PANO – The victory in the Central Highlands, and especially the victory of Tri Thien - Hue Campaign, isolated the enemy’s military bases in Da Nang and all the remaining force of the enemy’s Army Corps 1 and Military Tactical Zone 1 in Quang Da region, and blocked the roads to Saigon.
After losing Tri Thien, Quang Ngai and most of Quang Nam provinces, the entire remaining forces of the Saigon government’s Army Corps 1 and Military Tactical Zone 1 fled to Quang Da. The enemy deemed that "The communists intend to attack Da Nang and it takes at least a month to prepare for the operation." Based on that anticipation, the Saigon force decided to "keep Da Nang at any cost".
Under the direction of the Politburo, the Central Military Commission and the General Command, Tri Thien Military Region, Army Corps 2, and Military Zone 5 launched Da Nang Offensive Campaign (March 26th to March 29th, 1975) aiming to destroy the whole enemy’s force in the Quang Da region, leaving no time them to consolidate force and work out new strategies. This is part of the Spring 1975 General Offensive and Uprising.

The enemy’s force then consisted of around 75,000 troops, including the Army Corps 1 Command, Military Tactical Zone 1, Marine Division 1 (including the remnant troops of Brigade 147), Infantry Division 3, the remnants of infantry Divisions 1 and 2, Air Division 1 (consisting of 279 aircraft, including 96 fighters), Special Task Force Combat Unit 17, Armored Combat Unit 11, remnants of Armored Combat Unit 20, 7 artillery battalions, 15 security battalions, 240 civil defence platoons, and 24,000 civil defence militants.

Our force joining the campaign comprised Army Corps 2 (without Division 324) and Military Zone 5 (consisting of Infantry Division 2, Infantry Brigade 52, 2 armored battalions, one artillery battalion, 2 regiments and 3 battalions of the local armed forces, guerrilla and self-defense force, special task force, etc.). The Command of the campaign included Commander Le Trong Tan and Commissar Chu Huy Man.

Army Corps 2 approaching Da Nang on March 29th 1975. Photo: Archived photo.


On March 26th, the campaign was officially launched. By March 28th, our force broke the entire peripheral defense system of the enemy and deployed force to form the siege around Da Nang from different directions. In face of a defeat, from March 26th, the US conducted the evacuation airlift for US consulate in Da Nang to Saigon, worsening the situation and wearing out the morale of the enemy troops. Taking the opportunity (attacking the enemy in retreat), on the early morning of March 29th, Vietnamese force gathered 30 heavy artillery guns of Army Corps 2 and Military Zone 5 to shell the areas of Hon Bang, Tra Kieu, Vinh Dien, Da Nang airport, Son Tra port, Nuoc Man airport, promptly supporting infantry and armored forces to conduct attacks from different directions. The north direction along Road 1 attacked Da Nang via Hai Van pass, capturing Lien Chieu petrol depot, penetrating deeply into the city to Son Tra Peninsula, taking control of the military port (at 13:30, March 29th). The northwest direction along Road 14 attacked in advance to capture Phuoc Tuong, Khanh Hoa and the Headquarters of Division 3 of the enemy, then coordinated with other forces to take over the radio station and the town hall (at 9:30, March 29th) and deploy force to Son Tra Peninsula. The southwest direction smashed the enemy in Phu Huong, Dong Lam, pursued the enemy to Ai Nghia, took control of Hoa Cam training center, and coordinated with forces to capture Da Nang airport. The south direction took over the areas of Ba Ren, Duy Xuyen, Nam Phuoc, Vinh Dien and advanced to Da Nang to capture the Headquarters of Army Corps 1, Air Division 1 and Da Nang airport (at 12:00, March 29th). The direction from the southeast took control of Hoi An town, Non Nuoc area, the naval base, and coordinated to capture Nuoc Man airport, etc. By 15:00 of March 29th, the campaign finished, completely liberating Da Nang and its neighborhood.

After more than three days of campaign, Vietnamese force defeated, captured and disintegrated the entire enemy force (Military Tactical Zone 1 and Army Corps 1), wiping out 90,000 enemy troops, capturing, and destroying 115 aircraft, 47 boats, 138 tanks and armored vehicles, more than 69,000 guns of all types (including 109 105mm to 175mm artillery guns) and many other military technical equipment.

The victory of Da Nang Campaign was strategically important, changing the power balance on the battlefield, smashing the strategic intention of the enemy, creating favorable conditions for us to focus forces on dealing the final strategic blows to the enemy, completely liberating the South.

The victory of the campaign and the offensives in the Central Highlands, the Nam-Ngai campaign and Tri-Thien campaign comparably changed the strategic balance of power in favour of our force. Da Nang offensive campaign caused great loss of technical equipment and weapons to the enemy, largely disintegrating the organization, the tactics, strategy, and most importantly the morale of the enemy, pushing the Saigon government to the verge of the inevitable complete collapse, opening new opportunities for us to liberate Saigon-Gia Dinh and the whole South of Vietnam. Losing Da Nang, the Saigon government lost the last stronghold and the landing area that President Nguyen Van Thieu often dreamt of for the US fleet to send reinforcement forces. The campaign really pushed the Saigon troops to the desperate situation, enabling us to accelerate the general offensive. Right on the night of March 29th, when Da Nang was just liberated, Western news agencies already commented, "Since the fall of Da Nang, the collapse of the Saigon regime is only a matter of days and hours" (*).

The victory of the campaign helped open an important strategic area. Together with the victory of the Central Highlands, Tri-Thien and Nam-Ngai campaigns, a vast region of five provinces in the coastal plain bordering the socialist North was liberated, connecting with the Central Highlands, creating the more continuous and complete liberated area. It was then better for our force in logistics and technical assurance and maneuvering a large number of force for the Liberation of Saigon - Gia Dinh in a short time. After the Hue - Da Nang offensive, it was easier and more convenient for us to concentrate force for the final battle and liberate the Spratly Islands (Truong Sa islands), part of the sacred territory of Vietnam, significant in the construction and defense of the nation. The attack direction from the east was then formed mainly from the force of Army Corps 2, operating along Road 1 to gather with other forces to liberate Saigon, creating overwhelming power from all directions to ensure victory for the Ho Chi Minh campaign.

Together with other victories in the Central Highlands, Tri-Thien and Nam-Ngai campaigns, Da Nang Offensive Campaign made comparable change to the power balance in favor of our force. From this success, we won stronger position and more power to liberate Saigon-Gia Dinh and the entire South of Vietnam, reunifying the whole nation.

Written by Nguyen Trong Thanh (Vietnam Institute of Military History)

Translated by Huu Duong

(*) Quang Nam - Da Nang: 30 years of combat and victory, 1945-1975. Vol 2, Da Nang Publishing House, p. 298.