Text & Pictures: Timothy Story & Lidwine Do Huu © sbap 2015
Aerial view of the site (Google earth)  

Bach Mai Airfield during the attack of December 21st, 1972
(US DOD Archives)

VPAF pilots wearing Soviet flying suits before a mission
(VPAF Archives)

The Vietnam People's Air Force Museum, Hanoi or Bao Tŕng Phňng Không - Không Quân is located on Truong Chinh Street in the Bach Mai District of Hanoi. The museum is on the endpoint of the disused Bach Mai Airfield. Bach Mai Airfield was used as the air defense command and control center for the Vietnamese People's Air Force during the Second Indochina War. Due to its location in the restricted area of a radius of 30 nautical miles (reduced to 10 in 1967) from the center of Hanoi and its proximity to the Bach Mai Hospital only 1 kilometer away, Bach Mai Airfield was off limits to US bombers during the early years of Operation (Rolling Thunder) with the result that North Vietnamese command and control was generally unmolested. Presidential approval was required for an attack on the airfield and this was done for the first time by F-105 Thunderchiefs of the 388th Fighter Wing on November 17, 1967. Bombing restrictions were lifted during Operation Linebacker I and the airfield was attacked on May 16, 1972. On December 21, 1972 during Operation Linebacker II, two B-52D's were lost to SA-2 missiles while attacking the airfield. On December 22, 1972 a string of bombs missed Bach Mai Airfield and instead hit Bach Mai Hospital.
The museum tells the history of the Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) from its formation in 1954 to the present day. There is a heavy emphasis on its role in the Second Indochina War and the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. The museum comprises one main building with displays on the history of the VPAF, biographies of VPAF aces, uniforms and flight suits, aircraft weaponry and engines, items from downed US aircraft and the forward fuselage of a MiG-21. Outside is a static park with aircraft from the VPAF and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force, Missiles, anti-aircraft guns and US wreckage trophies. Some of the exposed aircraft have a glorious history in the conflict as indicated by the information panels. Sadly, this state museum has no shop, no catalog or souvenirs can be found about the museum or the history of the Vietnam People's Air Force. The museum is open from Monday to Thursday and the week-end from 08:00 to 11:00 and 13:00 to 16:00. Entry fee is 20,000 VND

Address: Tôn Thât Tůng Kéo Dŕi, Khu'o'ng Mai, Thanh Xuân, Hŕ Nôi, Vietnam


Vietnam Air War in great lines
The first ground-air SA-2 Guideline missiles became operational in Northern Vietnâm in July 1965 operated by soviet military advisers. The participating American aircraft in operation "Rolling Thunder" were forced to cope with this threat by flying at lower altitudes and in doing so exposing themselves to interceptions by Mig-17 fighters from the popular Vietnamese air force. 
The Mig-21F-13 "Fishbed C" was introduced at the end of 1965 and April 1966 saw the arrival of the Mig-21PF "Fishbed D". The first unit being equipped with the newest fighter was the oldest fighter regiment from the Vietnamese Air Force, the 921 "Sao Dao". Most of the pilots, of which some future aces, were trained in the USSR flying the L-29 or the Mig-21U. In North Vietnâm pilots had to train on the Mig-15UTI or Chinese J-5 two seaters (local build version of the Mig-17). The 921 Regiment deployed its first operational Mig-21F-13 at the end of January 1966 together with the venerable Mig-17. 
At the signing of the Peace Accords in Paris on Januray 27th, 1973 (an agreement ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnâm), the popular Vietnamese airforce had 4 fighter and one transport regiment on strength and was developping a training asset capable of instructing 20 Mig-21 pilots at once. 
In 1965 it was only made up of one fighter and one transport regiment : the growth of this airforce was proportional to the conflict. After "Linebacker II", 42 Mig-21 pilots were sent to the USSR to be trained into night and bad weather flying. The Mig-21 participated in the final strike on the South in 1975 : their part was kept secret due to the presence of soviet military advisers... and two months after the re-unification of Vietnâm the oldest pilots gathered in South Vietnâm for a new challenge : form new fighter regiments with the equipment captured from the Americans. 
The war between North Vietnâm and the United States thus unfolded in three phases. From 1965 to 1968, from 1969 to 1971 and in 1972 and the first months of 1973. The US Navy recognizes the loss of 91 aircraft in aerial combat (of which 6 shot down by Chinese aircraft after entering this airspace) against the destruction of 193 ennemy airplanes and at least one Chinese. The North Vietnamese airforce claims the destruction of 320 ennemy aircraft against 134 losses. The Americans recognise also the loss of 22 aircraft which are not mentioned in the Northern Vietnamese archives. In return, 64 American losses are confirmed within the other side. The victory claims are possibly exagerated on both camps, but one has to note that although the ratio is slightly in favor of the Americans, the Mig-21 was not so unworthy as eventually suggested.

