Mariya Dolina was a Soviet pilot who served with the distinguished Borisov Guards dive bomber regiment during the Second World War.
Beginning her military service in July 1941, aged only 18, she initially flew biplanes before moving on to Petlyakov Pe-2 medium range bombers (pictured). Despite describing herself as “impulsive and excessively restless”, she became one of the best pilots of her unit.
During her military career she carried out 72 sorties and dropped a total of 45 tons of bombs on the enemy. On June 2 1943 her plane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft guns, disabling an engine and setting the plane on fire. Despite having lost her fighter escort her crew continued to successfully bomb the target and on the way back engaged 6 German fighters, 2 of which they destroyed.
By the end of the war Dolina had advanced to the rank of Guards Captain and was acting squadron commander of the Borisov Guards. She was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in recognition of her accomplishments.