Pearl River Delta Map

Would you like to see this in-game?
  • Yes
  • No
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Which version of the map?
  • 1987
  • 1997
  • Neither, I don’t want the map
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Pearl River Delta

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The rough map borders of a potential Pearl River Delta map.

With the increasing range of high end weaponry, and the imminent arrival of active radar homing missiles, it is starting to become apparent that some air maps are too small for what is soon to be added. The weaponry carried by the top planes in the game are starting to reach, and in some cases surpassing, over 100km. At optimal launch conditions, these weapons are getting close to being able to shoot down aircraft taking off from their runway, from the runway on the opposite side of the map. The current maps are just much too small to fit these long range weapons, and should be replaced by larger ones or expanded in general.
Maps in the current game, besides a select few, are just too small. Overwhelmingly they are ~128x128km, an area of 16384 sq km. At maximum ranges of these maps, about 184km can exist between the runways - this is assuming that the runways are placed in the very corners of the map, allowing as much area as possible to be utilized. Simply put, that is too small to provide the kind of battles that should be present, and it seems destined to drag every match into one giant furball where most of the team converges on specific points, and it just becomes a game of luck.
Another issue with the current maps is that, especially concerning the newer ones, they are basically entirely nameless. Whereas old maps, such as Berlin, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Moscow, Denmark, Spain, Ruhr, and others, had maps with city names, and even sometimes real airports, newer maps are lacking in this department. It feels less and less immersive to be at a nameless city, landing on an airport that doesn’t exist, or fighting above a landscape that only bears a passing resemblance to its real-world counterpart. The mere inclusion of some names and some foundation in reality can help make the game feel more impactful, and also allow for more customization in how missions take place.

This all leads me to Southeastern City, and why I think it should be changed to Hong Kong, and made part of a larger Pearl River Delta map. Enlarging the map would allow for an increased playable area, with longer ranges to supplement the newer and more advanced weapon systems. Such a change, assuming multiple airports are implemented, would allow a segway away from the chaos-induced furball that most games turn into, through having multiple routes to any given objective. It would also allow the game to feel more grounded in reality, even if the conflict taking place is completely fictional. Allowing the players, and mission makers, more freedom to design missions that feel like a real battle is happening, and to be immersed in the experience.

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Southeastern City, as it is currently. Except for the airbase on Lantau Island, all the islands the airbases are on do not exist in real life.

Map Size
One of the first things that needs to be addressed is map size. While not being entirely accurate to the “drawing” depicted at the beginning, ideally the map would be between the 26°N and 21°N latitude lines, and between 109.75°E and 117°E longitude lines; 109.75°E instead of 110°E to fit an airbase on the Western side of the map. With these dimensions, the map would be ~555km (N/S) x ~740km (E/W), giving a total area of ~410,700sq km. To create specific smaller maps, the battle area can be restricted using mission editor tools.

Time Period
There are two time periods that I was looking at for this map. The first is 1987, and the second would be 10 years later, in 1997.

Background, 1987

In 1987, the Chinese Economic Reform was in full swing, and cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Foshan, and Dongguan would begin to become large, “skyscraper,” cities in this time. Macau and Hong Kong were still colonies of Portugal and Britain, respectively, during this time, but agreements were being made to return the territories to Chinese control. Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou were designated as three of the four original “Special Economic Zones” in 1980, leading to their rapid expansion. Guangzhou, and the Pearl River Delta in general, were designated as an “Open Economic Zone” in 1985, allowing even more expansion. By 1987, there were new skyscrapers being built in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shantou, and although Hong Kong still had the most skyscrapers at the time, the other cities started to get some as well. However, most buildings in the cities (besides Hong Kong), were mid-rises.
Within Hong Kong itself, in 1987 there was only one cross-harbor tunnel, the aptly named Cross Harbor Tunnel. The Aberdeen Tunnel, Airport (Kai Tak) Tunnel, and the two Lion Rock Tunnels had all been completed by then. Several railway tunnels were also in operation at this time. The Lai Chi Lok, Rambler Channel, Liu To, and both the North and South Tsing Yi bridges had all been completed by 1987 as well.

