As I mentioned in Taylor, Welch and Miller [ https://5280nup.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/taylor-welch-and-miller/ ] There was a woman portrayed in the movie Tora Tora Tora that was likely seen by most as a filler scene in a movie about men and war.
Cornelia Fort was a civilian pilot in Hawaii operating out of John Rodgers Airport near Pearl Harbor. On the morning of December 7th, 1941 she was instructing a student on take offs and landings when a Japanese fighter plane came at them head on. She took over the controls and evaded the much faster Japanese plane until they landed when the Japanese plane strafed the field killing two men, but not her or her student.
She was the first pilot, or in fact American to encounter the Japanese on that morning. Jeff Donnell [a woman] portrayed her in the movie.
This was not her last note in history. After the start of the war she moved back to the states [ Hawaii was not a state then ] since civilian flights were grounded in Hawaii. Soon after she was the second woman asked to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots [WASP]. This was a service that ferried military planes across the United States. This helped free up men to fight in combat.
On March 24th, 1943 she died when another plane collided with hers near Merkel, Texas. This is her second note to aviation history, this accident made her the first woman pilot killed in the service of her country.
There were 1,074 female pilots in the WASP services in WWII. They ferried every kind of plane flown in WWII including bombers and the fastest and most temperamental of the fighter planes. They were denied military classification until 1977. In the entire war not a single WASP pilot quit. Several died.
Many women died in service of their nation in WWII. Many received no benefits from their service due only to being women. But the legacy led us to today when women are now trying out to be seals.
The genders will never be equal, nor should they be. But the 20th century saw a great deal of change and evolution in the genders and who has become heros in service to their nation.