Air Defence Museum Hanoi Aircraft
Nguyen Van Bay's MiG-17F number 2047 which was used 
to bomb USS Oklahoma City April 19, 1972
Canopy details of 2047 OFAB 100-120 bomb
Mig 17F 2011 from 923 regiment  
MiG-21MF with 8 victory stars painted on its nose. 
One of the victories was a B-52D model, shot down 
on December 27th, 1972 by Pham Tuan. 
AA-1 Alkali radar guided missile inboard and a AA-2 Atoll IR-homing missile Center line tank of the Mig-21MF with local resident
MiG-21 PF "Fishbed-D" 4326 of Nguyen Van Coc  921 regiment AA2 “Atoll” (K13)
Soviet markings all over the plane SPRD-99 JATO 
Antonov An-2. This aircraft was used in the attack on a 
secret US radar site at Phou Pha Thi, battle of Lima Site 85
Mig-19SF Farmer (Shenyang J-6)  
Training plane HL-1
The Ministry of Defense and the High Command of Air Force
assigned the Institute for Aviation Military Technology 
to manufacture the coaching plane HL-1 in January 1981.
HL-1 was designed based on three models Pilatus P3 of Switzerland, 
Zlin 526 of former Czechoslovakia and Yak 18 of the former USSR.
Training plane HL-2
Was the second prototype.
Super-light amphibious plane VNS-41
Minister of Defence suggested to manufacture hydroplanes 
because Vietnam has a long coast and many rivers.
This is a light hydroplane made by Factory A41 of 
the Technical Department of Air Defense and Air Force, 
based on Russian Che-22 Korvet.
Interior of the VNS-41
Mil Mi-4, this was Ho Chi Minh's personal helicopter  
MiG-21PFM with 12 victory stars painted on its nose. 
one of the victories was US Air Force F-4E 67-0296, shot down 
on July 5th, 1972 by Nguy
en Tian Sâm
Center line drop tank
North Vietnam roundel Mig-21 PMF exhaust
Cessna A-37B "Dragonfly" South Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) Northrop F-5E "Tiger II" South Vietnam Air Force (VNAF)
  Bell UH-1 "Iroquois" H model South Vietnam Air Force (VNAF)
Kamov Ka-25BSH  
Mil Mi-24 Hind A  
Mil Mi 24 cockpit UB-32 57 mm rocket pods
Douglas A-1 Skyraider South Vietnam Air Force (VNAF)  
Mil Mi-6 Hook-A  
Aero L-29 Delfin Cessna U-17A "Skywagon"
Zlin Z-226 Trener TL-1 “Tu luc”  
The TL-1 is the first product studied, designed and successfully 
manufactured in 1984-1985 by Vietnamese Air Force Institute.
TL-1 was tested successfully ten times totaling 102 minutes on the air. 
This is a landmark of the development of the country’s aviation technology industry.
Air Defence Museum Hanoi wrecks and war trophies'
Some US aircraft engines wreckage McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II B
Air Defence Museum Hanoi Anti aircraft weaponry and radar systems
S-75 Dvina - SA-2 Guideline (NATO callsign) surface to air missile Fan Song missile control radar
SA-2 guidance system with Fan Song radar

S-125 Neva/Pechora SA-3 Goa (NATO callsign) surface to air missiles
SA-2 Guideline SA-2 Guideline fireboard (Bait)
AZP S-60  57 mm single-barrel anti-aircraft gun M1939 (52-K) 85 mm anti-aircraft gun
  KS-19 anti-aircraft gun
Front: ZPU-2 14.5 mm anti-aircraft twin guns
Back: AM SPAAG anti aircraft self propelled vehicle
61-K anti-aircraft gun
100 mm anti aircraft gun from 240 regiment
The gun shooted the 1st and 100th US aircarft over Hai Phong.
This was respectively on July 1st, 1965 and May 26th, 1967.
  P-15 radar (NATO reporting name "Flat Face A") mounted on a Zil truck
Air Defence Museum Hanoi inside exhibitions
  Nguyen Manh Hai & Pham Tuan flying suits
VPAF pilots souvenirs Tran Van Thi and Phuang Minh Hoa helmets
SA-2 Guideline control systems  
US aircraft wreckage  
  Vietcong woman
Left: Nguyen Nhat Chieu pressurised flying suit.
Middle: Self protection anti shards made by rope
Right: US pilot scarf with explanaitions in different language in case of ejection
12.7mm Anti Aircraft Gun  
  K-5M (AA-1 "Alkali") air-to-air missile
US trophies  
B-52 seat from an aircraft shooted down
on December 22nd, 1972
Link trainer Inside the link trainer
Aero 45 engine  
Vietnam in space...Interkosmos 1980

