervenya, Minsk, Belostoka.
    ...August 1944 - female flier accomplished the combat missions to the territory of Poland, they participated in the release it was municipal Avgustiv, Warsaw, Ostrolenok.
    ...January 1945 - regiment battled in East Prussia.
    ...March 1945 - participation in the release of Gdynia and Gdansk.
    ...April 1945 - regiment helped the ground-based parts of the Soviet Army in the penetration of the defense of enemy on the river Oder, were delivered bomb attacks according to the stepping back enemy
    By the way , our girls reached aid into Warsaw in august-september 1944. From the small height they with the high accuracy discarded weapon and ammunition for the rebels. it's a pity, It was already too late.

    32 girls-pilots were perished since 1941 to 1945.
    23 pilots and the navigator of regiment are honored the Title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
    On 15 October, 1945, regiment was disbanded, personnel was demobilized.

    P.S. Amazing photo of flying PO-2 in Murmansk.

    http://russia.simflight.com/modules....iewtopic&t=253

    Cheers.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancer44 View Post
    This Forum want to be serious and we are trying to support all claims with accessible and documented sources.
    Really, so when you bore nonsense about Kingtigers in Poland, was it based on the serious sources.
    In return I tell you a joke:

    "Eastern front. Winter. Ivan is entering his seargants trench bunker.
    - Comrade starschina, German tanks coming!
    - How many?
    - Four, comrade starschina! Tigers!
    - Good, Vanya, here you have a handgranade! Destroy the bastards! For Stalin and Motherland!
    - Yes, comrade starschina! For Great Stalin!

    After 20 minutes Vania is back.
    - Comrade starschina, Tigers destroyed!
    - All of them?
    - No, only three of them. The last one run away...
    - Oy, Vanya, Vanya... So, where is handgrenade? Give me back my handgrenade!"
    Ha Ha Ha ...
    Nice joke, mate.
    Chevan! Give me back my handgrenade!
    At any time, my friend , At any time
    American humour:
    How did the Germans conquer Poland so fast???
    The Germans marched in backwards and poles thought they were leaving!
    Take your handgrenade back , comrade Lancer ...

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    Really, so when you bore nonsense about Kingtigers in Poland, was it based on the serious sources.

    Ha Ha Ha ...
    Nice joke, mate.

    At any time, my friend , At any time

    Take your handgrenade back , comrade Lancer ...
    He,he ,he, "marching backwards" ... good one.

    I told you that I had no book on hand and admitted mistake!

    Do you know how many gears French tanks had?
    - Three reverse and one forward - this one forward, just in case Germans were at the rear area.

    Perhaps we can set thread with WWII jokes?

    Cheers,

    Lancer44

    .


    "Accuse them of murdering three men and a dog, and they will triumphantly produce the dog alive."
    --Fr. George Tyrell, about Jesuits ca. 1900

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    By the way , our girls reached aid into Warsaw in august-september 1944. From the small height they with the high accuracy discarded weapon and ammunition for the rebels. it's a pity, It was already too late.
    Not in August. From 13-th of September until almost last days, 28-th of September 1944 soviet Po-2 dropped almost 55 tons of ammunition, weapons and food.
    Unfortunately too late.

    I can confirm this from my mother stories. (She was there in Warsaw). Insurgent called Po-2 "sewing machines" - they had distinctive engine sound resembling foot pedal sewing machines.
    Drops from very low altitude - 50 or less meters were dangerous for those really brave pilots - German positions were were close.
    Food consisted mainly of condensed milk, canned meat and dry biscuits.
    I remember my mother told me that biscuits on impact always turned into crumbs. Mixed with milk and water they were cooked into sort of porridge.
    It is true that many lives were saved because the whole population was starving.
    Ammunition dropped in bags - cases were mostly bent and my mom and her sister were employed in workshop which was salvaging bullets.
    F-1 handgrenades were very effective and prized by insurgents. Their own production handgrenades were more fire crackers than weapon.

    This help could not save Uprising. It was doomed already 7-th of August.
    Only then, effective offensive would save the town. By mid September Warsaw was already largely ruined.

    Thanks for interesting stories about "night witches".

    Regarding Po-2. I had seen them flying in Poland when I was 10 years old.
    Undestructible aircraft which needed somthing like 50 metres of relatively flat field to take off and land.

    Cheers,

    Lancer44
    Last edited by Lancer44; 09-11-2006 at 05:38 AM. Reason: Spelling...

    .


    "Accuse them of murdering three men and a dog, and they will triumphantly produce the dog alive."
    --Fr. George Tyrell, about Jesuits ca. 1900

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancer44 View Post
    Do you know how many gears French tanks had?
    - Three reverse and one forward - this one forward, just in case Germans were at the rear area.

    Perhaps we can set thread with WWII jokes?
    HA HA HA.
    Why not ,mate. Good idea. Will you begin it?
    Not in August. From 13-th of September until almost last days, 28-th of September 1944 soviet Po-2 dropped almost 55 tons of ammunition, weapons and food.
    Certainly from 13 september , mate, my mistake.
    In august girl just supported Rokossovsky army in the way to the Eastern bank of Vistula.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default radar

    The Germans had decent radar. I would have thought they could detect the planes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cojimar 1945 View Post
    The Germans had decent radar. I would have thought they could detect the planes.
    The redar is not much effective for the plywood airplains like Po-2.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    The redar is not much effective for the plywood airplains like Po-2.
    ... Or at low altitude.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arhob1 View Post
    ... Or at low altitude.
    Exactly mst arhob
    And with cut off engines it was absolutly invisible and inaudible at night.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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