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By Ben Guenther and Jay Miller
P.O. Box 200006
Arlington, Texas 76006
ph. 214 647-1105
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ph. 715 294-2090
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X-1 SECOND GENERATION
1. De-icing Fluid Tank 22.
2. Canopy 23.
3. Oxygen Filler 24.
4. Lox Tank 25.
5. Nitrogen Filler 26.
6. External Power Receptacle 27.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide Filter
8. Hydrogen Peroxide Tank
9. Lox Filler
10. Fuel Tank
11. Fuel Filler
12. Turbine Pump
13. Pick-Axe Antenna
14. XLR11·RM-S Motor
15. ANfAPN-60 Antennas
16. AN/APN-60 Radar Installation
17. Pitol Tube
18. Tube Bundles (Nitrogen)
19. Main Wheel Door Actuator Air Bollie
20. Main Wheel Door Actuator Air Bottle
21. AN/AAC-5 Radio Installation
Stor.k No. 0303
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS:
Army Air Force
Air Force Base
Air Research and Development Command
Aeronautical Systems Division
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Pilotless Aircraft Research Division
Pounds per Square Inch
Reaction Motors, Inc.
United States Air Force
Very High Frequency
THE BELL X·1 VARIANTS STORY
The second X-I, 46-063, during final assembly inside Bell's Niagara Falls, New York facilily, during late The with a thickness/chord ratio of 8%, and its associated
center section, later were swapped with the 10% wmg of the flfsl X-I, 46-062, pnor to the latter s hlslonc flfst supersonic flight on October 14, 1947.
With the exception of their wings and serial numbers, when compfeted, 46-062 and 46-063 were externally, Virtually Identical.
Rarely seen view of all three first-generation Bell X-I s under construction inside the Bell plant during late 1945. The
aircraft on the left is 46-062, the one m the middle IS 46-064, and the one on the far nght IS 46-063.
The forward fuselage section of 46-062 has been rotated 90° in its support crade.
Thus it is that all compressibility effects depend upon
the relationship of airspeed to the speed of sound. It is
important to note that Ernst Mach (pronounced "Mahk"),
a nineteenth century Austrian physicist and mathemati-
cian, became the first to enunciate the mathematical
theory dealing with airflow. This theory assigned a
numerical value to the ratio between the speed of a solid
object through a gas (or space) and the speed of sound
through that same medium. This became known as
"Mach number"-with Mach 1 being equivalent to the
speed of sound and with anything more or less than Mach
1 being given in terms of a percentage (i.e..85 Mach
would be 85/100ths the speed of sound; Mach 2 would
be twice the speed of sound; etc.). Today, Mach is the
generally accepted term used to quantify supersonic
By the beginning of WWII, aerodynamicists, structural
engineers, powerplant designers, and numerous pilots
had concluded that the science of flight was faced with
an insidious aerodynamic hurdle of truly staggering im-
plications. For the first time ever, compressibility
phenomenon (also later referred to as the "transonic bar-
rier" or "sound barrier"), a dynamic gaseous event
wherein air molecules compress into a seemingly im·
penetrable wall in front of an aircraft's wings and fuselage
(and, as it were, spinning propeller blade leading edges)
when it nears Mach 1, had raised its serpentine head.
During the late 1930s and very early 1940s, new high·
leading edge and all changes in velocity and pressure
take place quite sharply and SUddenly. The airflow ahead
is not influenced until the air molecules SUddenly are
forced out of the way by the concentrated pressure wave
set up by the actual object.
Simply stated, compressibility anomalies occur at those
speeds which approach or exceed the speed of sound.
This velocity, in turn, is defined as the speed at which
small pressure disturbances will be propagated through
the air-which in turn is solely a function of air
temperature. The accompanying table illustrates speed
of sound variations in the standard atmosphere:
Variation of Temperature and Speed of Sound
With Altitude in the Standard Atmosphere
Altitude Temperature Speed of
As an object moves through the air mass, velocity and
pressure changes occur which create pressure distur-
bances in the airflow surrounding the object. Traveling
at the speed of sound, these pressure disturbances are
propagated through the air in all directions, extending in-
definitely. If the object is traveling at low speed, the
pressure disturbances primarily are propagated ahead
of Ihe object and the oncoming airflow thus is influenced
by the pressure field being generated.
