During WWII, the Soviet Union, which already had a tradition of women in combat, was the first nation to use women pilots. After suffering huge male battle casualties in 1941, the government ordered all women without children who were not already engaged in war work to join the military. There were three all-woman regiments: fighter, bomber, and night bomber. Other women flew with male regiments and pilot Valentina Grizodubova was even the commander of a 300-man, long-range bomber squadron.

Lucy Stone - determined that men were reading the Bible in a way to suppress women, she worked her way through school to learn Greek and Latin to prove them wrong. Kept her last name, chopped her hair off, scandalously wore precursors to pants, was kicked out of church for arguing that women had the right to own property and to be able to divorce abusive alcoholic husbands. Considered a true radical for her time, she spoke in public frequently and headed multiple prominent womens organizatio...

“Lydia Litvyak and Katya Budanova are born. And then they stomp the living hell out of a bunch of Nazis.” These Russian pilots became the world’s only female fighting aces during World War II. They each racked up at least eleven kills and died in combat. Also: Nazis. Stomped the living hell out of them.

"Mukhtar Mai is a Pakistani woman who, after being gang-raped, was expected to commit suicide. Instead, she prosecuted her attackers and used compensation money to start schools, a women's shelter and an organization to support women from around Pakistan. We have a chapter about her story in Half the Sky."

During WWII 168 female pilots fought against all the odds for the right to aid the war effort. They were expected to fly wherever the need was greatest , in whatever aircraft was required - one in 10 women pilots died flying for the ATA. Their story is one of courage, sexism, patriotism but above all, a story about women who wanted to break the confines of the world they lived in - and reach for the skies ~

Bonnie and Clyde

Erich "Bubi" Hartmann, known as the Black Devil during World War II, was the greatest ace fighter pilot in the history of aviation with a credited 352 kills. Although he was forced to land his plane because of mechanical failure or damage from falling debris 14 times in his career, he was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Soviet sniper during WWII. A student at the time, Pavlichenko was among the first to volunteer for the armed forced when the Soviet Union was invaded and declined the opportunity to serve as a nurse instead of a soldier so as to put her badass shooting talents to good use. She went on to record 309 kills, making her the most successful female sniper in history. After she was wounded in battle, Pavlichenko traveled to the United States.

Katya Budanova (Катя Буданова), was a fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force during World War II. With 11 air victories, she was one of the world's two female fighter aces along with Lydia Litvyak.

Alija Moldagulova, Soviet Union, Most highly decorated female sniper in WWII.

Marie Curie was a woman before her time. Born in 1867, in Poland, she was a genius in physics and in chemistry; she is the first woman ever to receive a Nobel Prize and the only woman in history to receive two Nobel Prizes.

The youngest female partisan fighting against the fascists in Bulgaria in WWII. This picture is from October 1944. Elena Lagadinova was only 14-years-old. The chain around her neck was connected to her pistol so she would not lose it. She joined her father and three brothers fighting against the German-allied Bulgarian government when she was 11, running messages to the partisans while also trying to finish school.

Female WWII Pilots

Nadezhda Popova, who died on July 8, 2013, at 91, was one of the Soviet Union's "Night Witches," female bomber pilots who took on the Nazis during World War II. Popova flew 852 combat missions - 18 of those in one night - and was named a Hero of the Soviet Union. Later in life she said, “At night sometimes, I look up into the dark sky, close my eyes and picture myself as a girl at the controls of my bomber, and I think, ‘Nadya, how on earth did you do it?’ ”

Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran, June 2, 1947. Cochran's career spanned four decades from the 1930s to the 1960s. Among her many accomplishments, she won the prestigious long-distance Bendix Trophy Race in 1937, founded the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during WWII, and became the first woman to break the sound barrier in 1953. Here she stands in the cockpit of her North American P-51B Mustang. SI-86-533

photos of kamikaze pilots | Piloti kamikaze fotografati prima di una missione