Wednesday, May 30, 2012
She scored her first solo kill on her second combat mission, then turned around almost instantly and shot down a decorated German ace with eleven kills to his credit. Over the next year, she flew 66 combat missions -- sometimes four or five per day -- tallying up twelve solo kills in all and an additional half dozen or so assisted kills. No wonder the Lieutenant General who commanded her called her a "very aggressive person" (Russian for "in-your-face woman") and a "born fighter pilot."
Ultimately being awarded "Free Hunter" status, Senior Lieutenant Litvyak was given permission to fly missions on her own initiative. Wounded more than once, she'd fly bleeding back to base and, refusing medical leave, go right back out to fight some more. Hardly the type of woman to die in bed, the last time she was seen, on August 1, 1943, strapped into the cockpit of her plane, the 21-year-old "White Rose of Stalingrad" was being chased by eight German fighter planes. Of course.