Here are a handful of shots taken at the Vietnam People’s Air Force Museum (Bao Tàng Phòng Không – Không Quân), which sits on the eastern edges of Hanoi. A google translation of the sign above: All for the protection of the skies of our Vietnamese Fatherland.
With the remains of some 25 planes and various support vehicles neatly spread out over the unused Bach Mai airfield, there’s a lot here that will be of interest to aircraft and history buffs, particularly the many downright odd-looking Soviet-made copters. In that sense, the museum did have a certain appeal, a freeze frame of warplane technology from the 1960s and 1970s.
But what I mainly saw when looking at the tons upon tons of metal rusting and rotting in the heat and smog of Hanoi was yet another reminder of the insane amounts of money and resources man insists on wasting to wreak havoc upon his fellow man. And no – I’m not making light of the sacrifices young soldiers were forced to make –in this case both (and mainly) Vietnamese, who were defending their homeland against outside aggression, and troops sent by France and the US to fight unjust and unwinnable battles. It was simply an observation, scribbled into my notebook, about how resources devoted to making war always far outweigh those that are invested in making peace.
Below, a downed US plane.
The airfield, built by the French in 1917, provides ample room for what is mostly a vast junkyard, one brimming with historical and patriotic symbolism. The planes take up much of the space and attention, but I found myself more drawn to the plethora of rusted support and ground vehicles. And to their awkward and colorful descriptions, like the one describing the bulldozer below:
Bulldoger No UL-269 – This bulldoger used by 28th air field engineer battalion in building head quarters, missile, radar, shelling fighting battle fiellds, in building secret airfields participating in our airfare and air defense glorieus victories.
I arrived quite late in the day –just after a visit the Thanhxuan Peace Village— and had less than 30 minutes to rush through the museum building itself. The majority of the exhibits focused on the Second Indochina War –the “American War” to the Vietnamese and “The Vietnam War” in the US– and included a good stock of artifacts collected before and after the victory. Here are some introduced by the subheading, ‘Objects Collected From US-Puppet Bases in the South on Liberation Day’.
A few more images from the museum building, including its wall of honor, the landing hold for Soyuz 37 which included Vietnamese pilot Pham Tuan, the first Asian in space, and photos and a statue of Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.
Vietnam People’s Air Force Museum /Bao Tàng Phòng Không – Không Quân
No. 171 and 179, Truong Chinh Street, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi.
8-11am and 1:30-4:30pm Tuesday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.
Note: photos taken during a visit in October 2010. A recent photo request called for a stock update.