Hanoi has an unusual relic from the Vietnam War – the remains of a B-52 bomber right in the middle of the city. Join me as I go in search of this remnant of the war.
My new found friend in Hanoi, Nhung, looks at me skeptically.“Are you sure this bomber exists? How come I haven’t seen it?”, she says as I tell her about this article I read online about the remnants of an B-52 bomber right in the city of Hanoi. Remembering that the article is a few years old, I have my doubts but I convince Nhung to join me in the hunt for this bomber.
During the war the US ran a heavy bombing campaign, codenamed “Operation Linebacker II”, that ran during the winter of 1972. Targeting Hanoi and Haiphong areas, the campaign utilized B-52 bombers to carry out what the US termed as a “maximum effort” bombing campaign against the North. During one such bombing run, around Christmas, the Vietnamese managed to shoot down one the B-52 bombers that ended up crashing into Hanoi into what is now called Hun Tiep lake.
We first visit the Ho Chi Minh museum which was fairly close to where the B-52 bomber was supposed to be. After the museum, we start for the area where the bomber was supposed to be. The area is a quaint little residential area with apartment buildings and houses and narrow streets all around.
Walking through the narrow streets, I begun to wonder if this is a wild goose chase. We come up to a small pond. Is this the Hun Tiep lake? The bomber is nowhere to be found.
Nhung suggests that we move ahead and try our luck. Up ahead is another pond. I am optimistic that we might actually find this relic of the war. And lo behold !! I can see some pieces of wreckage in the pond as I just come up to the lake.
The pond or Hun Tiep Lake, is not much to look at. The lake surface has unhealthy greenish tinge to it but the water seems clear. It amazes me how such an piece of history continues to rot in this nondescript pond in this corner of the city. It’s been here for over 40 years, and is now almost as much a part of the fabric of the neighborhood like the ancient temple we pass on the way in.
The next few minutes are spent in photographing this rather surreal scene. In my mind I am thankful for the opportunity to see this unique facet of history and I am also thankful to my friend Nhung, who agreed to be dragged into hunting for this on a hot sunday afternoon.
As we walk away, I wonder what this relic of the past must mean to the Vietnamese people. Maybe it symbolizes courage against the face of adversity or maybe over the years it will be just a relic in the pond. Time will tell.
Hun Tiep Lake is clearly marked on Google Maps, and you should be able to easily get to the place following instructions on Google Maps. The lake is located along Hoang Hoa Tham Road., and is a short walk down Lane 55 heading south in Ba Dinh District
What to do
In addition to seeing the B-52 bomber, you can also visit the rather serene Đình Ngọc Hà temple which is close by.