An object a day #17: Tank 390

Sun 26 Apr 2020 Opinion

Every day for 30 days we will be featuring a museum object that has inspired or intrigued us, in the hope that “an object a day keeps the doctor away.” We love creating exciting, meaningful storytelling through engaging experiences, but still firmly believe that it is hard to beat the thrill of being in the presence of authentic artefacts. Today’s object is: Tank 390.

A replica of Tank 390 is on display at the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh

Displays of military hardware usually leave me cold. But seeing a tank (albeit a replica) that made history in the place where it happened is different.

An iconic photograph by French photographer Francoise Demulder shows the moment when Tank 390 crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon at 10.45 on 30 April 1975 to end the Vietnam War. Soon afterwards, soldiers climbed on top of the palace to plant a red and blue flag with the yellow star of the Revolutionary Forces of North Vietnam.

The Chinese-made T59 tank was captained by Vu Dang Toan who said of the moment, “If we had been scared, how could we have crashed through that gate? Our aim was to quickly occupy the palace and arrest Duong Van Minh’s cabinet.”

The original Tank 390 is now in the Tank and Armour Museum at Hoang Quoc Viet street, Hanoi.