Located next door to the Johannesburg Zoo in Erlswold Way in northern Johannesburg, the Museum of Military History was originally opened in 1947 as the South African National War Museum to act as a reminder and to preserve the history of South Africa's involvement in the Second World War.
The museum's name was then changed in 1975 to South African National Museum of Military History and its contents were expanded to include all conflicts that South Africa had fought in or been involved in. In 1999 there was a restructuring of national museums and the museum was merged with Transvaal Museum of Natural History and the National Cultural History Museum and an institution was formed and is now know n as the Ditsong National Museum of Military History.
Today the museum's stated mission is to be a memorial for all those South Africa's who have died in or as a result of military actions during various wars. The museum also aims to preserve the country and the nation's military history for future generations, providing insight and a greater understanding into the concept of battle and the tactics and weaponry used.
The museum is open daily between 09h00 and 16h30 and there is a small admission fee charged at the entrance. Considered one of Joburg's most undervalued attractions, the Ditsong National Museum of Military History is home to a unique or 'special' art piece that the staff of the museum have nicknamed their 'Mona Lisa'.
This unique piece is an ME262; the first two-seater night fighter jet engine plane that was designed and manufactured towards the end of World War 2 by the Germans. This plane is incredibly special as it is the only existing plane of its kind in the world.
Aside from the magnificent fighter plane and other aircraft, the museum also houses weapons that were used in the Anglo-Boer War and the Anglo-Zulu War, through World War 1 and World War 2 and on the border of South West Africa, now known as Namibia.
Military lovers and those with an interest in past battles will be able to view an incredible array of weaponry and hardware including some of the first modern weapons such as Maxim machine guns, automatic handguns, armoured fighting vehicles, the howitzer and soldier's uniforms and medals. There are over 40 000 items on display in the museum.