Interkosmos (Russian: Интеркосмос) was a Soviet space program, designed to help the Soviet Union's allies with manned and unmanned space missions.
The program included the allied east-European nations of the Warsaw Pact, CoMEcon, and other socialist nations like Afghanistan, Cuba, Mongolia, and Vietnam. In addition, pro-Soviet non-aligned nations such as India and Syria participated, and even France, despite it being a capitalist nation and part-time US/NATO ally.
Following the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, there were even talks between NASA and Interkosmos in the 1970s about a "Shuttle-Salyut" program to fly Space Shuttle missions to a Salyut space station, with later talks in the 1980s even considering flights of the future Soviet shuttles from the Buran program to a future US space station. While the Shuttle-Salyut program never materialized during the existence of the Soviet Interkosmos program, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Shuttle–Mir Program would follow in these footsteps and pave the way to the International Space Station.
Begun in April 1967 with unmanned research satellite missions, the first manned mission occurred in February 1978. Interkosmos missions enabled 14 non-Soviet cosmonauts to participate in Soyuz space flights between 1978 and 1988. The program was responsible for sending into space the first citizen of a country other than the USA or USSR; Vladimír Remek of Czechoslovakia. Interkosmos also resulted in the first black and Hispanic person in space, Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez of Cuba, and the first Asian person in space, Phạm Tuân of Vietnam. Of the countries involved, only Bulgaria sent two cosmonauts in space, though the French spationaut, Jean-Loup Chrétien, flew on two separate flights.
The manned Interkosmos missions also had political goals as a means of strengthening Soviet relations with the Warsaw Pact nations when evidence of discontent in them was raising its head.

Tuân Pham reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the VPAF before eventually training to be a research cosmonaut in the joint USSR-Vietnamese Space program. On April 1, 1979, he was selected as a member of the sixth international crew for the Intercosmos program. His backup was Bůi Thanh Lięm. Tuan, along with Soviet cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko, was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 23, 1980, on board Soyuz 37 en route to the Salyut 6 station.
During his time in orbit, Tuan performed experiments on the melting of mineral samples in microgravity. He also carried out plant experiments on azolla and photographed Vietnam from orbit for mapping purposes. Tuan was in space for 7 days, 20 hours, and 42 minutes. He completed 142 orbits, and was returned to earth on July 31, 1980.

  Tuân Pham (VPAF Archives)
Soyuz 37 (most probably Soyuz 36) module  
Vietnam People Air Force and Navy today...

The next major round of modernization started in 1995 with the delivery of five Su-27SKs and one Su-27UBK to 935 Fighter Regiment at Phan Rang. Two additional Su-27SKs and four Su-27UBKs were delivered from December 1997, but two Su-27UBKs were lost on delivery when their An-124 crashed at Irkutsk on 6 December 1997. They were replaced by two Su-27PUs in the summer of 1998. Four Su-30MK2Vs were delivered in November 2004, with some 24 delivered by late 2012. In 2011, all Su-27s were transferred to 940 Fighter Training Regiment at Phu Cat. This left only Su-30MK2Vs on 935 Fighter Regiment’s roster, and the unit seems to have moved to Bien Hoa by 2009. From June 2011, 923 Fighter Bomber Regiment at Tho Xuan is replacing its obsolete Su-22s with Su-30MK2Vs, with a dozen delivered so far. Vietnam also received ten new Yak-52 trainers from the Aerostar factory in Bacau, Rumania, between late 2009 and 2011. They are used by 920 Training Regiment at Nha Trang. 910 Training Regiment moved from Nha Trang to Dong Tac (Tuy Hoa) in late 2003. It still operates the L-39C and received fourteen additional aircraft from the Ukraine and Czech Republic between 2002 and 2008. In the near future, further Su-30 deliveries are expected to replace the remaining Su-22s and a portion of the MiG-21bis fleet. Latest rumour is that, after years of storage with the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant in Baranovichi (Belarus), 18 former IAF Su-30Ks rejected due to engine problems suffered in 2003 will be upgraded to Su-30KN standards and acquired by the VPAF. Eight Yak-130UBS trainers are expected to replace the L-39 in the 2015-2025 timeframe, although no order has been signed yet.

Wall of Fame

Above: VPAF pilots talking about the air combat. 
Bellow left: Nguyen văn coc (third from the left). Bellow right: nguyen văn bay (center of picture)
(VPAF Achives)
VPAF Vietnam War Aces
Nguyen Van Coc (9)
Mai Van Cuong (8)
Pham Than Ngan (8)
Nguyen Hong Ni (8)
Nguyen Van Bay (7)
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