Background, 1997

Between 1987 and 1997, the Pearl River Delta underwent continued expansion. Hong Kong was transferred to China in 1997. While having been slowed due to events in the late 80s, Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992 helped to save the economic expansion and let it continue mostly unabated. During this time, between 1987 and 1997, the skylines of most cities involved expanded dramatically, with many new buildings being constructed.
Another addition to the area were several new airports, including Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok International Airport, Macau’s International Airport, Shenzhen’s Bao’an International Airport, and Zhuhai Jinwan Airport.
More airports, in terms of the game, means more places to land that are part of the map, and enhances the areas where missions can be created and launched from, without the need for Dynamic Airfields.

Cities
This map would include several cities, by virtue of being incredibly large. Hong Kong and Macau are two major important coastal cities, and would likely be prominent set pieces for any missions taking place here. Other prominent cities are Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhanjiang, and Shantou. All of these cities would feature a large amount of skyscrapers and narrow streets, allowing for a unique play area.
Less prominent, but still important, cities are ones like Yulin, Guilin, Shaoguan, Huizhou, Zhuhai, and Meizhou. Most of these cities have an airport/airbase nearby, and as such are important to note.

Airports
This map features 20 large paved airports, with five of them being exclusive to the 1997 version of the map. Due to being part of the map, it won’t require the placement of dynamic airfields for missions to be created, instead using the “zone runway” tool.

Map with Airfields


Map showing the major airports and airbases. Purple are only present in the 1997 version, blue is civil, red is military, and mixed colors are mixed use. Some of them may be hard to see.

Airports List

It will be noted if airports are not included in the 1987 version of the map.

Chep Lap Kok International Airport
Not present in the 1987 version.
Hong Kong’s main airport following the closure of Kai Tak in 1998. It is situated on the formerly separate islands of Chep Lap Kok and While not open in 1997, the two runways were paved and the construction had progressed to the main airport facilities; this would allow landing at this airport, even if it is not fully complete.

Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport
Not present in the 1987 version.
Shenzhen’s airport, opened in 1991. This airport, at the time in question, only has one runway, 15/33, oriented north/south and 3400m (11,155ft) long, but has ample parking room for many aircraft.

Macau International Airport
Not present in the 1987 version.
Macau’s airport, opened in 1995. It has one runway, 16/34, oriented northwest/southeast, that is 3,360m (11,024ft) long. The runway is built on a strip of reclaimed land to the east of Macau proper, while the airport facilities were built on Taipa island.

Zhuhai Sanzao Airport
Not present in the 1987 version.
Zhuhai’s regional airport, opened in 1995. It was known as Sanzao before 2013, when the name was changed to Jinwan; so Sanzao is the name here. It has one runway, 05/23, oriented northeast/southwest, that is 4,120m (13,517ft) long. It is only some ~27km away from the nearby Macau International Airport.

Guilin Liangjiang International Airport
Not present in the 1987 version.
Guilin’s main civil airport, opened in 1996. It has one runway, 01/19, situated north/south, that is 3,200m (10,499ft) long.

Kai Tak Airport
Hong Kong’s main airport from 1925 to 1998, this airport was situated in Kowloon and stretched into the Kowloon Bay. Runway 13/31, the single runway by this time, was situated on reclaimed land in Kowloon Bay. It was oriented southeast/northwest and was 3,390m (11,122ft) long. The unique placement of the runway birthed the rather famous “Kai Tak” approach, where approaching aircraft would have to approach from the southwest, find a visual landmark (Checkerboard Hill), and then make a steep ~43° bank right over Kowloon beginning at less than 300m (1000ft) to align with Runway 13, ending the turn being only 3.7km (2nmi) from the runway, and while still descending down to sea level.

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport
Not to be confused with the other airport of the same name, this was Guangzhou’s main airport from 1933 to 2004. It had one runway, 03/21, oriented north/south, that was 3,380m (11,089ft) long. When closed in 2004, the name shifted to the new Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport that was ~23km to the north, and this airport is now known as Guangzhou Baiyun Airport (former).

