Female Snipers of the 3rd Shock Army, 1st Belorussian Front

 Russia was facing a threat to its existence in World War II. At the start of the war they could not compete with Germany in terms of technology, training, or skilled officers, but they had a formidable population and decided to use numbers to buy time while their army was a modern one. Mechanized was ready to fight.

Faced with such a dire need for soldiers and factory workers, the Soviet government called in about 8 million women, 800,000 of whom were serving in its armed forces.

One of the outstanding combat roles of women was sniper duty. Unlike other infantry roles that rely on physical strength, the best traits of a sniper are precision and patience. 2,000 female snipers were attributed to 12,000 confirmed killings by Soviet forces in World War II.

Unlike film depictions of snipers penetrating deep into enemy territory for high profile targets in actual combat, snipers are best used in a defensive role. While defending the area, snipers can fire at soldiers operating in the open from a ready position. Because of this the greatest period for Soviet snipers was between 1941 and 1943, the part of the war where they were largely on the defensive.

Ukrainian Lyudmila Pavlichenko, credited with 309 confirmed kills, is generally considered the top female sniper of all time, and one of the greatest military snipers of any gender. She became a celebrity during and after the war, as did Soviet sniper Rosa Shanina.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko and Rosa Shanina were both celebrated in post-war pop culture. Pavlichenko was the subject of the 2015 film Battle for Sevastopol, and the publication of Shanina's wartime diary made her a posthumous celebrity in '60s Russia.

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