Aircraft History

 

The Queen Bee was a modification of the highly successful and reliable DH82A "Tiger Moth". The main differences between the two aircraft are that the Queen Bee has an entirely wooden fuselage (that of a De Havilland "Moth Major") and a fuel tank 5 gallons larger than a Tiger Moth. Queen Bees were first produced in 1935 in response to an Air Ministry request for an inexpensive, expendable radio-controlled target drone for anti-aircraft gunnery practice. The front cockpit was fitted with conventional controls for a test pilot or ferry pilot, while the rear carried the radio control receiver and pneumatically operated servos for the flying controls. It is said to be the first full-size aircraft originally designed to fly unmanned and under radio control. A total of about 400 were built, mainly at Hatfield, and most were destroyed, suffering the fate for which they were built. After the Second World War, virtually all of the remaining airframes were broken up as scrap and burned at Redhill Airfield.

This Queen Bee, RAF Serial No. LF858, civil registration G-BLUZ, is one of about 70 machines built under licence by Scottish Aviation in Glasgow in 1944. It saw service in the Second World War at RAF Manorbier in Wales, and after the war changed hands several times before being involved in a landing accident at Old Warden, Bedfordshire, following which it was stored there by the Shuttleworth Trust for many years. In 1983, it was sold to Barrie Bayes of Cranfield, who over the course of the next four years undertook a full restoration of the aircraft, including a full rebuild of its De Havilland Gipsy Major engine. The rear cockpit has now been fitted with dual flying controls. This particular aircraft is believed to be now the world's only airworthy example of its type. The Queen Bee is currently based at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire, and has since 1995 been owned and operated by a six-man syndicate known as "The Beekeepers" flying group.