Airspeed AS.30 “Queen Wasp”
Single-engine pilotless target biplane aircraft
Archive Photos 1,2
The prototype AS.30 “Queen Wasp”, K8887, wireless-controlled target biplane (Photo via Jane's 1938) 1
The second prototype Airspeed AS.30 “Queen Wasp&rdquo, K8888, with the big floats which gave it a more balanced appearance than that of the landplane version. (Collector card image via the Skytamer Archive, copyright © 2013 Skytamer Images) 2
The Airspeed AS.30 “Queen Wasp” was a British pilotless target aircraft built by Airspeed Limited at Portsmouth during the Second World War. Although intended for both Royal Air Force and Royal Navy use, the aircraft was fated not to go into series production.
Design and Development 4
The Queen Wasp was built to meet an Air Ministry Specification Q.32/35 for a pilotless target aircraft to replace the de Havilland Tiger Moth based de Havilland Queen Bee. Two prototypes were ordered in May 1936, one to have a wheeled landing gear for use by the Royal Air Force and the other as a floatplane for Royal Navy use for air-firing practice at sea. Powered by the Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah engine, a total of 65 aircraft were ordered, contingent on the success of the flight test program.
The aircraft was a Single-engine biplane constructed of wood with sharply-tapered wings and fabric-covered control surfaces. An enclosed cabin with one seat was provided so the Queen Wasp could be flown manually with the radio control system turned off. The radio control system was complex with a number of backup safety devices to ensure radio and battery operation was uninterrupted. A trailing receiver aerial was winched out after takeoff and served as an automatic landing device which was activated when the trailing aerial weight hit the runway. The sensitivity of the system in turbulent weather meant that an alternative landing signal was used to initiate a landing procedure.
The landplane first flew on 11 June 1937, and the floatplane on 19 October 1937. The floatplane was successfully catapulted from “HMS Pegasus” in November 1937.
Operational History 4
In flight tests, the aircraft was found to be underpowered and water handling difficulties necessitated a redesign of the floats by their builder Shorts. Although the production run of 10 aircraft was begun (P5441-P5450), only three more aircraft were completed and delivered to the Royal Air Force.
Airspeed proposed a number of unsuccessful designs derived from the Queen Wasp including the AS.38 communications aircraft and the AS.50 trainer developed to meet Specification T.24/40.
Specifications (AS.30 Landplane and Seaplane) 5