Once an object approaches sonic velocity, this
scenario dramatically changes. There now is no warn-
ing for oncoming air molecules that the object is about
10 pass through. The oncoming air molecules cannot be
influenced by a pressure field because none exists
ahead. Thus, as flight speed nears the speed of sound,
acompression wave (shock wave) is formed at the
The authors and Aerofax, Inc. would like to express
our thanks to the many individuals who contributed to this
detailed description of the Bell X-1 research aircraft
family. Three people who were particularly helpful in
3ssisting us under the auspices of Bell Aerospace
[extron include Eddie Marek, Stanley Smolen, and Bob
3herwood. Eddie's Willingness to pull and file rare original
legatives, and Bob's willingness to let him do it, provided
the final contribution assuring the publication of this book.
Stan's support and assistance gave Eddie the boost
needed to persevere while digging. Because of the ef-
forts of these three individuals, much of the imagery seen
on the pages of this book has been released for pUblic
consumption for the first time.
Others whose efforts on our behalf won't soon be
lorgotten include David Anderton, Bill Beavers, 'Joe
Cannon, Bob and Gloria Champine (the latter of NASA
Langley), Robert Cooper, Richard Forest (special thanks),
Elaine Heise (Bell Aerospace Textron), Wes Henry (USAF
Museum), Cheryl Hortel (Office of History, Edwards AFB),
Alvin "Tex" Johnston; Helen Lapp (special thanks); Dave
Menard; Robert Perry (RAND Corp.); Terrill Putnam
(NASA Dryden); Michael Rich (RAND Corp.); Mick Roth;
Sue Seward, Stanley Smith (special thanks); Tom Vranas
(NASA Langley); and Lucille Zaccardi (retired from the
Edwards AFB History Office).
For another perspective on the X-1 story, Aerofax, Inc.
highly recommends Richard Hallion's Supersonic Flight
(the MacMillan Co., NY, 1972). And for a detailed descrip-
tion of the rest of the X-series aircraft, the pUblisher also
recommends author Jay Miller's The X-Planes, X-I to
X-31 (Aerofax, Inc., TX, 1988).
_____:...: __......_ ...... - ~ .....lIIIiIl. ~
One of the first Bell design studies, dated early 1945, illustrating what was to become
the Model 44, and later, the X-I. Noteworthy are the dual-wheel-and-tire main landing
gear, the side-opening canopy, and the unfaired XLRII combustion chambers.
A I/Bth-scale subsonic wind tunnel model representing the X-I as it eventually would
be built. Of particular interest is the extended landing gear configuration and
the diminutive, rarely-seen, lift dumping upper-wing-surface spoilers.
Early NACA Generic Supersonic Aircraft Studie:
performance pursuit (as they then were called) aircraft,
such as the U.S. Army Air Force's Lockheed P-38 Light-
ning and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, capable of achiev-
ing Mach numbers approaching. 75 in a dive, had begun
to enter the operational inventories of the world's military
flying services. Their speed capabilities were close
enough to sonic velocity and its associated compressibili-
ty phenomenon to cause serious, and sometimes irrever-
sible buffet, structural overload, control, and stability
Already compressibility's associated loss of control and
resultant occasional catastrophic structural failures had
led to the deaths of several pilots. It had become pain-
fully obvious to the world aviation community that, unless
something was done to eliminate or circumvent the prob-
lem, more deaths soon would follow.
Because research tools during the 1930s and early
1940s were limited in capability and technology, com-
pressibility was not an easily understood phenomenon.
Wind tunnel data, so commonplace as a means of pre-
dicting aircraft performance and flight characteristics to-
day, almost was non-existent in the speed and dynamics
regime encompassed by transonic and supersonic air-
craft design, and only bullets then were known to be
capable of stabilized "flight" at speeds in excess of sonic
Supersonic phenomena, which occurred beyond the
speed of sound, also were little understood. Such things
as wave drag, high-speed flutter, "shock stall", center-
of-pressure shift, the affect of supersonic speeds on in-
terference drag, and the static and maneuvering load
anomalies associated with supersonic flight were
mysterious, and at times frightening unknowns. There
even was concern over the possibility that something
beyond prediction might occur-no human being had
flown supersonically and lived, and no one knew for cer-
tain what strange and potentially disastrous' surprises
awaited the first to explore.
Over a period of several years, the phrase "sound bar-
rier" came to describe the invisible gaseous wall
generated in front of an object moving at or near the
speed of sound. On paper, some aerodynamicists had
predicted that at supersonic speeds, because of this
"wall", drag and lift would reach infinite proportions and
thus create a barrier that literally could not be penetrated.
