Kicking off the Cranky Ladies blog tour: The Night Witches

Cranky Ladies logoThis post is written as part of the Women’s History Month Cranky Ladies of History blog tour. If  you would like to read more about cranky ladies from the past, you might like to support our Pozible campaign, crowd-funding an anthology of short stories about Cranky Ladies of History from all over the world.

I thought it only fitting I start the month off right with my own post! I generally would focus on Australian women of history, and I will definitely look to them later in the month, but I felt I had to write about some cranky ladies I only recently learned about, because they were just so amazing.

Katya Ryabova and Nadya Popova of the Night Witches

In World War II, the Russian 588th Air Regiment (also later known as the 46th Taman Guards Bomber Regiment) made more than 23,000 combat flights. This regiment was so successful against the Germans they were dubbed Nachthexen, Night Witches, because the pilots (and incidentally the navigators, officers and mechanics) were all women. Given obsolete equipment, the women devised techniques that made the most of the aircraft and methods of evading detection on their missions, and despite sexual harassment from male colleagues and the sleep deprivation and stress that went with the job, were collectively awarded highest military honours, and 23 members were awarded the Gold Star of Hero of the Soviet Union. 30 air crew members of the regiment died during combat, from a total of over 200 serving during the war.

While it’s perhaps a little blood-thirsty to start the month out with war heroes, I think it is important to remember that women like these played significant roles in conflict throughout history. They aren’t always recognised war heroes, they aren’t always remembered by name, but they are always there.


BitnikGr. (2010, November 2). “night witches”! female combat pilots on eastern front! part-1!. Available at: [Accessed: 27 Feb 2014].

Dowdy, L. (2008). Aviation – the night witches. [online] Retrieved from: [Accessed: 27 Feb 2014].

Naughton, R. (2002). Marina raskova and the soviet women pilots of world war ii. [online] Retrieved from: [Accessed: 27 Feb 2014].

Night Witches. (2014, January 15). [online] Retrieved from: [Accessed: 27 Feb 2014].

Noggle, A. (1994). A dance with death. College Station: Texas A & M University Press.