Queen Mary Trailer

Tasker ‘Queen Mary’ aircraft recovery Trailer

Width: 2.6m
Length: 12m

RNZAF Queen Mary trailer under restoration at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Aug 2020.

This semi-trailer was designed and built in Britain by Tasker Trailers specifically for the recovery of aircraft parts and wreckage, and was developed to meet an Air Ministry specification for a trailer able to carry an entire fighter aircraft.

The “Queen Mary” nickname is supposedly due to the large size of the trailer being compared to the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary, which served as a troop transport during WW2. Nearly 4,000 of these trailers were produced during World War Two.

The RNZAF utilised them from the 1940s through to the early 1990s; the example here in our collection was used at Wigram.

Tractor truck with a ‘Queen Mary’ trailler, MT1715, at RNZAF Station Whenuapai, 1943. Image: WhG1586-43, RNZAF Official.

Project Overview

The intention of this project is to restore our trailer to its original RNZAF in-service condition.

The Queen Mary trailer can be viewed in the Conservation Workshop on our Daily Tour.

Members of the Collections Team discussing the Queen Mary restoration, July 2020.
Members of the Collections Team discussing the Queen Mary restoration, July 2020.

What is currently happening?

Update 10 August 2021

We were unsuccessful in our attempts to obtain some of the same imperial dimension angle iron to match what was used to build the trailer originally. This angle iron is needed to repair and return the rear section to its original length. Luckily, we have a ‘Plan B’, which involves cutting down metric stock to the sizes required using a milling machine. The team in the RNZAF Ohakea metal shop have kindly offered to do this in between other priorities. When we have the material back on site, it will be cut to length and tack welded in place, after which staff from RNZAF Woodbourne training school have offered to travel down to complete the certified welding. We have also been able to identify the timber decking as being a member of the eucalyptus family, either eucalyptus pilularis (blackbutt) or eucalyptus microcorys (tallowwood) both of which are Australian hardwoods, locally available. This project will be back on view in the Conservation workshop, and work recommenced when the steel arrives.

Images 1 and 2: The ‘swan-neck’ of the trailer in a transit frame. You can see one of the steel ‘patch’ repairs where corroded material has been replaced.

Image 3: The original decking timber after removal. The identification of this timber as a species of Eucalyptus suggests that it was replaced ‘locally’ in NZ at some time during the trailer’s life.

Update 2 September 2020

Currently, the team is working through the initial project scoping and research phase. This has involved stripping the trailer back and undertaking inspections on the steel framework and timber decking to identify which elements can be conserved, and which are beyond recovery and will require replacement. Non-original components have been marked for removal.

Meanwhile, our Archives team is conducting a worldwide search for original technical publications for the trailer and information on the original timber used.

Can you help?

If you believe that you may have information that would be useful to the restoration of the Queen Mary trailer, our Technical Conservation team would love to hear from you. Please get in touch via the link below.