History Series: The Queen Bee

As a result of rapidly improving manned and unmanned aircraft technology following WWI, the United States Navy and Army put resources behind improving their anti-aircraft gun accuracy. In 1933, they called for a radio controlled, unmanned aircraft to be built and used as a target for their new anti-aircraft systems. The Royal Aircraft Establishment, a British research institution, designed the first prototype and called it the Queen Bee. It flew for the first time in 1935 and fit on a 50 Knot rotating catapult as a launching mechanism.

The Queen Bee was the first returnable UAV, it was built with spruce and plywood biplanes and could be used on both land and sea. It could further fly a maximum height of 17,000 feet with a maximum distance of 300 miles with a speed over 100 mph.

By 1944, a total of 420 Queen Bee’s were built by Havilland and Scottish Aviation.


Sarah Baig

Marketing Coordinator

March 08, 2022