Meizhou Changgangji Airport
Meizhou’s main airport, opened in 1987. It has one runway, 04/22, oriented northeast/southwest, that is 2,400m (7,874ft) long. It was called Changgangji until 2019, when the name was changed to Meixian.

Zhanjiang International Airport
Zhanjiang’s main airport from 1952 to 2022. It had one runway, 16/34, oriented north/south, that was 2,400m (7,874ft) long. Over its lifespan, it was called many different names, Xiting, Potou, and Xiashan. I am not sure which name it would be called under the time period(s) in question.

Guilin Qifengling Airport
Guilin’s main airport before the opening of Liangjiang. After 1996, this airport transferred to exclusively military use, but prior to the opening of Liangjiang, it was dual-use by the military and for civil purposes. It has one runway, 18/36, oriented north/south, that is 2,300m (7,546ft) long.

Guangzhou East Airfield
This dual use airport is to the east of Guangzhou and the main international airport. It has one runway, oriented northwest/southeast, of unknown length but probably about 1,800m (5906ft).

Shantou Waisha Airport
This dual use airport was the main airport for Shantou until a new civilian airport was opened in 2011. It has one runway, 04/22, oriented northeast/southwest, that is 2,500m (8,202ft) long.

Shaoguan Danxia Airport
This dual use airport was an airbase built in 1970, that briefly operated commercial traffic between 1986 and 1989. It has one runway, 15/33, oriented northwest/southeast, that is 2,800m (9,186ft) long.

Ganzhou Huangjin Airport
This dual use airport was the main airport for Ganzhou between 1936 and 2008. It was used by the USAAC Fourteenth Air Force as part of the China Defensive campaign. It had one runway, 07/25, oriented northeast/southwest, that was 2,200m (7,218ft) long.

Foshan Shadi Airport
This dual use airport was originally an airbase built in 1954. It hosted civilian traffic from 1985 to 2002, and then again from 2009 onwards. It has one runway, 01/19, oriented north/south, that is 2,800m (9,186ft) long.

Huizhou Pingtan Airport
This dual use airport was originally built as an airbase in the 1950s. It hosted civilian traffic from 1984 to 2002, and then again from 2015 onwards. It has one runway, 09/27, oriented east/west, that is 2,400m (7,874ft) long.

Shek Kong Airfield
This dual use airfield is located in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Before the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, this airfield was known as RAF Sek Kong. It housed No. 28 Squadron RAF, and the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force. It started construction in 1938, but was completed in 1950 due to being suspended from 1941 to 1945. It has one runway, 11/29, oriented east/west, that is 1,905m (6,250ft) long.

Suixi Airbase
This military airbase was constructed probably during the 1950s. In 1996 it hosted the second batch of J-11 (Su-27SK). It has since been expanded to two runways, but during 1987/1997, it had one runway, 11/29, oriented east/west, that was 2,800m (9,186ft) long.

Guiping-Mengshu Airbase
I cannot find a date of construction and/or opening for this military airbase, so it may be outside of the time period being suggested. It was present in 1995, which means it existed in 1997, but I do not know about 1987. Regardless, this military airbase has one runway, of unknown number, oriented east/west, that is ~3,000m (9,843ft) long. It features some of the underground aircraft hangars on the north side of the airbase.

Xingning Airbase
This military airbase was built sometime before the 1970s, and has one runway, 15/33, oriented north/south, that is 2,600m (8,530ft) long.

Landmarks
Several landmarks exist around the map, particularly around the coast. To provide an authentic feel to the map, these landmarks should be added in. Some maps in the game already have landmarks, such as the Cologne Cathedral on the Cologne map, the Kremlin on the Moscow map, and others, and this map should follow that trend.

Landmarks of Hong Kong

Checkerboard Hill


Checkerboard Hill, visible as a Cathay Pacific flight performs the right bank to land at Kai Tak. The hill was a visual marker for pilots as to when to start the turn.
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Checkerboard Hill, visible on the northwest side of Kai Tak. Arrows represent the typical approach for planes.

