The newest permanent installation in the Museum’s T.A. Wilson Great Gallery focuses specifically on the air war above Southeast Asia that ran from 1955-1975. Using displays based upon the design of military airbase protective barriers, the exhibit lends a new perspective to the Gallery's Vietnam War aircraft and highlights the tactics and technology behind their use in combat.

Personal experiences of the War are shared with filmed stories told by aircrew members from all branches of the U.S. services. The exhibit reaches across the Museum’s campus in Seattle and Restoration Center in Everett, Wash., in smaller ways, by linking all the aircraft types—both military and civil—that were used in the war over Southeast Asia.

Aircraft in the Exhibit

The Vietnam air combat exhibit centers on four aircraft in the T. A. Wilson Great Gallery—the American Lockheed YO-3A, McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, Bell UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21. Flanking them are the Vought F-8 Crusader and Lockheed M/D-21 Blackbird spyplane. Also included in the exhibit are planes that can be found in other galleries—Grumman A-6 Intruder, and the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.

The exhibit adds context to aircraft throughout the Museum by acknowledging those not commonly considered as players in the Vietnam War, such as the DC-3 that’s hanging in the Great Gallery. The military version, the C-47, was used for transport and as a gunship. The Super Constellation airliner, located outside the main entrance, was used in early warning communications during the conflict.

In spring 2019, this exhibit’s Vietnam theme will be extended to a new outdoor exhibit, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, opening west of the Museum’s spacious Aviation Pavilion. The centerpiece of the Park will be the largest plane flown during the War, a Boeing B-52G bomber, joined by a statue of a returning aviator and the five military branch flags to honor all veterans who served during the Vietnam War.