Nadezhda Fedutenko (1915-1978) was a Soviet pilot and squadron commander who served during World War II.
From a young age Fedutenko had a fascination with planes and was a member of an aircraft modelling club in her teens. In 1935 she qualified as both a pilot and parachute instructor and begun a career as a civil aviation pilot ferrying passengers and cargo.
With the advent of World War II she continued to serve as a pilot, flying the Polikarpov R-5, a lightweight reconnaissance bomber. She frequently flew at low altitude with no escort, delivering supplies and evacuating wounded from enemy-occupied territory. Having accumulated several thousand flying hours, Fedutenko went on to become a squadron commander in the ‘Borisov Guards’ dive bomber regiment, flying Petlyakov Pe-2 medium range bombers from January 1943 until the end of the war.
From 1943 to 1945, Fedutenko’s squadron flew more than 500 missions in support of Soviet ground troops, including 56 daylight missions. One of her most significant missions occurred on 2nd September 1943 when her divisional leader was shot down. Taking command, Fedutenko led the 54 aircraft in a successful attack on a fortified enemy position near El'nia, enabling ground troops to launch their offensive.
At the end of the war, Fedutenko’s was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest military decoration available, in addition to several further medals in recognition of her outstanding service.