Snipers as a class of soldier have a bad enough reputation as is so it is somewhat understandable that we haven't seen female snipers popping up in popular culture a lot lately. The recent film Enemy at the Gates told the story of Vasiliy Zaitsev's duel with the famous German sharpshooter Erwin König during the Battle of Stalingrad but you may be surprised to know that during World War II more than 1000 women graduated from Soviet sniper school. Vasiliy's love interest Tania Chernova was herself credited with more than 24 confirmed kills but she was a rank amateur compared to the real experts.

Let's take a look at the leaderboard shall we?

The most confirmed kills in WWII can be attributed to Simo Hayha with 542. Both König and Zaitsev were credited with 400 kills apiece. Not far behind is:

Lyudmila M. Pavlichenko with 309...that's Major Pavlichenko to you buddy!

Nataly V. Kovshova and Maria Polivanova (Female team) = 300

Aliya Moldagulova = 91

Lidiya Gudovanceva = 76

Forget 'female' snipers. Pavlichenko was easily one of the most efficient snipers of all time. A rather independent young lady she began working in an arsenal after the ninth grade and shortly thereafter joined a shooting club. She joined the army at age 24 when the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany. Despite numerous rebuffs that she should become a nurse, she persisted and entered combat in August 1941.

In the next two and a half months, with the aid of a bolt action 1891/30 Moisan Nagant, she is reported to have ended the existence of 187 German soldiers. By June 1942 she had 309 confirmed kills when she was finally wounded by a mortar. That is an average of about 2.5 kills per day in case you are having trouble with perspective. Thirty days later Lyudmila is having tea with Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House as the first Soviet citizen to be received by the President. After touring the United States on a morale/propaganda tour for a bit she returned the the Soviet Union as a sniper instructor and was officially awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal as well as becoming the subject of two postage stamps. The next time the old 'women in combat' debate breaks out you might consider mentioning Ms. Pavlichenko's name.

...ummm, Bonnie who?

sources: Soviet Awards Digest

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