Kowloon Walled City
Only present in the 1987 version, it was demolished 1993-1994.
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Kowloon Walled City, likely during the 1970s. It still holds the record for densest settlement. Checkerboard Hill can be seen in the background.

Lion Rock and Tunnels


Lion Rock, a lion-shaped rock overlooking Kowloon. Two vehicle tunnels cross underneath the mountain Lion Rock is on.

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The two Lion Rock Tunnels. One was constructed in 1967, and the other was constructed in 1978. In game, in the current Southeastern City, or “Hong Kong”, map, these are combined into one supersized tunnel so that planes can fly through it.

Tan Tian Buddha
Only present on the 1997 version, it was only completed in 1993.
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Tan Tian Buddha, a large Buddha statue on a bit west of Lantau Peak, on Lantau Island. In game, it and the nearby Po Lin Monastery, is incorrectly on Hong Kong Island.

Bank of China Tower
Present in both versions, under differing configurations.
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Bank of China Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong between 1990 and 1992. Construction started in 1985, and finished in 1990, which means that in the 1987 version of the map, this building would be under construction.

Central Plaza
Not present in any form in the 1987 version.
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Central Plaza, the building that surpassed the Bank of China Tower in height. Completed in 1992.

Cross-Harbor Tunnel


The first tunnel across Victoria Harbor, this tunnel connected Kowloon and Kellett Island, from which a bridge led to Hong Kong Island. Opened in 1977.

Eastern Harbor Tunnel
Not present in the 1987 version.
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The second tunnel across Victoria Harbor, this one is just east of the end of Kai Tak’s runway. Opened in 1989.

Aberdeen Tunnel
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Tunnel between the north and south sides of Hong Kong Island. Opened in 1982.

Tsing Ma and Kap Shui Mun Bridges
Not present in the 1987 version.
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Tsing Ma bridge with Kap Shui Mun in the background. These bridges connect the islands of Tsing Yi, Ma Wan, and Lantau. They are connected by the Ma Wan Viaduct. The three bridges were completed in 1997.

Honorable mention(s)
Wikipedia - List of tallest buildings in Hong Kong (Be sure to sort by year)

Landmarks of Macau

Fortaleza de Monte


An old Portuguese fort on the Island of Macau.

Bank of China Building
Not present in the 1987 version.


Building for the Bank of China in Macau, completed in 1991.

Nova Taipa Gardens
Not present in the 1987 version.
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Nova Taipa Gardens, a complex consisting of several large buildings. Completed in 1997.

Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge
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Bridge connecting Macau and Taipa, completed in 1974.

Other Landmarks

Guomao Building, Shenzhen
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Shenzhen, sometime around 1987. The Guomao Building is the tallest in frame, on the left. It is 50 stories tall, and was the tallest building in China from 1985 to 1990.

Shun Hing Square, Shenzhen
Not present in the 1987 version.
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A supertall skyscraper in Shenzhen, that was the tallest building in China from its completion to the completion of the CITIC Plaza, both in 1996.

Window of the World, Shenzhen
Not present in the 1987 version.
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A theme park in the west of Shenzhen, opened in 1995. Features a large glass pyramid, along with several scale replicas of worldwide attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Cologne Cathedral, the Colosseum, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids of Giza, Christ the Redeemer, Mount Rushmore, and others.

Guangzhou Hotel, Guangzhou


A 27 story tall hotel, that was constructed during the 1960s amid the Cultural Revolution. It was the tallest building in China from 1968 to 1976, when it was surpassed by the Baiyun Hotel. Pictured in 1976.

Baiyun Hotel, Guangzhou
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A 34 story tall hotel, that was the tallest building in China from 1976 to 1981.

CITIC Plaza, Guangzhou
Not present in the 1987 version.
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A supertall skyscraper in Guangzhou, taking the title from the Shun Hing Square tower in 1996. It was the tallest building in China until 1999.

