Marina Raskova was the first women aviator in combat and founded the Night Witches. The Night Witches were a Russian combat unit in World War 2, and played a major role in the surrender of the Nazis. Raskova assembled over 1,000 female pilots who flew tiny planes made of plywood with no guns, radios or parachutes. They flew only at night because they would be such an easy target during the day. The planes flew so slow that Nazi planes tracking them would stall in mid-air. The average Night Witch was between 17 and 26 years old. They were trained to fly in a matter of months, where a typical pilot is trained over the course of years. The planes offered no protection against the elements and many of the pilots suffered frostbite in mid-air. In total they flew over 30,000 missions and lost only 30 pilots. They dropped over 23,000 tons of bombs on Germany in the last 3 years of the war. The Night Witches had 12 commandments, the first of which was "Be proud you are a woman". The Night Witches were disbanded at the end of World War 2.
Marina Raskova died in combat on January 14, 1943. She is a highly decorated war hero in Russia.