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    Gia Lam Airfield (Gialam)  Vietnam (French Indochina)

Location
Lat 21°02′27.51″N Long 105°53′09.64″E. Located at Gai Lam district on the eastern bank of the Red River near Hanoi (Ha Noi). Also known as Gialam or Gia Lam. Allied wartime spelling: "Gia Lam Airfield". In Vietnamese, known as Sân bay Gia Lâm.

Construction
During 1936, built by the French, known as "Aérogare de Gia Lam", according to an urban plan laid out by French architect Ernest Hébrard as the airport to service Hanoi.

Wartime History
After the Japanese occupation of French Indochina on September 26, 1940, used by Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) aircraft until late August 1945. During the Pacific War, targeted by American aircraft during late 1942 until late 1944.

Japanese units at Hanoi (Gia Lam)
1st Sentai (Ki-43) 1943

American missions against Gia Lam Airfield
September 25, 1942 - December 29, 1944

Postwar
During August 1945, during the "August Revolution", this airfield was surrendered to the Việt Minh. Guerrilla fighting began between Việt Minh fighters and the French, and on December 19, 1946, in response to attacks on French installations in and around Hanoi, French troops re-occupied Gia Lam Airfield. This incident is considered to be the beginning of the First Indochina War.

Gia Lam supported French operations against the Vietnamese until the Frech defeat at Dien Bien Phu when the airfield was surrendered to the Viet Minh. Afterwards, used by the Vietnamese People's Air Force (VPAF) as their primary airfield in the Hanoi area.

Vietnam War
American Joint Chiefs of Staff placed Gia Lam on a list of 94 recommended bombing targets in North Vietnam, identifying it as a major airbase and as a storage location for petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL). All North Vietnamese airfields were removed from the USAF's "restricted target" list in April 1967, and Gia Lam was one of six deemed suitable for fast jet operations. As a result, it sustained heavy damage as part of Operation Rolling Thunder during repeated attacks.

During January 1973, Gia Lam was the site of Operation Homecoming, a series of diplomatic negotiations that made possible the return of a number of American POWs held by the North Vietnamese. The first repatriation, effected by the United States Air Force's Military Airlift Command, happened on February 12, 1973, when C-141s of the 63d Military Airlift Wing, flying from Clark Air Base flew to Gia Lam and returned with a total of 116 former POWs. The first C-141 to return came to be known as the Hanoi Taxi, named after the writing on the flight engineer's panel by the POWs aboard the plane for the freedom flight. Arizona Senator John McCain was one of the POWs who departed from Gia Lam aboard the Hanoi Taxi. From February 12 - April 4, 1973, a total of 54 C-141 missions out of Gia Lam returning former POWs.

Today
Known as Hanoi Airport or Gai Lam Airport. Designated a small airport. Airport code: ICAO: VVGL. The single runway is oriented 02 and measures 6,565' and surfaced with asphalt. Today, used for military training activities, as well as for chartered helicopter taxi flights for tourists visiting nearby attractions such as Halong Bay. Scheduled to be opened for civilian traffic for regional flights during 2015.

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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