The first serious thrust in the direction of conquering
compressibility had come during the SeptemberlOctober
1935 Fifth Volta Congress on High Speeds in Aviation,
held in Campidoglio, Italy. Attended by a large number
of the world's leading aerodynamicists and aviation
engineers, it proved a historic milestone due to its em-
phasis on supersonic flight.
Among the American representatives attending was
Theodore von Karman, who later would have a decided-
ly influential effect on the birth of the X-plane program
in the U.S. von Karman's reaction to the meeting was
immediate and significant; he became convinced that
supersonic flight was possible, and he became adamant
the U.S. should initiate a research program quickly that
would explore this monumental leap forward in aircraft
During approximately this same time period, another
engineer, Ezra Kotcher, who then was an instructor at
the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright Field near
Day1on, Ohio, also had become enamored with the prop-
osition of supersonic flight. Having attended a lecture by
fellow engineer Lt. Col. H. Zornig on the dynamics of
supersonic ballistics, Kotcher had come away convinced
that flight at supersonic velocities was within the realm
Over the following several years, Kotcher reviewed
what he had gathered at the Zonig lecture and by
mid-1939, was prepared when asked to write a report
describing his views on the subject of problems confront-
ing future aeronautical research and development. Com-
pleted during August, the paper was circulated through
several engineering offices, eventually finding its way
onto the desk of Maj. Gen. H. H. "Hap" Arnold, and into
the offices of the NACA (National Advisory Committee
Kotcher's paper was progressive and far-sighted. He
placed heavy emphasis on the need for an extensive
series of full-scale flight test programs to be com-
plemented by related wind tunnel studies. He also placed
heavy emphasis on the development of gas turbine and
rocket propulsion systems, already noting that the con-
ventional piston engine and its associated propeller pro-
pulsion systems would not be sufficient to explore truly
Though appearing quite reasonable from
perspective, Kotcher's ideas proved too radical fa
The rumblings of war now were becoming quite (
and the momentum being gathered in the aircraft i
was strictly production oriented. Compounding th
lem, while at the same time adding to its validity, \
fact that wind tunnel data was extremely limite(
critical area of transonic flight.
Technically the regime approximately encompa:
the speeds between Mach .7 and Mach 1.3, the tr,
envelope was important because it was in this
range that the most radical changes took place a ~
ject translated from subsonic to supersonic vel
Without wind tunnel data to verify events in this al
only way to explore it was with full-scale hardw
The basis for the wind tunnel anomaly was the
tion of shock waves off wind tunnel walls and ba
the model being tested. From Mach .7 to Mach
angles of shock wave reflection were such that it'
tually impossible to eliminate the reflection difficult
then-state-of-the-art tunnel design. Known as "ch,
the problem foiled attempts at accurate data acq
and prevented aerodynamicists from acquiring
into events in the transonic zone.
Because of this dilemma, new impetus was pia
the Kotcher proposal calling for a full-scale re
vehicle to explore transonic phenomena. Kotch
not, of course, the very first to conceive the idea 01
sonic research aircraft. His proposal, in fact, ha
preceded by the until-1940 generally unheralded
fellow aerodynamicist John Stack who, as early a
had begun conceptualizing rudimentary aircraft (
optimized for studying transonic phenomena.
By 1941 , aircraft such as the aforementioned Lo
P-38 Lightning and Republic P-47 Thunderbo,
beginning to enter the Army's inventory for the fir:
These were the first U.S. aircraft fully capable a
in the "compressibility zone" on a routine basis, at
the first to confront the realities of its affects.
The exigencies of war overshadowed the n
thoroughly explore the undesirable affects of tra
speeds on extant aircraft design technique, so th,
lem was sidestepped:temporarily by limiting aircr<
(Bot" I, to r) Dick Frost (fit. tst, proj. eng); Jerry? (chi. proj. insp); Harold Dow (B-29 co-pit); unknown: Benson Hamlin; Clarence Quillan (exp, shop man); (top I, to r) George
White (exp, hang, man); Bill Smith (chf, rock, eng); Steve Elgren; Julius Domonkos (v,p" Mfg); Jack Strickler (asst. chI. eng,); Larry Bell (pres); Leston Faneuf (pres, asst);
Harvey Gaylord; Ray Whitman (1st, v,p,); Stanley Smith (pro}, eng); Bob Woods (ch, desJch. prelim, des); Roy Sandstrom (ch, eng); Paul Emmons (ch, aero); ? Devine (compt.).
