Gallery: American history in Hanoi's Vietnam Army Museum

Gallery: American history in Hanoi's Vietnam Army Museum

Like trophies commemorating Vietnam's finest hour, the majority of exhibits in the Vietnam Army Museum are American military relics

As an American touring Hanoi, I couldn't leave without seeing some of the history related to the Vietnam War. The two most notable sites are the "Hanoi Hilton", a prison where American pilots were held (John McCain included), and the Vietnam Army Museum. Travelers to Vietnam have written about the "war-torn lands and rice paddies" to such an extent that mentioning the after-effects of the Vietnam War on the country leaves you in danger of sounding clichéd, or even boring. One CNNGo writer has some tips for those looking to document their trip through the (war-torn) country. Thanks Helen

But the Vietnam Army Museum as a "tourist attraction" is somewhat of an enigma. One enters expecting to see tributes to the Vietnamese Army, only to discover more captured and wrecked American military hardware than Vietnamese. The most impressive of these displays is the "war meets art" mound of plane debris including a B-52, F-111 and a French transporter stacked high in the center of the courtyard and surrounded by other intact planes, a helicopter, and artillery. At the center of the pile is a poster of a female Viet Cong soldier dragging the wing of an American plane. 

While the hardware in the courtyard is the most impressive on display, and the focus of this post, it is not all there is to the museum. The Vietnamese are tough, and they know it. The understandable nationalistic pride on display can be seen in every room as various accounts detail the defeat of the invaders.

Information: Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Address: 28 A Dien Bien Phu, Hanoi. Tel: +84 4 8234 264. Website: btlsqsvn.org.vn, Admission: 20,000 VND (US$1), 5,000 VND per camera

Vietnam Army Museum courtyardThe centerpiece of the Vietnam Army Museum courtyard.

Seen from another angle, the stacked wreckage commands attention.

Old engines from downed aircraft.

Tactical CommandAn ensignia of the U.S. Airforce's "Tactical Command" as seen on the wreckage.

US Airforce ensignia on wingA U.S. Airforce ensignia.

This couple waved at me from the wing of the plane to take their picture.

 

Chris Anderson is the former associate editor of CNNGo based in Hong Kong and is now senior editor at Huffington Post Media Group.

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