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Your guide to the Museum’s permanent exhibits


On display are a variety of guns, armoured fighting vehicles, aircraft and naval hardware.  Two Bellman aircraft hangars house a variety of thematic displays such as the Anglo-Zulu War (1879), the Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1902), the First World War (1914 – 1918), the Second World War (1939 – 1945), resistance movements eg, Umkhonto-we-Sizwe (1961 – 1994), medicine in war, the development of combat uniforms and equipment and the development of small arms, to name a few.

Examples of armoured fighting vehicles on display include the following:

  • Crossley Armoured Car
  • SA Reconnaissance Cars Mks I, III, IV and VI
  • Carro Leggio 3/ 35 Italian Light Tank
  • Churchill Mk VI Tank, Royal Engineers
  • Sherman M4 ‘Firefly’ Main BattleTank
  • T-34/ 85 Main Battle Tank
  • T-55 Main Battle Tank

Examples of guns on display include the following:

  • G5 and G6 155mm Gun/ Howitzer systems

Examples of aircraft on display include the following:

  • Scout Experimental 5a
  • Supermarine Spitfire
  • De Havilland DH 98 Mosquito
  • Messerschmitt Me 262 (Two-seater night fighter version)
  • Dassault  Mirage III
  • Blackburn Buccaneer S Mk 50
  • Douglas C-47 ‘Dakota’
  • Alouette helicopter (new)

An example of naval hardware on display is:

  • Molch one man submarine


Approximately 350 orders, decorations and medals are displayed, many in groups awarded to famous South Africans such as Field Marshal J C Smuts PC, CM, OM, DTD, KC, Lt Gen G E Brink CB, CBE, DSO, Brig J T Durrant CB, CBE.

 Displays include a selection of the following:

  • Gallantry Decorations - eg the Victoria Cross or Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Orders - eg the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George or the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem
  • Foreign Awards - eg the Croix de Guerre (France)
  • Medals for gallantry in action – eg the Distinguished Conduct Medal or the Military Medal
  • Campaign Medals - eg the 1914 – 1915 Star (First World War) or the 1939 – 1945 Star, Africa Star and Italy Star (Second World War)
  • Commemorative Medals – eg the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
  • Medals for Long Service and Good Conduct – eg the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal (1894 – 1908)

A selection of medals awarded for service in Umkhonto-we-Sizwe (MK) and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) prior to 1994 is also on display.


There is a display on the development of small arms dating from the 17th Century.  The display includes:

  • Flintlock muskets from the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries
  • Percussion lock muskets and rifles
  • Rifles from the 19th and early 20th Centuries
  • Automatic rifles including the first models of the R1 and R4 assault rifles.
  • Anti tank rifles
  • Machine guns
  • Pistols


There is a display depicting the development of medicine from the traditional methods used by the Zulu Army during the Anglo-Zulu War (1879) to the modern sophisticated services provided by the South African Military Health Services.


This display looks at the history of Umkhonto-we-Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress, from its establishment in 1961 until integration into the South African National Defence Force in 1994.    Key exhibits are a selection of weapons and the uniform worn by Joe Modise, the former Commander-in-Chief of MK who became Minister of Defence from 1994 to 1999.

THE ANGLO BOER WAR (1899 – 1902)

See our display constructed for the centenary celebrations of the Anglo Boer War (1899 – 1902).  There are panels showing the causes, chronology, strategies, logistics and results of the war.  More extensive panels look at an overview of the war.  These begin with the operations in Natal and the northern and central Cape and the advance of Lord Roberts to Pretoria.  The panels then continue with the operations in the Eastern Transvaal in 1900, guerilla warfare, operations in the Brandwater Basin, and international support for both the Boers and the British. Conditions in the concentration camps and events leading to the peace of May 1902 are outlined.  Included in the display is a large selection of photographs and exhibits featuring small arms, edged weapons, badges, uniforms, medals and prisoner-of-war handcrafts, etc.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR (1914 – 1918)

Learn about the causes of this Great War, the different areas of campaigns, the South African units which took part, and the results of the war.  An imaginative, life size reconstruction of a section of a typical trench and a description of life in the trenches is included.