speeds to safe velocities and by beefing up structures
to withstand the loads imparted by flying at relatively high
subsonic velocities, Propulsion limitations eliminated con-
cern in level flight as no piston engine aircraft then flying
was even marginally affected by compressibility in that
The infusion of money and manpower into the war
machine that was mandated by WWII proved fertile
ground for technology, Among its many offspring were
several monumental advances in aircraft propulsion, not
the least of which were viable and routinely reusable
rocket engines and functional turbojet propulsion units,
The advent of such powerplants placed a heavy burden
on then-extant aerodynamic and structural design tech-
niques as suddenly it was possible to propei an aircraft
or missile to transonic velocities in level flight on a routine
basis, The power-to-weight ratios of these new propul-
sion systems were many times that of their piston-and-
propeller predecessors, Unfortunately, this propulsion
leap was not easily mirrored in the aerodynamic progress
of the day,
In the U,S" Robert Wolf, an engineer with Bell Aircraft
Corporation of Buffalo, New York, began like Stack, von
Karman, and Kotcher, during 1943 to conceptualize the
idea of a high-speed research aircraft, Attending a special
NACA conference in Washington, D,C, during December
of that same year, he proposed that the power advan-
tages of the new turbojet engines then under develop-
ment in Britain and the U,S, be integrated into the design
of a transonic research aircraft, Coupling this proposal
with a suggestion that development responsibilities be
undertaken by a multi-faceted team consisting of Army,
Navy, and NACA personnel, he went on to suggest that
the military fund it, the aircraft industry develop it (with
input from the military and the NACA), and the NACA
night test it Information and data generated by the NACA
program would be disseminated throughout the U,S, avia-
Parallelling Wolf's rather timely proposal, which even-
tually found its way into the upper echelons of the NACA,
was a growing sentiment within the confines of the War
Department that a serious transonic research program
be undertaken, Kotcher's 1939 proposal now resurfaced,
and with the January 1944 issuance of Confidential
Technical Instruction 1568, calling for "the initiation of
a study of the possible development of an experimental
article for the purpose of investigating aerodynamic
phenomena in the range of 600 to 650 mph", the
Development Engineering Branch of the Materiel Division
at AAF Headquarters in Washing!on, D,C, finally elected
to move forward with a legitimate research effort,
With the blessing of the Air Force, a small cadre of
aerodynamicists and engineers began studies optimized
to meet the new requirement Among these was Kotcher,
who now decided to investigate the respective advan-
tages and disadvantages of rocket (specifically an Aero-
jet unit of 4,000 Ib, th,) and jet propulsion (specifically the
General Electric TG-180 of 4,000 Ib, th,) systems for what
soon was to be known as the Wright Field "Mach 0,999"
The comparison was completed during April 1944, by
the Wright Field Design Branch of the Aircraft Laboratory
and the results led to the conclusion that a rocket-
propelled design offered the greatest performance, The
high thrust-to-weight ratio of the rocket engine, coupled
with its expected superior operation in level flight at high
altitudes, far outweighed any advantages provided by jet
propulsion systems-which were expected to require
dives from high altitude to achieve the research aircraft's
Along with the Design Branch's proposal was a pro-
spective aircraft design, Not surprisingly, it superficially
resembled the hardware that would eventually be built
by Bell Aircraft Corporation as the X-1, Its fuselage was
circular in cross section with a faired canopy, the wings
were mid-fuselage-mounted and of essentially conven-
tional straight-wing planform, and the vertical fin also was
straight The only major variation was the placement of
the horizontal tail surfaces which on the Design Branch
aircraft, were fuselage-empennage-section-mounted,
rather than vertical fin mounted,
Kotcher and von Karman now joined forces in an at-
tempt to push the transonic research aircraft proposal
through to the hardware stage, Concommitantly, the
NACA began studying alternative transonic exploration
methods, eventually working with their British counter-
parts on a series of test projects that included the use
of scale models (called "falling bodies") dropped from
full-scale aircraft flying at very high altitudes (the resulting
supersonic free-fall dives being documented both
photographically and with radar), and the use of "bump
models" attached to the upper wing surfaces of high-
performance aircraft such as the North American P-51
Mustang (during a dive from high altitude, the localized
flow over the upper surface of the Mustang's laminar flow
wing could be made to exceed sonic velocity, thus ex-
posing the small' 'bump model" to sonic airflows for short
