Long Bien Bridge


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Information Long Bien Bridge

103 years before today, the 1,682-meter Long Bien steel Bridge in Hanoi has been opened to traffic on February 28, 1902, crossing the Red River. The bridge is not just an essential link between communities on each side of the river, it is also a historical, nostalgic vestige of modern Vietnam. The bridge was originally named after the man who had conceived the idea of developing a transportation system in Vietnam to step up its colonization: Paul Doumer, governor general of French Indochina. Doumer chose Dayde&Pille Cie as the contractor for the project. This is the company for whom Eiffel, who designed and built the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty in New York, worked for. It took 3 years and 9 months for the structure to be completed.




On February 28, 1902, a train departed from Hanoi's Hang Co Railway Station, carrying a delegation comprising King Thanh Thai, Governor General Paul Doumer and many high-ranking officials from the Court of Hue (Kingdom of Annam) and the French Colonial administration to the bridge for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. When Vietnam became independent in 1945, the bridge was renamed Long Bien.

In March 1965, the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara a list of 94 targets in North Vietnam that should be hit in a 12-week campaign that stood a good chance of taking North Vietnam out of the war. The highest priority target, once North Vietnam's line of communications south of the 20th parallel had been severed, was the Long Bien Bridge.

Why was that bridge, 8,500 ft long including its terminal viaducts, so important? Four of five major rail lines came together to cross the bridge from the north into Hanoi. All supplies moving by rail from China and the port of Hai Phong had to cross this bridge, as did much truck traffic. This valuable North Vietnamese asset was defended by 300 anti-aircraft positions with 37-mm, 57-mm, 85-mm, and 100-mm guns; 85 SAM sites each with 4 to 6 missiles; and MiG fighters on several bases in and near Hanoi. The bridge was more than a mile long and contained 19 spans. Of great strategic importance, it carried the only rail link between Hanoi and the main port of Hai Phong.

On the morning of 08-11-1967, the Long Bien Bridge was released for attack that afternoon. Thirty-six F-105 Thunderchiefs each delivered two 3,000-pound bombs in a shallow-dive attack and dropped three of the spans. All of the planes returned safely. It was vital to go back while the weather was good and ensure that the bridge would be out of use for weeks or months. This time the enemy defenders would be fully alerted, knowing the bridge was no longer off limits. The bridge was hit again, and all of the strike force made it home safely. Some 300,000 tons of war supplies would not reach Hanoi over that bridge while it was down. Soon, however, the spans were repaired and, in early October, traffic resumed. In order to halt the bombs, Hanoi used American prisoners to the renovation of the bridge.

On 10- 21-1967, an attack by twenty-one F-105s put the bridge out of action again, but within a month it had been returned to normal operations. In the mid-December 1967 it has been downed again by 355th Tactical Fighter Wing based in Takhli, Thailand. Two heavy attacks involving a total of fifty F-105 sorties dropped five consecutive spans. The bridge remained out of use until the bombing pause of March 1968. By May, repairs were complete, and the bridge was in use once more.

For the next 4 years, the bridge was left alone, but when attacks on Hanoi resumed on 5-10-1972, it was targeted. 16 F-4 Phantoms of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing delivered shallow-dive attacks using new, first-generation "smart" bombs. The 4 planes in the lead flight each carried two 2,000-pound Electro-Optical Guided Bombs (EOGBs), and each of the rest carried two 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs (LGBs). During the initial attack all 8 weapons missed the target, some by wide margins. The LGBs did much better, scoring several direct hits that displaced one span without dropping it but rendered the bridge impassable to wheeled traffic. The following day, a flight of four F-4s, concentrating their LGBs on the damaged section, dropped the span into the river.

The Long Bien Bridge remained out of use until after the cessation of air attacks on North Vietnam in January 1973. Then repair work progressed rapidly, and the bridge was reopened for traffic March 4, 1973.

Source: .trekearth.com
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