Wellington Z1572 VR-Q "Queenie"

If there was an early Moose squadron aircraft image still seen today more than any other it would have to be Z1572, the Wellington which became one of four Wellingtons to wear the "VR-Q" code on her side. The photo here is one of the few which clearly shows the Z1572 serial number. On the other photos the serial number is blurred, maybe by wartime censors or just a photographic error.
Across many reference sources for "Wellington" the image of Z1572 can be found, it pops up usually with the black and white version of the port side.
This image is so popular that Corgi came out with their toy Wellington bomber wearing the VR-Q designation. Many fine art representations of "Queenie" can be found as well.
Very rarely is the starboard side shown, although this blurred image most likely taken the same day as the more popular port side photo, does exist.

Operational History

Wellington Z1572 first appears in the 419 Operations Record Book on May 30th 1942, flown by P/O Jost (later S/L Jost), the operation was part of "Operation Millennium" the 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne.
From May 30th to July 23rd "Queenie" was clearly Jost's aircraft, he and his crew flew 14 of the 18 operations flown during that time. Two others flew it on operations, namely P/O Morris and F/S McGuffin.
There is no record on when or who selected the name "Queenie" and there is no indication of any nose art in the photos of Z1572. A safe bet would be that P/O Jost or his crew selected the name, since as mentioned it was they who were on operations with "Queenie" more then anyone else.

Queenie Lost to Damages

On July 23rd while taking off on a raid on Duisberg the Wellington's port tire failed. P/O Jost managed to get the aircraft airborne and continue on to the target. Which would indicate the tire failed as "Queenie" was under the effects of lift on the wings and the tire's failure did not cause a mishap at take- off.
Jost returned to the airbase at just under four hours later. Squadron Commander W/C Fulton advised Jost to lower the landing gear and when down to apply the brake on the starboard side hard, to counter the effect of the lost port side tire. The advice worked and VR-Q landed without injury to the crew, although it was damaged by the port propeller hitting the ground. The action of the propeller hitting the ground also worked back to the port engine itself. The damaged engine and props would send Z1572 away for repairs until October 6th.

P/O Jost's crew were:
Navigator P/O Harold William Thompson
WAG F/S Fredrick William Cassidy
A/G R/G P/O Gerald Charles Hart
Wireless/Op Sgt. Hall

The next VR-Q was serial number DF665, she had a short span with 419 Squadron. On August 29th with a brand new crew DF665 was on an operation to Saarbrucken and did not return. It was almost a fore shadowing of the events to occur to the first Halifax VR-Qs to come.

It wasn't until October 6th that the squadron again had a "Q" in the Battle Order. As it happened Z1572 was returned to service with 419 and was redesignated VR-Q. After it's return, VR-Q's crews did not include P/O Jost. The only two crews to fly her were those of Sgt. Bell and Sgt. Jolley.
It is not clear if the name "Queenie" was still used on her return, in any event Z1572 only flew another two operations with 419 Squadron, before being transferred to 427 Squadron.

Other VR-Q

Wellington Z1095 Mk1C February 16th 1942 to March 3rd 1942- Transferred out.

Wellington X3703 Mk1II March 25th 1942 to May 9th 1942- Lost over Warnemunde

Wellington Z1572 Mk1II May30th 1942 to July 23rd 1942- Damaged during landing

Wellington DF665 Mk1II August 6th 1942 to Aug 29th 1942- Lost over Saarbrucken

Wellington Z1572 Mk1II October 6th 1942 to October 15th 1942- Transferred to 427 Squadron

There is one article on Z1572 using the photo of VR-Q, reporting on the problems encountered by the crew and the Wellington on the night of March 5/6 1943. By that date 419 Squadron were no longer flying Wellingtons and so it would not have been Z1572 as VR-Q which ran into the difficulty.

Halifax JD459 "Queenie"

Once the change over to Halifax "heavies" was completed there were a series of VR-Q aircraft. The early months of 1943 saw three VR-Q aircraft lost between February and April 28th. DT619, BB327 and JB923.
Not until the arrival of JD459, which first appeared on ops. for the night of August 17/18 of 1943 that VR-Q showed she was in for the long term. Although this VR-Q, JD459 did have it's hard times, as described below, it completed thirty-nine operations before bad luck reached her.
JD459 acquired the name "Queenie", when and my whom she was assigned the name is not recorded. Unlike her previous name sake the crews who flew on her were many. The crew of F/L Shackleton were the most frequent names to show up on the Battle Order for JD459.
There seems to have been no attempt to name her "Queenie II" , which could be related to the fact that most of the crews now serving were not with the squadron when Z1572 was part of the 419 Squadron aircraft.
Unlike Z1572, this "Queenie" had her name painted for all to see on her nose section as well as Queenie her self painted large and visible. Shown here with members of a crew as well as ground crew members showing 26 operations completed on her side. The men in the photo maybe F/S McLeod's crew, McLeod had flown VR-Q on it's 26th operation where flak had caused damage to port wing, the nacelle of port inner engine and the port outer oil tank had a hole punched in it.

