SEATTLE — On May 26, 2018, the Museum of Flight opens “Vietnam Divided: War Above Southeast Asia,” a permanent addition to the museum’s glass-walled main gallery that focuses on the air war over Southeast Asia from 1955-1975.
Using displays based upon the design of military airbase protective barriers, the exhibit is not meant to be a comprehensive history of the war, instead offering new perspectives to the gallery’s Vietnam War aircraft, and highlighting the tactics and technology behind their use in combat, according to museum officials.
Personal experiences of the war are shared with filmed stories told by aircrew members from all branches of the U.S. services.
The exhibit spreads in smaller ways throughout the museum’s campus in Seattle and the Restoration Center in Everett, Wash., linking all of the aircraft types — both military and civilian — that were used in the war above Southeast Asia.
Aircraft in the Exhibit
The Vietnam air combat exhibit centers on four aircraft in the T. A. Wilson Great Gallery — a stealthy Lockheed YO-3A, a Bell UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 jet fighters.
Flanking them are the Vought F-8 Crusader fighter and Lockheed M/D-21 Blackbird spyplane.
Also included in the exhibit are planes that can be found in other galleries, including the Grumman A-6 Intruder, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and the MiG-17.
“There are aircraft across our campus, including the Restoration Center, with stories that align with this exhibit,” explained museum exhibit developer Peder Nelson. “The military version of the DC-3 that’s hanging in the Great Gallery was the C-47, which was used for transport and turned into a gunship. The Super Constellation airliner was used in early warning communications at the time.”
In November, “Vietnam Divided” will extend to a new outdoor exhibit, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, opening west of the museum’s Aviation Pavilion. The centerpiece of the park will be the largest plane flown in the war, a Boeing B-52 bomber.