The Wrecked Bomber of Huu Tiep Lake

Oct 5, 2016 8 comments

On the night of December 27, 1972, a US bomber B-52 was knocked out of the sky during a bombing raid on Hanoi, Vietnam. A part of the wreckage came crashing down into a small lake in a crowded residential neighborhood, where it still lies today as a sort of war trophy of Vietnam’s victory over the dreaded B-52s. The twisted metal of the destroyed bomber rests half submerged on the algae-green waters. Next to the lake is an inscription applauding the “outstanding feat of arm” that brought down the bomber of the “US imperialist.”

Originally built to carry nuclear bombs during the Cold War period, the B-52 Stratofortress has been the backbone of the US strategic bomber force since the 1950s. A veteran of the US Air Force, the B-52s have taken part in countless wars and have dropped millions of tons of ordnance all across the world.


Photo credit: Simon Morris/Flickr

The B-52, that resides in Huu Tiep Lake (now nicknamed B-52 Lake), was part of the “Christmas Bombing” campaigns, officially known as Operation Linebacker II, designed to destroy major military installations in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas. The massive air offensive against North Vietnam was ordered by president Nixon, as a retaliatory action, after talks between the North Vietnamese and Americans fell apart.

For eleven days, beginning December 18, 1972, over seven hundred American B-52 sorties flew over Hanoi and Haiphong dropping roughly 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over densely populated areas, killing over 1,600 civilians.

The North Vietnamese had with them sophisticated Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles or SAMs, plenty of anti-aircraft artillery, and a number of Soviet MiG-21 fighter jets. Over a thousand of SAMs were fired at enemy aircraft successfully bringing down fifteen American bombers. A total of 31 B-52s were lost during the war. The high number of casualties has been attributed to some poor and predictable bombing tactics set up by Air Force commanders.

Although the cost of bringing down these bombers was quite high and left the North Vietnamese forces depleted in missile stocks, Hanoi’s populace takes pride in the fact that so many of these large aircrafts never returned home.

Nevertheless, Operation Linebacker II was deemed a success, because it forced the North Vietnamese to return to the negotiating table. A few weeks later, the Paris Peace Treaty was signed and the Vietnam War came to a close.


Photo credit: fredsharples/Flickr


Photo credit: fredsharples/Flickr


Photo credit: fredsharples/Flickr


Photo credit: fredsharples/Flickr


Photo credit: Simon Morris/Flickr

Sources: Where the Wars Were / / Air Space Mag /


  1. Does anyone know which particular B-52 this was, and what happened to her crew?

    1. They were probably tortured to death by the NVs.

  2. Another useless war started by democrats

  3. Sorry, they were not tortured to death...

    Of the six crew, 2 were kiled, 4 taken PoW:
    Pilot/Commander:Capt Hal K Wilson USAF PoW.
    Co-pilot:Capt Charles Arthur Brown USAF PoW.
    Nav:Capt Richard Waller Cooper USAF killed.
    Rad/Nav:Maj Fernando Alexander USAF PoW.
    EWO:Captain Henry Charles Barrows USAF PoW.
    AG:TSgt Charlie Sherman Poole USAF killed.

    The four crew taken PoW were released in March of 1973.

    1. There is some discrepancy here. That crew belonged to a B52 that crashed on 18 Dec 1972. This plane, according to the plaque, crashed on 27 Dec 1972. Either the date on the plaque is incorrect, or this is a different plane whose identity is a mystery.

    2. The official record only shows 1 B52 lost on the 27th of December 1972. That would have been "Ash 2", 56‑0599. That aircraft was lost over Thailand after being hit by a SAM-2 over Hanoi. All crew successfully ejected, bailed out and all survived. I do remember watching something with Captain Wilson telling the story about this happening and showing the wreckage seen above. It was something I saw while serving in the Air Force and was an Air Force production, so you hope they got it right lol. I believe the callsign of this aircraft was "Rose 1" 56-0608. From the records TSgt Poole and Capt Cooper were never found and were considered KIA, Not Recovered.

  4. Really enjoyed your article, very informative.. We feature the subject in our editor’s pick column @ The Travellers Post- you can read the post here;

  5. I personally met "Red" aka Capt Hal K Wilson this last weekend (November 1st 2020) near his home in New Mexico. I can confirm that this story is true, although exact the date may be in question.


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