South African Air Force Museum – Fascinating Exhibits
The idea of a War Museum was only put forward in July 1941, during the Second World War, as the preservation of aircraft was not seen as necessary prior to the war. In 1942 the South African War Museum was established, but still no attempt to preserve aircraft was made, and most were disposed of after the war. By the South African Air Force’s 50th birthday in 1970, there was no evidence in their participation in the Korean War, the Berlin Airlift or both World Wars. The South African War Museum was finding the storage of historical aircraft extremely difficult, leading to the disposal of the extremely rare Fury, Tutor and Wapiti. Later, due to outside storage and falling into disrepair, the JU52/3m and a JU 88, were also disposed of. Because of the persistence of Col. PJM McGregor and his tireless campaign for the preservation of historical aircraft, the establishment of the South African Air Force Museum was finally granted in 1973.
A small staff and Col McGregor started to furiously collect aviation relics such as uniforms, log books, air craft parts and photographs. Arrangements were also made to store the aircraft that had survived disposal. Unfortunately, many historical aircrafts were lost before the museum was established (located in Pretoria), and one of these losses was the Hawker Hurricane that was sold as scrap material in 1971.
Some of the exquisite aircraft presently on display at the South African Air Force Museum are the Buccaneer, Cheetah, Mirage, Impala and S55. The artifacts department includes a jumbo engine that powered the ME262, the desk of aviation pioneer Alistair Miller, a tunic worn by Heinz Migeod, who was a Stuka Pilot in the Battle of Britain, and various art works. Under vehicles and equipment, the South African Air Force Museum in Pretoria boasts a 40mm Bofor AA Gun, a Sperry Searchlight and a South African Armored Reconnaissance Car.
The South African Air Force Museum is a non-profit organization and relies on the public and various organizations for funds and donations. One of these organizations is the ‘Friends of the SAAF Museum’, who take part in the restoration of aircraft, assist in Air Shows and lend their assistance in all aspects relating to the South African Air Force Museum.