periods of time), This work, coupled with ground
launched, rocket-propelled model tests conducted by the
NACA's Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD) at
Wallops Island, Virginia, added significantly to the basic
transonic data base without undermining the existing
need for a full-scale testbed aircraft,
While these various efforts were on-going, the Army
Air Technical Service Command, the Navy Bureau of
Aeronautics, and the NACA gathered at the NACA's
Langley Laboratory, Virginia, on March 15, 1944, and dur-
ing the course of two conferences, devoted significant
time to the problem of the transonic research aircraft The
meetings proved quite productive, not only in bringing
together for the first time the Army (Air Force), the Navy,
and the NACA, but also in initiating the first steps toward
the development of actual hardware,
As it were, the two meetings also permitted for the first
time a dichotomy to surface that eventually would lead
to two different approaches to the transonic aircraft proj-
ect The NACA and the Navy, because of these two
meetings, eventually would join forces to develop a con-
servative jet-propelled aircraft of somewhat limited per-
formance potential (thus giving birth to the Douglas
D-558-1 and D-558-2 research aircraft family), The Air
Force and the NACA would join in a less balanced rela-
tionship that would result in a somewhat more radical
rocket-propelled design (the Bell X-1 family),
The latter was the product of a May 15, 1944, meeting
with NACA representatives requested by the Air Force-
which was represented by Ezra Kotcher. The NACA, dur-
ing the course of the discussion which centered around
the aforementioned "Mach 0,999" study, asked for ad-
ditional time to respond with a design of its own, Two
months later, on July 10, the NACA proposed a more con-
servative (and thus potentially safer) aircraft that was
Three key personnel in the design and preliminary flight test stages of the X-I program
included (from I. to r.) Alvin "Tex" Johnston, Robert Stanley, and Richard Frost.
Johnston later would become one of Boeing's most accomplished test pilots.
In preparation for its static structural load test program, the first X-I was rolled
inverted via an elaborate hoist assembly and then lowered onto a special
dolly. Via the dolly, it then was moved into Bell's structural test stall.
The static structural test program was the first of its kind for a manned, supersonic
aircraft. The X-I easily met its specified 18 g load limit, making it perhaps
the strongest aircraft in the world at the time of its manufacture.
---"-- with tt
With the X-I in the pit, the 8-29 could be maneuvered into position by a tow tractor
with little difficulty. A hoist assembly then was attached to the X-I to raise
it into position. Snubbers then helped hold the X-I firmly in place.
ed in c
The first X-I, 46-062, during the occasion of its informal roll-out on December 12, 1945 Thre
A more formal event took place on December 27, after the aircraft had been painted the pr<
and minor detail work had been completed. Small transport dolly is noteworty. ductee
In order to accommodate 8-29 loading requirements, a special pit was dug next to
the Bell plant permitting the 8-29 to straddle the aircraft during the uploading
process. A similar pit also later was dug at Muroc.
The X-I 's fuselage cross-section was almost perfectly round and was marred only by
the dorsal and ventral fairings housing propellant lines and control cables. Sweptwing
L-39 testbed, one of two built by Bell, is visible in the background.
The lirst X-I, 46-062, shortly alter roll-out at Bell during early 1946. The aircralt has
yet to be painted and detail assembly is not yet complete. VHF radio mast
on top 01 the lorward luselage is noteworthy as it later was removed.
(The First Generation):
By the summer of 1944, Kotcher had received approval
Ezra Kotcher was perhaps the single most important
personality in the U.S. transonic aircraft program. Work-
ing as an engineer at Wright Field during 1939, Kotcher
proposed that the Army Air Corps sponsor the develop-
ment of a transonic flight research aircraft. This was not
given serious consideration at the time, but four years
later, following the advent of compressibility problems
with the Lockheed P-38 and RepUblic P-47 (and, by now,
numerous other high·performance aircraft, both foreign
and indigenous) strong interest in transonic flight led to
much needed government and industry support.
Kotcher, during early 1944, renewed his work on tran-
AND FLIGHT TEST
The first X-I, 46-062, during weight-and-balance tests at Betl, and 10110wing painting. Initial glide flight trials 01 the first X-I took place at Pinecastle Field near Orlando,
When empty, the X-I's center-ai-gravity was virtually neutral, thus requiring Ftorida during late January 1946. A toading pit, to accommodate B-29 ctearance
the shot-bag weights seen on the tow bar attached to the nose gear. requirements was built there, but was utilized on only a lew occasions.
