Until 1944, the Night Witches flew without a parachute to increase the number of bombs they could carry, reaching 15 departures per night, guided by the brightness of flames and compasses. They approached the target by gliding low and with the engine off over the Nazi camps, which produced a devastating psychological effect. There was almost no sound but the whistling wind as they brushed the structure of the plane. The Germans called them Nachthexen, “The Night Witches”, when compared to the noise of a flying broom.
The aviators also gained notoriety for finding enemy targets without radar help in the midst of darkness. Adverse conditions of famine, cold, bad clothing, and technologically inferior aircraft did not prevent them from carrying out their missions of harassment bombing and precision bombing. They accomplished 24,000 missions and dropped 23,000 tons of bombs on the Nazis.
“The Night Witches” was the name that the German army gave to the military aviators of the 588th Regiment of Notary Bombers, later made 46th Regiment of Notary Bombers of the “Taman” Guard. It was the most decorated unit in the Soviet Air Force.
In 1981, Yevgeniya Zhi Gulenko, one of the group’s aviators, directed the film “V nebe ‘Nochnye vedmy'”. (The night witches in the sky), available on the Internet. In Brazil Carlos and Ana Daróz launched the book “Witches of the Night”, from 2018, published by Somos.