Other Gamemode’s Maps
Being such a large map, the Pearl River Delta could also play host to several maps for the other two gamemodes/vehicle types, Ground Forces and Naval Forces.
Assuming a decent fidelity for building models, and middle of the road detail for the ground (somewhere between the current air maps and the current ground maps), it would be feasible to use the missionBattleArea tool to set specific areas of the map as “maps” for ground battles. Using that, it would be possible to fit multiple ground maps into the same large air map.

Ground Maps

These maps are unnamed.
Map in Urban Hong Kong
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This map would take place around Woh Chai Hill. The south border is roughly between the intersection of Tong Mi Rd and Lai Chi Kok Rd, on the southwest side of the map, and the intersection of Prince Edward Rd W and Waterloo Rd on the southeast side. The northern border is roughly between the intersection of Suffolk Rd and To Fuk Rd, on the northeast side of the map, and the SCAD Hong Kong building on the northwest side of the map - this area, by the SCAD building, is somewhat blocked by a large impassable hill.
This map would be ~1.8km in area, with sides measuring 0.45km x 0.45km. Predominantly urban in design, this map would be primarily focused on close quarters brawling, as the streets of the area do not lend well to very long range combat, due to their turns.
Map Center

Map with theme parks, western Shenzhen
Not applicable in 1987 version.
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This map centers on the area in and around the Window of the World theme park in Shenzhen. The south side is on the points of the intersection of Baishi Rd and Shahe E Rd, southeastern, and the beach of the Huaqiocheng Rengong Lake, across Baishi Rd from the Happy Mall, for the southwestern corner. The northern side is from Qiaoxiang Rd, northeastern, to Xiangshan W St, northwestern.
This map would be ~4km in area, with sides that are ~2km x ~2km. It would have a mix of urban and forested open areas, with the main setpieces of the map being the Window of the World theme park, and the nearby Happy Valley Shenzhen theme park. The latter was not opened until 1998, but was likely under construction in 1997. It would have a nice mix of both close quarters and medium-long range engagements, and would be a pretty good all-round map for all types of engagements.
It would only be applicable if the 1997 version of the Pearl River Delta is added, as Window of the World opened that year, with Happy Valley Shenzhen being under construction.
Approximate Map Center

Rural Map
No picture, as it has an undecided location. A rural map would be near a small village bordering a major road, with only small buildings. One location that I saw was near Guilin, in a valley.
Possible Map Location
A decently sized, long range map could be placed here, perhaps ~2km x ~2km, perhaps larger. Regardless, a map here, or rural in general, would lend itself towards long range engagements not too dissimilar from large versions of some maps in the game right now. It would open up large amounts of flanking opportunities, with the caveat of not much cover - most of the cover would come from being concealed behind trees or buildings.

Naval Map

A naval map on a large map like this could take place just about anywhere in the ocean, however there is not much ocean to work with for creating a large map. There is only ocean on the south side of the map, but it is still likely big enough for a naval map.


At just over 60km between Macau and Hong Kong, this area would lend itself towards long range battleship engagements. If oriented north/south, the fight could be in and around Lantau Island, or to the west of Lantau Island. The only bridge here would be the Tsing Ma bridge, which would only be present in the 1997 version.

If a smaller map is needed, a good one would be the area in and around Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor.


There are no bridges over Victoria Harbor, with the only bridge in the area being the Stonecutters Bridge, which was not built until 2004, and thus is not present in the map. To recreate obstacles for small boats to maneuver around, props of cargo ships can be used.

