The Night Witches
With outdated biplanes and no radio, no lights, no defenses and no parachutes, these WW2 pilots terrorized the Germans: all women, all true. Sometimes groundbreaking has to be done from the air.
This is a straight-forward action movie about a group of fearless pilots who would do anything to defend their country. There is no overlay of a love or family subplot, just an old-fashioned set-up-the-group-and-deliver war movie similar to The Dirty Dozen.
Germany attacks Russia in 1942. Marina Raskova, the first female Hero Of The Soviet Union and a qualified pilot / navigator, is exasperated to find that she is given a desk job in Moscow and that no women are allowed on the front line unless nurses.
Although not a feminist she sees this as a waste of natural resources and fights male prejudice within the system to allow an all-women air-force regiment, using her fame and culminating with landing a biplane on Stalin’s private estate.
Seeing the propaganda value, Stalin gives the go-ahead. Given the lack of aircraft, Raskova is forced to use small, old wooden / canvas biplanes normally used for training and crop-dusting. The 588 regiment is formed, almost all 17-25 eager women bend on revenge and training begins. Slowly the male prejudice subsides when they see how proficient the women are.
With no lights, radio, defences nor parachutes the women glide in silently and start to bomb the German front lines, averaging ten sorties a night for each pilot/navigator in their flying tinderboxes.
The Germans are initially at a loss. The biplanes are too small to be heard and do not show up on infrared nor radio locators. They are also too slow for the more modern German fighters to engage in a dog-fight. They become so frustrated and scared that the act of simply shooting down one of the biplanes is awarded with an Iron Cross.
What follows next is a cat and mouse game of evolving tactics as each trumps the other, culminating in a raid that changes the course of the war, albeit at a cost.
An average air regiment were awarded two Heroes Of The Soviet Union. 588 received twenty-four.
The Great Escape