powered by a turbojet engine. Air Force representatives sonic aircraft and began a study that compared the merits and permission from his superior, Dr. Theodore von
were quick to reject the proposal, and within a short time, of rocket versus jet (and ramjet) propulsion. Eventually Karman, to find a contractor and begin development of
had agreed to endorse Kotcher's original "Mach 0.999" he concluded that the rocket·prop'elled research aircraft project MX-524, a rocket-propelled transonic research air·
design as the one most likely to meet the Air Force tran- offered superior performance and greater versatility. craft. Finding a contractor, however, proved significant·
sonic research aircraft requirement. The Navy, conse· With Kotcher looking over their shoulders, an engineer- Iy more difficult than expected.
quently, elected to forge ahead with its own design, ef· ing team at Wright Field, consisting of Capt. F. D. Orazio During 1944, the U.S. aviation industry was in the mid-
lectively blessed by the NACA, and eventually succeed· and Capt. G. W. Bailey, proceeded to design an aircraft die of an incredibly massive wartime production program
ed in consummating a relatively successful, but decidedly that, it was hoped, could explore the transonic speed that eventually would result in the delivery of several
conservative flight test program with the Douglas envelope. Kotcher took this design and presented it to hundred-thousand aircraft. Virtually every aircraft
D·558-1/-2 aircraft series. several Army Air Force and NACA teams. The latter manufacturer and sub-contractor in the country was
With Air Force approval now in hand, Kotcher began needed little convincing as to the merits of the project booked solid with prime and sub-contract work.
looking for a contractor to build the aircraft he, von as NACA engineer John Stack, long a proponent of high- By the fall of 1944, Kotcher had become somewhat
Karman, and a host of other curious engineers had in speed research aircraft, had been pushing for transonic frustrated: though quick to acknowledge the need for a
mind. It now was the end of 1944, the war in Europe had research aircraft program support for well over a decade. transonic research aircraft, none of the major contrac-
reached its zenith, and the time was ripe for the next great Stack, in fact, had been instrumental in calling together tors had expressed serious interest in building it and all
ieap forward in aviation. a conference on high-speed flight in which the Army Air questioned the project's economics and timing.
Throughout 1944, design and engineering studies for Force and the Navy had been asked for the first time to Every1hing changed on November 30,1944. Bell Air.
the proposed compressibility research aircraft were con· build a transonic aircraft for research. At the time, the
ducled by the NACA, the Air Force, and the Navy. The NACA was not in the political or financial position to back craft Corporation design engineer (and one of the Bell
objective was to determine the most sensible and such a project, but it was stated unequivocally that if founders) Robert Woods, while at Wright Field on Bell
expedient means of development. either or both the Army and Navy would fund construc- business, stopped in to visit with Kotcher at his Wright
tion, the NACA would be happy to conduct the flight test Rield office. As it were, both engineers maintained a
strong interest in transonic aerodynamics, and Woods
program. had elected to visit with Kotcher to discuss recent ad-
vances and related news. Kotcher was not long in work-
ing the ensuing conversation around to his transonic
rocket propulsion. NACA engineers considered turbojet 'research aircraft. It was with some surprise that he
propulsion a safer, albeit admittedly more conservative
proposition and they asked that Kotcher reconsider his discovered Woods was a serious listener, and better yet,
stance to accommodate their wishes. one who supported Kotcher's enthusiasm for the develop-
While Kotcher and the Army Air Corps worked on their ment of full-scale transonic hardware. After hearing from
proposal, the Navy initiated work on a totally indepen- Kotcher that the Air Force would require only that the air·
dent Navy-sponsored transonic research aircraft project. craft be guaranteed safe and controllable up to a Mach
number of 0.8, Woods committed Bell Aircraft Corpora-
This eventually gave birth to the Douglas D-558-1 iion to build the aircraft of which Kotcher had dreamed
Skystreak, which proved a successful testbed, but one
of only minor importance in the field of transonic for almost five years.
research. Woods returned to Beli's plant near Buffalo, New York
several days later and with the assistance of chief
engineer Robert Stanley, immediately began assembl-
ing the engineering team that would create the world's
first manned supersonic aircraft. Among the members
chosen were Paul Emmons, Benson Hamlin, Roy Sand-
The lirst X-1 immediately 10110wing launch at altitude over Muroc during 1947. Shock diamonds are visible in the
engine exhaust and the aircralt is just beginning to accelerate. In order to preserve propellants, ascent to
mission altitude usually was undertaken with only one or two 01 the XLR11 's lour chambers functioning.
