Puneet Varma (Editor)

South African Army Armoured Formation

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1946 - present (SAAC)

South African Army

South Africa


South African Army Armoured Formation

Provides the Army with “battle winning shock action and firepower.” “To provide combat-ready armour forces to CSANDF.”

Pectore Sicut Ferro (With a chest of steel)

The South African Army Armour Formation provides an Armour capability to the South African Army. The Formation came into being as part of a restructure. South African Armoured Corps units previously under the command of various different brigades and other formations were all grouped under one formation. All armour is assigned to the SA Army Armour Formation under the charge of a General Officer Commanding.


Armoured Origins

South Africa employed armoured cars as early as 1915 during its invasion of the then-German South West Africa (now Namibia).

After the end of the First World War a single Medium Mark A Whippet light tank was purchased for the Union Defence Force and was operationally employed during the 1922 Rand revolt. The tank in question is now on display at the Army College at Thaba Tshwane.

The formation of an armoured corps was proposed in 1924. An armoured car section was formed the next year when two Vickers machine gun-armed Crossley armoured cars and two medium tanks were imported from Britain.

During the severe economic depression of 1933, the government established the Special Service Battalion (SSB) on 1 May 1933 as a job opportunities and social upliftment project. The Springbok was first used as symbol for this unit until it was changed to the national flower - the Protea - in July 1934, which is still used today.

World War Two

The SSB was converted to an Armoured Car Regiment at the start of the Second World War, and later to a Tank Regiment. In April 1943 the SSB was deployed in North Africa and used a black beret sporting silver proteas as badge and a flash with orange, white and blue as its colours.

Armoured Corps

When the SA Armoured Corps was officially proclaimed in 1946 and the SSB included in the corps as the only full-time unit, its symbols and colours were incorporated

Armoured Formation

On 24 January 2014 the General Officer Commanding (GOC) SA Army Armour Formation, Brigadier General Chris Gildenhuys SM MMM handed over command to Brigadier General Andre Retief SM & Bar MMM at a parade at the Tempe Military Base in Bloemfontein.

The South African Army Armour Formation marked its 70th anniversary in October 2016 in Bloemfontein with the fourth Armour Symposium and a thanksgiving service.


The Formation is structured as follows:


  • School of Armour, (Bloemfontein)
  • Tank units

    These units are equipped with the Olifant Mk1B or Olifant Mk2 main battle tank.

    Regular Force

  • 1 South African Tank Regiment (Bloemfontein)
  • Reserve Force

  • Pretoria Regiment (Pretoria)
  • Natal Mounted Rifles (Durban)
  • Regiment President Steyn (Bloemfontein)
  • Armoured Car Units

    These units are equipped with the Rooikat armoured fighting vehicle.

    Regular Force

  • 1 Special Service Battalion (Bloemfontein)
  • Reserve Force

  • Umvoti Mounted Rifles (Pinetown)
  • Regiment Oranjerivier (Cape Town)
  • Light Horse Regiment (Sandton)
  • Regiment Mooirivier (Potchefstroom)
  • References

    South African Army Armoured Formation Wikipedia