The bunker from where a game-changing battle helped end the Vietnam War

By Giang Huy-Hoang Phuong   December 18, 2017 | 01:58 am PT
Discover how Vietnam sealed an historic victory from this bunker during the Christmas bombings of 1972.

A bunker in Hanoi where Vietnamese officers made critical decisions for the "Dien Bien Phu in the Air Campaign", that lasted from December 18-29 in 1972, has been opened to public to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Vietnam's victory. The campaign, named Linebacker II by the U.S., was an aerial bombing campaign the U.S. conducted against targets in the north of Vietnam during the final period of the Vietnam War (1955-1975). The operation was “an intense bombing campaign by the U.S. to destroy major targets in Hanoi and nearby cities and provinces using B-52 aircraft. It was the largest bombardment launched by the U.S. Air Force since the end of World War II, according to military experts.


Built under the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in late 1964 when U.S. troops were spreading further into northern Vietnam, this T1 bunker was the heart and soul of North Vietnam during the war. Critical military decisions were made in the 64-square-meter (689-square-foot) bunker, which was equipped with a steam-powered air conditioning unit, ventilation and electromagnetic interference systems. The door was steel plated to protect from bombs, radioactive rays and poison gas.


Staff in this room in the T1 bunker were the first to receive orders on the campaign and report to higher authorities.


The operations room was run by the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army. The staff here had to work around the clock to keep track of the entire campaign and advise the General Staff and the Minister of Defense. Air raid sirens across Hanoi were also controlled from this room.


This room had 20 landline telephones to contact major departments and agencies during the war.


Maps line the wall of the room.


A blackboard with a hand-written schedule on it.


The siren button in the operations room. When the button was pressed, 15 sirens across Hanoi howled at the same time to alert citizens of air raids.


Major General Nguyen Van Ninh, who was there during the campaign in 1972, recalled the tension inside the T1 bunker. At that time, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, or North Vietnam, had to accept the terms and conditions set in the Paris Peace Accord, a peace treaty signed on January 27, 1973 to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War.


A map to track U.S. aircraft based on top secret information provided by intelligence agents inside the operations room.


The generator room where the ventilation and phone systems were operated to ensure the entire bunker could work smoothly. If you’re interested in learning more about this historic campaign, pay a visit to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long at 9 Hoang Dieu Street, Ba Dinh District.

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