First Combat Report - November 25/25 1943

On November 25/26 1943 with F/O Boe and crew over the target area at 19,500 feet at 02.48 on the morning of November 26th they were attacked by an Me109 without the warning from their Monica radar system.
The enemy fighter was first seen silhouetted against the glow of the fires below, on the port quarter down at a range of 500 yards. JD459 was on it's bombing run flying at a speed of only two hundred and nineteen mph. As the night fighter closed to 300 yards the rear gunner Sgt. H. Salkeld called for a combat manoeuver to port, just as the ME109 opened fire with a two second burst at the Halifax. Sgt.Salkeld replied with a long burst of 300 yards at the attacker, VR-Q continued for three corkscrews before the resume course was called as the gunner had lost sight of their attacker.
"Queenie' was not to escape the enemies attentions so easily, again from the port quarter an Me210 continued the attack, positioning itself on the starboard quarter below at only 300 yards. This time Monica gave one pip and then died again. Corkscrew to starboard was ordered and again the attacking night fighter became lost to sight. The rear gunner did fire nor did the Me210 and soon the resume course order was given and they headed back to base.

Almost Ditched

Late January found "Queenie" over Berlin with W/C Pleasance at the controls. Halifax JD459 required precious extra petrol to gain height as the W/C decided to go in with the first wave, only to overshoot the target and have to re-enter the bomber stream joining in at the end of the last wave. As they headed home the port outer engine failed. Their petrol supply was also getting seriously low.
As they came close the English coast heavy fog hampered their way. With ditching becoming a possibility the wireless operator send out the days IFF on a wide pulse. With a stroke of luck the flare path to Woodbridge came into view as ditching seemed the only option. With only 30 to 40 gallons of fuel left Pleasance landed "Queenie" safely.

Combat Report February 19/20 1944

While P/O Scade entered the target area on the night of February 19th/20th, coming in at a slow speed of just 196 mph at roughly 18,000 a Ju88 attacked from the port quarter up at approximately 500 yards off. The rear gunner Sgt. Lee saw the fighter and called for corkscrew to port while he opened fire with just a short burst then as he attempted a second burst the guns failed almost completely. With only one of the four barrels managing to get off 75 rounds before it too jammed. The fighter broke of it's attack at 300 yards climbing off to the starboard side.
After many tense moments wondering if the attacker had noticed the lack of return fire from the bomber, and would he come back to attack from astern while Lee's guns were still out of action. Eventually after much scanning of the skies by both gunners and anyone else who could search the surrounding darkness the resume course command, Sgt. Lee worked at clearing the jammed guns. The only way this can be done is with a long wire like device working the mechanism to clear the jammed cartridges. All of which is done in the dark at arms length. Sgt. Lee managed to clear the guns and was again scanning the skies for any fighters as they continued on to their return to base.

"Queenie" meets the Same Fate As Z1572

The target for F/O Barclay and his crew was one of the large marshalling yards. "Queenie" had a heavy bomb load on board and was assigned one of the shorter runways. The Halifax was unable to get enough lift to clear a block house ( sometimes referred to other sources as a Pill Box) lying some distance from the end of the runway. The rear wheel was ripped off and the bomb doors were badly damaged (or partly missing), the force of the strike was enough to make the middle upper turret dome fly off. One of the 1,000 pounds on board had the fin ripped off of it during the collision with the building. Fortunately the impact did not cause the aircraft to spin into the ground.
The noted in the squadron log mention it was difficult for Barclay to climb above 800 feet but did eventually gain the height of 1,500 feet and jettison the bombs out over the sea.
Now he had to make an emergency landing back at the base. He and others did not know the extent of the damage to the Halifax. Barclay was sure the undercarriage was damaged or the doors to them could have been jammed. So his only choice was to perform a crash landing with the gear up. As all the crew braced for the impact and possible fire the Halifax made it's way towards runway No.6. The aircraft overshot the runway crossing over to the perimeter track where a Motor Transport was parked. The heavy aircraft completely wrote off the truck, injuring the driver. The aircraft's impact helped slow momentum then "Queenie" now also completely damaged beyond repair stopped and let her crew get out.
It was rough ride for the crews third time out for 419 Squadron. But they all survived and went on with the squadron flying Lancasters until November when four of the crew were posted to "R" Depot. Their new F/E Sgt. D.V. Askew -RAF continued on in his RAF career.
F/O Barclay's crew were:
Navigator F/O P Hackey
B/A F/O M. Green
F/E Sgt. R.A. Afford
WAG WOII D.S. Taylor
MU/G Sgt. J.R. Devon
R/G Sgt.D.L. Gibson

There were two changes to the crew before they completed the Tour F/O G.C. Gillespie replaced F/O Green as Bomb Aimer and Sgt. Askew became their F/E.