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Exhibition reviews Điện Biên Phủ in the Air campaign

Update: December, 16/2017 - 10:07
A visitor learns about the Điện Biên Phủ in the air campaign in 1972. — VNS Photo Minh Thu
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội, Hải Phòng and their vicinities were heavily bombarded in an aerial raids in December 1972, known in Việt Nam as "Điện Biên Phủ in the Air” and in the West as the 1972 Christmas bombing.

It was the last US military campaign during the war and lasted for 12 days from Dec 18 until 29th.

Over 12 days and nights,  the Hà Nội air defence grids and all across the north of Việt Nam shot down 4,181 airplanes, including 34 expensive B52s, referred to as flying fortresses, which had their own radar bomb navigation systems with well-trained crews.

Linebacker II was to be a "maximum effort" bombing campaign to "destroy major target complexes in the Hà Nội and Hải Phòng areas, which could only be accomplished by B-52s”, according to military experts.

It saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since the end of World War II.

But the people of Hà Nội triumphed over the heavy bombardment, although more than 1,600 civilians were killed and three Mic 21 were shot down. The Hanoians had named the 12 day and night campaign their Điện Biên Phủ in the Air, recalling their decisive victory over the French in 1954.

 The victory under Hà Nội skies prompted the U.S. return to the negotiating table in Paris and finally sign the peace accords that they had previously refused to.

The Điện Biên Phủ in the Air is now remebered through photos and objects displayed at the exhibition called “Battle of Điện Biên Phủ in the Air and the Trench of the Command Post of Operations.”

The exhibition opened yesterday in Hà Nội to mark the 45th anniversary of the victory.

“The exhibition recalls the proud of history of the army and people of the capital,” said Trần Việt Anh, director of the Thaêng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre.

“It emphasises the role of the trenches and the people who witnessed first hand our Điện Biên Phủ in the air  victory in late 1972,” he said.

The exhibition is divided into two parts, the ‘Battle of Điện Biên Phủ in the Air’ and the ‘Trench of the Command Post of Operations aka T1 bunker’.

The victory of the Điện Biên Phủ in the Air campaign in 1972 defeated the US aggressors, forcing them to return to the negotiating table and sign the Paris Agreement on January 27, 1973.

The exhibition of Điện Biên Phủ in the air campaign recalls the proud of history of the army and people of the capital. — VNS Photo Minh Thu

Phạm Thị Thanh, a mapper in the trench of the Command Post of Operations for the 12 days and nights in 1972, said their mission was to detect and follow US aircraft. When the US planes took off from any base, in south Việt Nam, they had to follow and mark their routes.

She still remembers her shift on December 18, 1972. “Groups of five planes that flew in zigzag paths indicated they were common fighter aircrafts,” she said. “Groups of three planes flying in a straight path were definitely B52s. They flew in straight lines but were very swift.”

“Back then, I did not understand why the leaders and commanders in the trench asked us to focus carefully on the mission and that we need more mappers.”

“We did not know exactly what was coming but thought about the dangerous situation on that day. I still remeber that on that day three B52 aircrafts entered, but only two of them escaped so we guessed one was shot down. Soon after, we were informed that was true.”

“Everyone in the trench clapped in joy and together celebrated the victory,” she said.

The trench of the Command Post of Operations, built in 1964, received reports and gave directions throughout the country. During the 12 days and nights in 1972, operations from bunker T1 helped shoot down several B52 planes.

Today T1 is an important part of the Thaêng Long Imperial Citadel relic, making it an outstanding heritage site in Hà Nội .

The exhibition will run until the end of the year at the Thăng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre in Hà Nội .

During the exhibition, the organiser will also screen documentaries and hold talks with witnesses and experts. — VNS


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