Vietnamese Air Force Museum in Hanoi
|Three Russian designed MiG fighters occupy pride of place near the entrance to the Vietnamese Air Force Museum in Hanoi – a MiG-19 “farmer” in the foreground of this photo, with a MiG-15 “fagot” and a MiG-21 “fishbed” behind it.
Standing outside in the tropical heat and in Hanoi’s smog hasn’t helped preserve them, but they’re in pretty good condition and even feature a few extras, such as a rocket assist pod fitted on the MiG-21. As well as seeing them at this museum, I was also fortunate enough to get some photos of current day Vietnamese Air Force MiG-21s in action at Danang.
Other Soviet fixed wing aircraft at the museum include a Russian AN-2 Colt which is said to have been used in a rocket attack against a South Vietnamese radar installation, and a couple of training aircraft including a Czechoslovakian L-29 Delfin jet.
|You can expect to see American aircraft at any military museum in Vietnam… or at least pieces of them!
What you don’t often see is intact American aircraft, but this museum has them. These aircraft were not only captured intact at the end of the Vietnam war, they were incorporated into the Vietnamese Air Force and used in battle, first against the remnants of the South Vietnamese military, and then during Vietnam’s war against the government of Pol Pot in Cambodia.
The museum has five intact American aircraft on display, an O-1 Birddog observation plane, an A-37 Dragonfly ground attack jet, an F-5 fighter bomber, an A-1 Skyraider and this UH-1 Huey. They’re all in Vietnamese Air Force colors and most of them include descriptive plates of how they were used after capture.
|The American equipment was surprising to see, but the items I enjoyed most were the Russian designed helicopters.
The museum has several unusual beasts rarely seen in western aviation museums, such as the bizarre looking Kamov Ka-25 “Hormone” maritime helicopter with twin contra-rotating rotors and no tail rotor, an Mi-24A “Hind” in its assault configuration rather than the much more familiar gunship configuration, an Mi-4 “Hound” piston engined light transport and my personal favorite, the massive Mi-6 “Hook” which can lift twice as much as the largest American helicopter, the S-64 Tahre “Skycrane”, and can even carry 120 people in its high-density seating configuration.
Inside the museum you’ll see yet more shot down American military equipment, with some low-tech dioramas showing how the brave Vietnamese pilots shot down the imperialist running dog aggressors.
There’s also the forward section of a MiG-21 fighter that you can climb into, and then take a photograph to prove that you were there!
Other exhibits include the space capsule used to launch the first Vietnamese cosmonaut, and photographs of pilots with descriptions of their exploits in Vietnamese and English.