The Vietnam Museum of Weapons

The Vietnam Museum of Weapons is located in Long Bien District, Hanoi in an area of 10,000m2. The exhibits are various, from primitive to modern weapons used by the Vietnamese people.

The Vietnamese people have been through thousands of years of fighting to build and defend the country. Major wars have been recorded in history, including the war against the northern invaders in feudal times, the war against the French colonialists, and the anti-US resistance war. All those have been closely related to the weapons that the Vietnamese manufactured and used.

The Vietnam Museum of Weapon has a three-storey building for showrooms, each floor covering 1,000m2. Here visitors can see hundreds of exhibits of more than 5,000 original items. They are displayed in groups with descriptions, each having historical value and are proof of the establishment and development of Vietnamese weapon technology.

The Vietnam Museum of Weapons. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Weapons of the Dong Son period. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Heads of spears and harpoons from the 1st to 10th centuries. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Cannons in the painting reproducing the Victory of Ngoc Hoi – Dong Da. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Wooden stakes used in the battle to fight against the Nam Han (Nanhan)
on the Bach Dang River. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP
Among the exhibits, there is a duplicate of Lien Chau magic crossbow used by King An Duong (257-208 B.C) which related to the legend about My Chau and Trong Thuy. Others include bows and arrows, steel weapons, wooden stakes filled with stones, stone throwers and cannons. They are shown together with transport means such as elephants, horses and boats, which were used by the Vietnamese people in their fights against the northern invaders with glorious victories.

The modern weapons were made by the Vietnamese army during the two wars against the French colonialists (1945-1954) and the US imperialists (1954-1975).

Through the valuable exhibits, visitors can learn more about the development of Vietnam’s weapon making industry. For example, in the time of the Hung kings, the Viet people used crossbows and copper arrows. In the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400), the army was equipped with bows and arrows, shields, stone throwers and flammable fireworks. The armies of the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225) and the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400) paid special attention to developing the army through training and equipping them with weapons. In 1405, the Ho Dynasty successfully cast copper and iron cannons. In the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), the skilled workers’ guild and foreman’s service were established. Weapon making workshops were located in the imperial city of Hue and other localities. For the infantry, the Nguyen Dynasty manufactured copper muskets, flame-throwers, and iron cannons. The insurrectionists recruited molders and blacksmiths, and established weapon making workshops to make hundreds of rifles which were the same as those they had seized from the French troops.

It can be said that the Vietnam Museum of Weapons is an epic with objects. Looking at the full collection of the exhibits, visitors can learn about the Vietnamese people’s history of fighting for the nation through the years. The scimitars and falchions marked the fight of the worker and farmer soldiers in the years before the August Revolution in 1945. The cartridges, muskets and pistols were used by the first 34 members of the Vietnam Propaganda Liberation League founded on December 22, 1944, the forerunner of the present-day Vietnam People’s Army. The landmines, tripod bombs and self-made bazookas were used by the soldiers and guerrillas in the first days of the resistance war against the French colonialists in 1946.

The statue of a soldier holding a tripod bomb to protect the capital. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Reproducing the images of soldiers preparing weapons in the tunnel. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

The room for displaying weapons which the Vietnamese soldiers and people
used to fight against the US. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Rockets. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Fuses. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP.

Submachine guns which the Vietnamese soldiers and people use in the wars
to fight against the enemies to protect the nation. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP

Pupils learn about the history of the struggles against the enemies
for national protection. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang/VNP
During the anti-US resistance war, Vietnam’s military manufactured the anti-tank gun CT62, 60mm- and 160mm-mortars, and other weapons such as minesand hand-grenades to fight the enemy. The famous military scientist Tran Dai Nghia, together with engineers and technicians, successfully turned out the A12 light and portable guns with which the soldiers could use in attacking the enemy’s bases, ports and airports within the 10km. The crude smoothbore made in 1960, and the booby trap made in 1967, by the southern guerrillas helped in strengthening the army’s fighting power.

Apart from displaying domestically-made weapons, the museum also showcased those from the former Soviet Union to support the Vietnamese army, such as the AK47 rifle, the RP6-7 anti-tank gun, the T54 tank, the multi-functional helicopters MI-8, MI-24 and AN-2, the MG-21 interceptor, the BM21 automatic reactive cannon system with a launching pad for forty 122mm-barrels, and the SAM-2 anti-aircraft missile.

Although open for public visit only recently, the museum is expected to be an attractive destination for visitors who want to learn more about the weapons used by the Vietnamese. 

Story: Vinh Hung – Photos: Tran Thanh Giang