Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Russian and East European Studies

First Advisor

Stephen Berk

Second Advisor

Kristin Bidoshi


Russia, female, pilot, aviation, combat, war, United States, WASP


This thesis explores the combat roles of Soviet and American airwomen during World War II. Both the Soviet Union and the United States utilized women in the war effort between 1943-1945 in different capacities. The United States and the USSR were in very different geographical locations when it came to Germany; the US was across the Atlantic Ocean and not in a vulnerable position while the USSR was fighting a war on its home turf. The need for soldiers was very different. In addition, the cultures of the two countries were very different in their attitudes towards the equality between men and women. Communist ideology dictated that both genders were capable of the same work whereas in the US, society was still heavily inclined towards patriarchal norms.

The Soviet Union was in desperate need of soldiers as German moved farther into the interior of the country. Due to the geographic size of the country, Stalin had no trouble filling his quotas and was willing to accept massive numbers of casualties. In addition to conscripting men, women could join the Red Army in a variety of roles, one of those roles were pilots. In 1941 Marina Raskova was given permission to form Aviation Group 122 which would contain three regiments comprised entirely of women. Those regiments included the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, the 122nd Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment. The women of these regiment took part in numerous combat missions and suffered numerous casualties.

In the United States, most of the jobs women took were in the factories as the men went to war and they kept the United States afloat. Women joined the Army Nurses Core (ANC), the Women’s Auxiliary Core (WAC), and took on various administrative roles, but never entered the war in a combat capacity. In 1942, the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) were formed before they were merged to become the WASPs. Though these women never saw combat, they were responsible for ferrying aircrafts and commanders and were expected to help train the ground troops. The WASPs were disbanded in 1944. This thesis examines both Aviation Group 122 as well as the WASPs in their formation, their equipment and missions, their relationships with their male counterparts, and their disbandment.