There was /ittle in the way 01 sophistication involved during the Pinecastle trials, Support personnel examine the minor wing damage that occurred lollowing the
including the use 01 a civilian "woody" to serve as a tow truck! Noteworthy, collapse 01 the left main gear during landing at Pinecastle on February 8, 1946. Pilot
though barely discernible, is the Bell logo just alt 01 the cockpit hatch. Jack Woolams is visible in his flight suit as the second person Irom the right.
strom, and Stanley Smith. Stan Smith later became chief By the summer of 1945, the new aircraft was known testing was to take place.
project engineer. in-house at Bell as the Model 44 and the Wright-Patterson The first glide flight, with ballast in place of the sti,
During his initial meeting with Kotcher, and later people had assigned it a new project designator. Now delayed powerplant, was completed successfully 0 Ten
preliminary design meetings at Bell, Woods had re- referred to as the MX-653, it was given a high priority January 25, 1946 (some controversy remains Iy wen
quested that the MX-524 aircraft be visualized in terms status and classified secret. Even at this late stage of this first glide flight date, as various sources state Janual sion t<
of turbojet propulsion. Later, however, following a review development, controversy continued as to whether the 19 as the actual day; however, research by the co-autha been I
of notes and several engineering team studies, he ac- X-1 should be ground- or air-launched. Woods, a propo- Ben Guenther, has determined the January 25 datea and th
ceded to Kotcher's recommendations and redirected the nent of the ground-launch (conventional) method felt that correct). The launch, from 27,000 feet, was relative! bed.
team to concentrate on rocket powered designs only. by designing the X-1 for ground-launch, it would be possi- problem free and with Bell company test pilot Jao Unf
By December 1944, the Air Force, Bell, and the NACA ble to eventually develop it into a point defense intercep- Woolams in the cockpit, the X-1 returned to Pinecas make
had completed the final specification draft. Consequent- tor. Stanley, on the other hand, felt that the aircraft's per- Field, safely. was ki
Iy, an NACA team submitted instrumentation re- formance would be seriously degraded by the wasting In part, Woolam's post flight report stated: Cobr£'
quirements, and Bell engineers met with Wright Field of fuel required to get to test altitude from ground level. nickn:
representatives to formalize initial configuration concepts As it turned out, Woods' argument proved in vain, as "The break with the 8-29 was clean as the XS·l comp,
dropped with an initial force of approximately one negative
and basic performance and controllability objectives. The the powerplant's turbopump, required to move fuel and g with the tail slightly low. The research airplane drifted "Tex'
official X·1 contract (W33·038-ac-9183) was signed on oxidizer from the fuel and oxidizer tanks to the rocket aft approximately one foot for six feet of drop. Aerial would
March 16, 1945. Three aircraft were to be built. They engine combustion cnambers, became seriously delin- observers unanimously agreed that the dropping $19.4'
would be assigned Air Force serial numbers 46-062, quent in meeting its availability schedule. Accordingly, characteristics were ideal. No discomfort was experienced Ch,
46-063, and 46-064. Originally these aircraft were air-launching became the only alternative that would per- by the pilot of the XS-l during the initial stages of the chief I
designated XS-1. By late 1947, due to changes in the Air mit the X-1 to achieve its performance objectives. The release. 8-29 crew members reported that they felt hardly the X-
Force designator system, the "S" (for "Supersonic") had loss of the turbopump dictated the use of pressurized any reaction to the release of the research airplane. also 0
"Once in free flight, the XS-l glided absolutely
been officially dropped. nitrogen gas to force the fuel and oxidizer from the air- noiselessly at quite a flat gliding angle, as was to be ex- ect er
Because of the scarcity of supersonic aerodynamics craft's tanks. Additionally, the nitrogen tanks added pected of such a clean design. At speeds up to 275 Frost.
