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Aircraft And Military Development & Applications
15- Bell X-1
The X-1 Program not only proved that humans could go beyond the speed of sound, it reinforced the understanding that technological barriers could be overcome. The X-1s pioneered many structural and aerodynamic advances including extremely thin, yet extremely strong wing sections; supersonic fuselage configurations; control system requirements; powerplant compatibility; and cockpit environments. The X-1 aircraft were the first transonic-capable aircraft to use an all-moving stabilizer. The flights of the X-1s opened up a new era in aviation.
The first X-1 was air-launched unpowered from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress on Jan. 25, 1946. Powered flights began in December 1946. On Oct. 14, 1947, the X-1-1, piloted by Air Force Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager, became the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound, reaching about 700 miles per hour (Mach 1.06) and an altitude of 43,000 feet.
The number 2 X-1 was modified and redesignated the X-1E. The modifications included adding a conventional canopy, an ejection seat, a low-pressure fuel system of increased capacity, and a thinner high-speed wing.
The X-1E was used to obtain in-flight data at twice the speed of sound, with particular emphasis placed on investigating the improvements achieved with the high-speed wing. These wings, made by Stanley Aircraft, were only 3 3/8-inches thick at the root and had 343 gauges installed in them to measure structural loads and aerodynamic heating.
The X-1E used its rocket engine to power it up to a speed of 1,471 miles per hour (Mach 2.24) and to an altitude of 73,000 feet. Like the X-1 it was air-launched.
The X-1 aircraft were almost 31 feet long and had a wingspan of 28 feet. The X-1 was built of conventional aluminum stressed-skin construction to extremely high structural standards. The X-1E was also 31 feet long but had a wingspan of only 22 feet, 10 inches. It was powered by a Reaction Motors, Inc., XLR-8-RM-5, four-chamber rocket engine. As did all X-1 rocket engines, the LR-8-RM-5 engine did not have throttle capability, but instead, depended on ignition of any one chamber or group of chambers to vary speed.
The X-1E was the last rocket-powered X-Plane at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station until the arrival of the first three X-15s.
Even though contemporary jet fighters could attain similar airspeed, the X-1E provided valuable rocket experience put to good use on the X-15 program .
I love the apparently casual attitude exhibited by the pilot and ground crew in this photo (I assume the guy with the hose is conducting some sort of non-volatile purge.) These guys had the best toys ever.
The X-1 and the D-558-II were among the very scarce sources of data on transonic flight conditions in the period 1947 to 1950 until the NACA developed better wind tunnels. These aircraft then contributed data to validate that derived from the tunnels by providing a reality check in the form of corresponding information from a real flight environment.
General Characteristics (Bell X-1)
Length: 30 ft 11 in (9.4 m)
Wingspan: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Height: 10 ft (3.3 m)
Wing area: 130 ft² (12 m²)
Empty weight: 7,000 lb (3,175 kg)
Loaded weight: 12,225 lb (5,545 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 12,250 lb (5,557 kg)
Powerplant: one × Reaction Motors XLR-11-RM3 liquid-propellant rocket, 6,000 lbf
(1,500 lbf per chamber) (26.7 kN) each
Maximum speed: 957 mph (Mach 1.26) (1,541 km/h)
Range: five minutes (powered endurance)
Service ceiling: 71,902 ft (21,916 m)
Wing loading: 94 lb/ft² (463 kg/m²)
Specificiations (Bell X-1E)
Data from The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45
Length: 31 ft (9.4488 m)
Wingspan: 22 ft 10 in (6.9596 m)
Height: 10 ft 10 in (3.3 m)
Wing area: 115 ft² (10.684 m²)
Empty weight: 6,850 lb (3,107.107 kg)
Loaded weight: 14,750 lb (6,690.487 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Reaction Motors RMI LR-8-RM-5 rocket, 6,000 lbf (26.7 kN)
Maximum speed: 1,450 mph (Mach 2.24) (2,333.548 km/h)
Range: 4 minutes 45 seconds (powered endurance)
Service ceiling: 90,000+ ft (27,432+ m)
United States Air Force portal
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
List of experimental aircraft
List of rocket aircraft
List of X-1 flights
List of X-1A flights
List of X-1B flights
List of X-1D flights
List of X-1E flights
There were three X-1s built with the designations as follows: X-1-1 , X-1-2 , X-1-3, that were flown by eighteen pilots from 1946 to 1951.
The X-1 series aircraft were air-launched from a modified Boeing B-29 or a B-50 Superfortress bombers. Bell X-1E is mated to its mothership which is lifted on hydraulic jacks to afford access to the specially configured bay underneath.
Though originally designed for conventional ground takeoffs, all X-1 aircraft were air-launched from Boeing B-29 or B-50 Super fortress aircraft. The performance penalties and safety hazards associated with operating rocket-propelled aircraft from the ground caused mission planners to resort to air-launching instead. Nevertheless, on January 5,1949, the X-1 #1 completed a ground takeoff from Muroc Dry Lake.
The maximum speed attained by the X-1 #1 was Mach 1.45 at 40,130 feet, approximately 957 mph, during a flight by XXXX on March 26, 1948. On August 8,1949, Maj. Frank K. Everest, Jr., USAF, reached an altitude of 71,902 feet, the highest flight made by the little rocket airplane. It continued flight test operations until mid-1950, by which time it had completed a total of nineteen contractor demonstration flights and fifty-nine Air Force test flights.
Why Paint It Orange?
As this plane was small and at high altitude, it was agreed to paint it orange, so it could be seen during test runs.
On October 14, 1947, Air Force Captain Charles E. Yeager flew this experimental Bell X-1 on the first flight faster than the speed of sound. He reached a speed of 1127 kilometers per hour (700 miles per hour), or Mach 1.06 at an altitude of 13,000 meters (43,000 feet).
Nigel G Wilcox
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