de Havilland DH82B Queen Bee

Aircraft overview:

The Queen Bee was devised as a low-cost radio-controlled target aircraft, for realistic anti-aircraft (AA) gunnery training. If it survived the shooting (as intended, by offset aiming), its controller would attempt to recover it for re-use. The Queen Bee used the engine, unslatted wings, under-carriage and tailplane of a Tiger Moth. But instead of a Tiger Moth fabric-covered metal frame fuselage, it used a wooden (spruce and plywood) Moth Major fuselage since this was cheaper and offered buoyancy in the event of a ditching. The carburettor was reversed to cope with the high forward accelerations experienced in a catapult launch. The aircraft could be flown manned, from the front seat. The enclosed rear cockpit position was equipped with RAE radio-control gear including pneumatically-operated servo units linked to the aircraft rudder and elevator controls. A four-bladed wooden windmill in the propeller slipstream on the fuselage port side drove an air-pump to provide compressed air for the gyro unit and servos. The Queen Bee was first flown, manned, at Hatfield in 1935, then remotely-controlled at Farnborough later that year. 412 were built between 1933 and 1943, 360 as float planes. Over 380 Queen Bees were built, operated by the Fleet Air Arm (many on twin floats) and the Royal Air Force.

Aircraft specifications:

Power Unit: One 130 hp de Havilland Gipsy Major 1

Wing Span: 29 ft 4 in (8.94 m)

All-up Weight (A.U.W): 1,825 lb (828 kg)

Max Speed: 104 mph (167 kph)

Ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,267 m)

Range: 300 miles (483 km)

On display at the Museum:

The Museum’s exhibit is one of only two left in the UK, was built by Scottish Aviation Ltd of Glasgow in 1943 and flew at least three times for the Army guns off Manorber, South Wales until March 1946, it was acquired in incomplete form in 1986 and restored in its original colours and markings. For demonstration purposes, solid-state electronics provide control from a remote console, the windmill drives a small generator, and the engine is a shell only, with an electric (car starter) motor and straight shaft.