South African National Museum of Military History
The Museum, opened on 29 August 1947, provides a home for the memory and study of military history. It does so by affording visitors a rare opportunity to view the actual artefacts of an often-turbulent past. Many of the displays can be viewed in the two Bellman aircraft hangars, the original buildings on site. Over the years, other buildings have been added.
The Museum houses some of the rarest military equipment in the world. The German Me 262 two-seater night fighter of the Second World War is a notable example. The aircraft was designed to cater to the urgent need for an aircraft capable of combating the Mosquito of the Royal Air Force and was deployed in the defence of Berlin in early 1945.
Another interesting aircraft on display is the SE5a. This First World War fighter, the first to be powered by a purposely-designed aircraft engine, was one of the great combat aircraft of its time. Twenty-two were presented to South Africa in 1920 as part of the Imperial Gift by the United Kingdom to assist in the formation of the South African Air Force. The Museum’s example is the last remaining SE5a of the 1920 Gift.
The Museum’s Molch One-Man Submarine is one of several types of midget submarines built by Germany during the Second World War. These were intended for attacking Allied supply shipping off the European coast. The example on display was the first item to be acquisitioned at the Museum.
These are just some of the examples of the aircraft, armour, artillery, medical, naval and engineering equipment, small arms, medals, badges and uniforms, spanning the history of military conflict involving South Africans that are on exhibition throughout the Museum.