RAF Kai Tak

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RAF Kai Tak
RAF Kai Tak Crest.jpg
Airport typeMilitary, Defunct
OperatorRoyal Air Force
LocationKowloon Bay, Hong Kong
Elevation AMSL9 m / 28 ft
Coordinates22°19′43″N 114°11′39″E / 22.32861°N 114.19417°E / 22.32861; 114.19417
Direction Length Surface
m ft
13/31 3,390 11,122 Asphalt

RAF Kai Tak was a Royal Air Force station in Hong Kong. It was opened in 1927 and used for seaplanes. The RAF flight operated a few land based aircraft as well as having spare aircraft for naval units.


From 1968 to 1978 it was used by various RAF helicopter units, as well as the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force and Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps Air Unit. The RAF left Kai Tak and moved most other operations to Sek Kong Airfield.

From 1993 onwards the civilian Government Flying Service replaced the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force at Kai Tak, thus ending the RAF presence at the airport.

The apron and the old NCO Mess areas were used by the Royal Hong Kong Police Force as the Police Driving School premises for a number of years until re-sited.

Non-military users[edit]

It was the main airfield in Hong Kong housing other non-military users:


During the Japanese occupation from 1941-1945, Japanese A6M Zero fighters were based at Kai Tak.

A list of British aircraft stationed there:

Aircraft Type Number Dates Notes
Gloster Meteor fighter – 1962
de Havilland Vampire fighter – 1962
de Havilland Venom fighter – 1962
Fairey Flycatcher fighter 1927–?
Hawker Horsley bomber 3 1935–1937
de Havilland Tiger Moth trainer 2 1935–1937
Chance-Vought Corsair (Fleet Air Arm) fighter 1950s
Bristol Beaufighter fighter-bomber 1950s
de Havilland Hornet fighter 1950s
Hawker Hunter fighter 1962–1967
Gloucester Javelin Mk 9FW Interdictar 1966-1967


Circa 1946, Short Sunderland Mk.V flying boats of No. 209 Squadron RAF (visible in the middle left of photo is 'WQ-S', one of the squadron's Sunderland) parked on land and at the seaplane anchorage of Kowloon Bay off Kai Tak. Also visible in the foreground is a Douglas Dakota Mk.I of No. 215 Squadron RAF.
1983, a Westland Wessex HC.2 of No. 28 Squadron RAF, normally based at RAF Shek Kong, taking off from Kai Tak during "SAREX '83" - a search and rescue exercise.

The Japanese were stationed at Kai Tak during World War II and extended the runway at the base.

A list of RAF units at Kai Tak:[1]

RAF detachments[edit]

Kai Tak runway[edit]

Kai Tak's first runway was a grass strip and the first tarmac, an east-west runway, was 457 metres long in 1939. A series of extensions were added over the years:

  • 1940s - 1,371 metres runway added by the Japanese
  • 1956 - 2,194 metres north-south runway added
  • 1970 - 2,541 metres
  • 1975 - 3,358 metres
  • post 1975 - single asphalt runway 13/31 - 3,390 metres (or 11,122 feet)


Historic buildings[edit]

Former Headquarters Building, along Kwun Tong Road.
Air-raid shelter in the former Officers' Quarters Compound.

Several buildings of the former station remain. Three of them, built in 1934,[3] are Grade I historic buildings: the Headquarters Building, the Officers Mess and an Annex Block.[4]

  • The former Headquarters Building is located at No. 50 Kwun Tong Road. It housed the Kai Tak Vietnamese Refugee Camp (啟德越南難民營) from 1979 to 1981, and was used for detaining Vietnamese refugees until 1997. It has been housing the Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre (明愛向晴軒) since 2002.[3]
  • The former Officers' Quarters Compound, which includes the RAF Officers' Mess and an Annex Block, is located at No. 51 Kwun Tong Road. It was handed over to the Government in 1978 and converted into a Detective Training School of the Hong Kong Police Force, and remained in use until 2001. It has later been refurbished as the new Kai Tak campus of Hong Kong Baptist University, housing its Academy of Visual Arts (視覺藝術院).[3][5] Other remaining structures in the compound include a former barrack office, a squash court, an air-raid shelter, a dust bin store, a Nissen Hut, a mini-range, a latrine block, basketball court and an incinerator.[3] The restoration and adaptive reuse of the Officers' Mess received an Honourable Mention at the 2009 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards.[6]
  • The Gary Block (克拉克樓), located at No. 2 Kwun Tong Road, was built in 1973. It has been converted into the New Horizons Building (新秀大廈), used by Christian Action.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Air of Authority, RAF Kai Tak
  2. ^ Kai Tak Airport Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d Brief Information on Proposed Grade II Items. Items #365, 367, 369 Archived 23 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ List of the 1,444 Historic Buildings in Building Assessment (as of 27 December 2013)
  5. ^ "Getting to HKBU - Kai Tak Campus". Hong Kong Baptist University. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  6. ^ 2009 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards Winners

External links[edit]