Dien Bien Phu 1954

Dien Bien Phu 1954

The French Defeat that Lured America into Vietnam

Campaign 366
  • Author: Martin Windrow
  • Illustrator: Peter Dennis
  • Short code: CAM 366
  • Publication Date: 19 Aug 2021
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In late 1953, the seventh year of France's war against the Viet Minh insurgency in its colony of Vietnam, the C-in-C, General Navarre, was encouraged to plant an ‘air-ground base' in the Thai Highlands at Dien Bien Phu, to distract General Giap's Vietnamese People's Army from both Annam and the French northern heartland in the Red River Delta, and to protect the Laotian border. Elite French paratroopers captured Dien Bien Phu, which was reinforced between December 1953 and February 1954 with infantry and artillery, a squadron of tanks and one of fighter-bombers, to a strength of 10,000 men. Giap and the VPA General Staff accepted the challenge of a major positional battle; through a total mobilization of national resources, and with Chinese logistical help, they assembled a siege army of 58,000 regular troops, equipped for the first time with 105mm artillery and 37mm AA guns. Here, author Martin Windrow describes how from their first assaults on 13 March 1954, the battle quickly developed into a dramatic 56-day ‘Stalingrad in the jungle' that drew the attention of the world.

Biographical Note

Martin Windrow, the long-time series editor of Osprey's Men-at-Arms and Elite series, is an Associate member of the FLA GB, the French Foreign Legion British old comrades' amicale. His own Osprey books include Men-at-Arms 509, French Foreign Legion 1831-1871; Men-at-Arms 461, French Foreign Legion 1872-1914; Men-at-Arms 325, French Foreign Legion 1914-45; Men-at-Arms 300, French Foreign Legion Infantry and Cavalry since 1945 (covering 1945-96); Men-at-Arms 322, The French Indochina War 1946-54; Men-at-Arms 312, The Algerian War 1954-62; Elite 6, French Foreign Legion Paratroops (covering 1948-85); Warrior 157, French Foreign Legionnaire 1890-1914; and Combat 36, French Foreign Légionnaire vs Viet Minh Insurgent 1948-52. He is also the author, for Weidenfeld & Nicolson, of the critically acclaimed The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam (2004); and Our Friends Beneath the Sands: The Foreign Legion in France's Colonial Conquests 1870-1935 (2010).Peter Dennis was inspired by contemporary magazines such as Look and Learn, leading him to study Illustration at Liverpool Art College. Peter has since contributed to hundreds of books, predominantly on historical subjects, including many Osprey titles. A keen wargamer and modelmaker, he is based in Nottinghamshire, UK.


Origins of the Campaign
Opposing Commanders
Opposing Forces and Orders of Battle
Opposing Plans
The Battle
The Battlefield Today
Further Reading
Acronyms and Abbreviations

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