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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Friday 15 April 2022

Istanbul Military Museum

Of the many excellent historical museums in Istanbul, the Military Museum (Askerî Müze) is the must-see trip for the military history buff. It is based in the old First Army HQ in the Harbiye district of the city, just north of Taksim Square. It's hard to miss with this massive Ottoman-era coastal gun outside.

This is what I would describe as a content-rich museum. There are few of the interactive elements much beloved by modern museums, although a refurbishment is planned. Instead, you get some 10,000 exhibits displayed chronologically. I visit many museums, and this is unquestionably one of the world's finest military museums, not least because of its knowledgeable and helpful staff. 

There is a special exhibition near the entrance on the centenary of the Turkish War of Independence. This includes a fine diorama of the Battle of Cal Mountain, created by local wargamers, including Onur Buyuran, who painted the 20mm figures.   

I took nearly a hundred photos, which is a bit excessive for a blog post. So, here are a few examples, and I'll put up more on the website. There are paintings and dioramas as well as weapons and armour.

This massive diorama is in the 1453 room, along with the chain that defended the Golden Horn.

One of several Ottoman armour displays

Wargamers and modellers should note the curves on these bows.

Plenty of original uniform displays

There are enough firearms to equip an army!

I have been Tweeting some of the more exotic weapons, most of which I have never seen before.

A petrol driven machine gun!

An early 19thC heavy machine gun.

Gallipoli has its own room, with this diorama and a New Zealand flag.

Every Chief of the General Staff has a section in one of several rooms. This is Semih Sancar, who was Chief of the Turkish General Staff during the 1974 Cyprus operation. I have posted more of the Cyprus exhibits in yesterday's post.

Outside there is a massive collection of artillery, which is not open to the public at present due to the planned refurbishment. Some I recognise; others will need a bit of detective work. 

A 19thC cannon that appears to have some sort of magazine.

A personal favourite is this heavy artillery piece. Skoda, I think.

The collection includes many captured guns like this 1916 Russian field gun.

Most were supplied from overseas in the modern era, including this WW2 British 6-pdr ATG.

Lots of earlier Ottoman guns.

I'll finish with the only tank, a Russian T26, the mainstay of the Turkish armoured units at the outbreak of WW2.

There is a small shop with some good value if a bit challenging for your suitcase, publications.


  1. Yet more lovely, lovely photos. Thanks for sharing.
    The muskets are particularly interesting.

  2. They have some astonishing weapons. I spent far too much time looking for markings etc to work out what they are. I will be posting in forums for some help!

  3. Fantastic- I much prefer this style of museum- full of stuff- than the more modern ones....



    1. I get the need to attract the attention of a younger generation. But I prefer content. I guess that makes me old!