Before leaving Vietnam, we had one final day in Hanoi and decided to spend it B52 hunting. Vietnam is so proud of the David and Goliath-esque victories in the downing of these monstrous bombers, and everywhere you go you’re reminded of this.
Quite by accident we came across and old man hand painting replica communist propaganda posters. His work was really good and we found it so hard to choose just one. In the end we settled on a picture of a red fist crushing a B52. It seemed fitting with the theme of the day.
A little off the beaten track is the relatively new B52 Victory Museum that, among other things, hosts a huge pile of scrap from fallen US planes. It’s a well kept secret and there was only a single young Vietnamese family there during our visit.
We had heard that in a nearby neighbourhood there were still the remnants of a B52 that was shot down over a small lake. This one wasn’t easy to find but the journey was it’s own reward. We wound our way through back streets observing local life. The old French architecture was stunning, with locals crowded under archways selling jackfruit or carving up dogs. I imagine that any foreigners passing this way can only be looking for one thing and as we passed locals pointed us in the right direction.
And then there it was. Not as much of it was left as I was hoping, but it was still really cool to see. In the middle of a neighbourhood square, surrounded by residential houses and a primary school, was the wreckage. Children hurried past ignoring the silly foreigners who had come to gawk at this thing that they saw every day. I gazed around and had to wonder what damage the plane had done as it had come down. Presumably all of these houses had been rebuilt, but it wasn’t immediately obvious. There is such immense pride in having brought the bombers down, but I wonder how many died as they fell.
War really is hell.