Russia's three all-female air regiments flew more than 30,000 missions along the Eastern Front in WWII. At home they were known as Stalin's Falcons, but terrified German troops called them the Night Witches.
Here - with the help of archive images - Radio 4's Lucy Ash tells their story, and discovers that their extraordinary exploits have inspired others decades later.
Images courtesy RIA Novosti, Getty Images, Anna Yegorova, Garth Ennis and Russ Braun.
Night Witches will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 2002 on Monday 2 November 2009. It will then be available for seven days on the BBC iPlayer.
Slideshow production by Paul Kerley. Publication date 2 November 2009.