ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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VIETNAM JOURNAL-The Modest Victors

VIETNAM JOURNAL The Modest Victors Harish Chandola AN aerial Dien Bien phu took place over Hanoi in the 12 days of December last, from 18 to 29. During this period the United States tried to implement its threat to bomb North Vietnam back- to the stone age. And lost. It lost 81 planes in those 12 days to anti-aircraft fire and to the skilful and determined fight put up by the small North Vietnamese Air Force. North Vietnam's fighter planes broke formations of US bombers and fighter-bombers and its anti-aircraft guns and missiles tracked and brought them down. Among the 81 planes shot down over Hanoi, there were 34 B-52s and five F-llls, the latter being the most sophisticated, advanced, versatile and expensive aircraft in the US arsenal. (The total number of US airplanes downed over North Vietnam from August 5, 1964 to January 17, 1973 is 4,181, including 6S B-52s and 13 F-llls shot down in the later part of 1972.) This was just like Dien Bien Phu in 1954. To continue bombing would have meant drastic damage for the US Strategic Air Force, about whose devastating destructive power much had been .said, In Hanoi's zoological park, next to the cage of mocking birds, is an enclosure displaying the debris of a B-52 bomber of the US Strategic Air Force, brought down over the park itself. These day more people visit the zoo to look at the fragments of this monster bird of death than at the animals, In that enclosure are its throe-storey high tail-fin, shreds of wings 50-fect long, with ailerons torn out of them, fuel tanks that could store water for a whole? small town and engines as big as generators capable of supplying power to a small town. A poster hung from a tree over these pieces of the murder weapon shows young militia women rejoicing with cherubs, and is captioned: "Victorious Hanoi''. Anywhere you go in Vietnam, the people you meet say: "B-52s are nothing to be afraid of and I'M lis cannot frighten us. We can shoot them ail down". You have only to visit the Various parts of the country, where fragments of B-52s and F-llls and Phantoms lie, to realise that this is not an idle boast.

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