Bloemfontein is the place to be this weekend for those with an affinity for armour with 1 SA Tank Regiment’s annual night shoot on Friday starting proceedings.
The night shoot will see the Olifant Mk 1A and Olifant Mk 2 main battle tanks in action on Range G of the General de Wet, also known as De Brug, training area outside the Free State provincial capital.
Sergeant Major Dennis Green said entrance is free and the route will be marked from the N1/N8 junction to the training areas.
Saturday the armour theme continues at the SA Armour Museum situated in the lines of the School of Armour at Tempe military base with an open day. Mobility demonstrations and a drive past of museum vehicles will be the backbone of the day’s events with a parachute drop and the South African designed and built Rooivalk combat support helicopter from nearby 16 Squadron also showing off its capabilities.
Apart from being open to all with an interest in armour, the museum has extended an invitation to Operation Savannah veterans to attend.
The Armour Museum goes back to 1994 when the idea of a museum and research centre was first raised. It was approved by Chief of the Army on October 12, 1995, with approval to use a historic building at the School of Armour coming soon afterward.
Any number of fundraising projects, along with donations from the private sector and arms manufacturers, saw displays built and items of interest donated. An appeal to past and serving Armour Corps members added further items for display before the museum was officially opened by then SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Reg Otto on September 13, 1996, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the SA Armoured Corps.
The museum is now the proud owner of a number of tracked and wheeled amour vehicles and ancillary displays as well as a Wall of Remembrance, the Garrison Hall and a research library.