Concerns
My main concern for a map this large is that it might be physically impossible for such a map to be present in War Thunder. That, or there won’t be new gamemodes and missions designed to support such a map. This size of map works especially well for other flight simulator games, where the mission creator and editor is easily accessible, which is unfortunately not really the case here.
Another concern of mine is that the map will be “nameless,” like some of the newer maps. Maps like Pyrenees, Rocky Pillars, City, Rocky Canyon, and others, all feel “fake,” and in my opinion, feel like they’re bordering on an uncanny valley between just real enough to feel realistic but still noticeably fake. This is even more apparent when looking at some other gamemode’s maps, such as Golden Bay from naval, and Flanders, Golden Quarry, and other ground maps. While for ground maps, ambiguity in location is not as bad, for the larger maps such as air and naval, it feels very fake to battle somewhere that is almost real. So I hope the map gets city names on the map screen, like some of the older maps, like Moscow, Ruhr, Spain, Cologne, and others. I also hope it would have landmarks, like some of the ones I mentioned. These things will have a large impact on making the map feel real and immersive. As an aside, there are a lot of tunnels and underground passages present in the area, and I believe that while these should be represented, they probably should also be made large enough for a player to fly through, just to give the map some variety, even if such an enlargement is not accurate.
A final concern that I have would be the lack of missions for this size of map. While yes, large scale missions could be created, it would need features that aren’t in game yet such as in-air refueling, but most of the missions currently in game would be too small for a large map such as this. Even the Air EC maps would only take up a small section of a map like this, and would be hard to make without Dynamic Airfields, as there aren’t enough airfields close enough together for it.

Conclusion
Overall, I think this would be a good map to add. It could usher in more maps of similar size, for easier transitions to the “new age” of BVR combat that active radar homing will introduce. Maps this large mean that only one map has to be added to add a number of smaller maps, using border tools and dynamic airfields, even if the map itself has airfields in it already. Those pre-placed and static airfields could be used as mission set pieces, for example to have both sides fighting over the airstrip for helicopter battles.
Having such large maps in game would really expand the types of missions that War Thunder can support, for all gamemodes, and is one of the reasons I think a large map like, like this one, is a step War Thunder should take.

References

Wikipedia - Airports in China; Guangdong Province
Wikipedia - Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (New, 1996)
Wikipedia - Kai Tak Airport
Wikipedia - List of PLAAF Bases
nuke.fas.org - Chinese Airfields
ausairpower.net - Assessing PLA Underground Basing Capability
ausairpower.net - PLAAF and PLANAF Bases
University of Texas Library - TPC Map World
University of Texas Library - TPC Map, Area J-11B
University of Texas Library - TPC Map, Area H-11C
University of Texas Library - TPC Map, Area H-12D
University of Texas Library - TPC Map, Area J-12A
Wikipedia - List of tallest buildings in China (Sort by Year)
ShenzhenNoted.com - Guomao, how quickly we forget
Wikipedia - List of tunnels and bridges in Hong Kong
Wikipedia - Chinese Economic Reform, 1984-1993
Wikipedia - List of Supertall Skyscrapers (Sort by Year)
Wikipedia - List of tallest buildings in Hong Kong (Sort by Year)
Wikipedia - List of tallest buildings in Macau (Sort by Year)
randomwire - Shenzhen, Before, During and After the Construction Boom
ChinaDaily - Remembering Guangzhou in the late 80s and early 90s
Scramble.nl - Orbats China
EasternOrbat - Guangzhou MR in the 80s

Gallery

Youtube - Central Plaza at Night, 1990s, Hong Kong

Youtube - Around Hong Kong (August 1994)

Youtube - KCR Train - Hong Kong 1994

Youtube - Hong Kong Trip 1990

Youtube - Very Low Planes Over Kowloon, Hong Kong

Youtube - Cockpit View, Kai Tak Landing, 1998

Youtube - Kai Tak - Sitting on the Checkerboard

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An Air France Concorde, F-BTSC, on approach to Kai Tak, 1976.

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A British Airways 747 makes an approach to Kai Tak, 1990s.

Youtube - Air France Concorde at Kai Tak

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Shenzhen, 1980s.

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Guangzhou, 1992.

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Former Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, 1990s.


Tu-154M of Sichuan Airlines lands at Guangzhou Baiyun, 1996.

Pictures of the Former Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

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A 757 of China Southern Airline landing at the Former Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

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A J-6 (MiG-19S) of the PLAAF being towed out of an underground hangar, somewhere in the Guangzhou MR, 1980s.

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POV: You miss 2015 World of Tanks

Pearl River Delta Air EC map size 128 km x 128 km or bigger ?

+1 but it may need a big work, so we may probability cant see it

I previously made a post on the inaccuracy of southeastern city

+1 for entire pearl river delta as i also love shenzhen and guangzhou

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