data available during 1945, it was necessary for the Bell significant weight while taking up considerable internal observed mph, which was the highest reached on this engin
engineering team to make important decisions concern- volume. flight, the airplane fell as solid as a rock, experiencing and a
ing airfoil sections, pilot safety, propulsion, landing gear, The X-1 full-scale mock-up was inspected on October absolutely no vibration or noise. At the same time, it felt notori
windscreen design, structural integrity, and wing con- 10, 1945, by representatives from the Air Force and the as light as a feather during maneuvers due to the ThE
figuration based on estimated performance. The X-1 's NACA. As no major changes ensued, the design was ap- lightness, effectiveness, and nice balance between the to Mu
controls. Longitudinal stability is quite positive; slick force
fuselage configuration, for instance, was very much the proved for construction. Concommittantly, ongoing versus gsatisfactory up to 3 g's (the highest attained on time I
end product of a study of the conventional .50 calibre 6000C4 (Air Force designation was XLR11) powerplant this flight); directional stability positive, with fair dampen. to hal
bullet. This was the result of research conducted by two work by the small Reaction Motors, Inc.. engineering team ing and lateral stability about neutral, although satisfac· tic ral
of Woods' engineering team members, Benson Hamlin was given renewed support, though already it was tory for normal conditions. origin
and Paul Emmons, who had concluded that the only way becoming apparent that delivery of the first flightworthy "The stall with the landing gear and flaps retracted is tail SL
to accommodate their data gap was to observe actual ob- engine would not be on schedule. preceded by center section buffeting and occurs at an the SE
jects known to be capable of traveling at supersonic The first X-1, 46-062, was completed during late 1945, observed airspeed of 120 mph. There is no tendency to tion e
drop off on a wing and some aileron control is maintained
velocities. Discussions with ballistics experts and and rolled out of Bell's Wheatfield, New York plant doors to the end giving support to the possibility that the wing ThE
armaments specialists soon led to the conclusion that on December 27. On January 19, 1946, it was flown by does not completely stall. The stall with the landing gear flight,
little actually was known about the aerodynamics of the B-29 (45-21800) carrier aircraft (piloted by Harold Dow and flaps extended is preceded by a little less buffeting follow
.50 calibre slug. However, there was no question that it and Joseph Cannon and crewed by Ivan Hauptmann, than the clean configuration stall, and occurs at an a thin
was a stable configuration while moving at sonic William Means, and Herman Schneider) to Pinecastle observed airspeed of 110 mph. The stall is complete and two V
velocities. Field near Orlando, Florida, where preliminary flight satisfactory. The tendency for the airplane to drop off on powe
one wing or the other to a slight degree is readily cor- Bel
rected by the rudder. Aslight amount of lateral instabili·
ty, requiring correction by use of the ailerons, manifested secor
itself as the stall occurred, but is not considered to be modil
of serious magnitude. 5, wa
"The spoilers are very effective with the clean con· Chair
figuration. When the landing gear and flaps are extended, cessf
the angle of descent of the airplane is very steep and it SOl
was difficult at high altitude to determine the magnitude contr
of the increase in rate of descent due to raising the dition
spoilers. It appeared, however, that their relative effec·
tiveness was only about one-half of what it was with the stane
airplane in the clean configuration. manE
"Due to a miscalculation on the part of the pilot, the to the
airplane was landed somewhat short of the runway prop· contr
er and on the hard grass shoulder of the runway, without cond
damage. The flaring characteristics of the airplane for imurr
landing were normal.
"Visibility in flight, while not good, is adequate, although
the pilot must bank the airplane to see the landmarks
below within aradius of about five miles. Landing visibility
is good due to the steep glide angle, and ground visibili·
ty is adequate.
"Of all the airplanes the writer has flown, only the xp-n
and the Heinkle 162 compare with the XS-l for
maneuverability, control relationship, response to control
movements, and lightness of control forces. Although
these impressions were rather hastily gained during a
flight which lasted only 10 minutes, it is the writer's opi·
nion that due to these factors and adding to them the
security which the pilot feels due to the ruggedness,
The second X-I, 46-063, folfowing completion, in the static load testing jig at 8ell. Unlike the first X-I, 46-062, which
was inverted during tests, 46-063 was tested in a conventional, up-right attitude. National insigne and company
logo have been covered with wrapping paper for protection, indicating the aircraft had been painted.
The first X-l on June 4, 1946. Side-view invites comparison with standard .50 cal. Rarely seen together, the first two X-Is, 46-062 (I.) and 46-063, pose between flights
bullet. With the exception of the dorsal and ventral spines, the landing gear, and at Muroc during 1947. The 8-29 launch aIrcraft, 45-21800, IS In the background
the vertical and horizontal tail surfaces, the shape was virtually identical. The second X-I SItS Just In front of the Muroc loading pIt ramp
noiselessness, and smoothness of response of this ed the task of heading up Air Force X-1 operations. These to higher and higher Mach numbers. On September 12,
airplane, it is the most delightful one to fly of them aiL" were James Voyles, project engineer; Paul Bikle, head the fifth powered Air Force X-1 flight was successfully
Ten glide flights by the the first X-1, 46-062, eventual- of the Flight Test Division's Performance Engineering completed with a speed of Mach .92 being attained. The
Iywere completed at Pinecastle, though by March, a deci- Branch; and Col. Albert Boyd, chief of the Flight Test aircraft now was temporarily grounded in order to allow
sion to move to Muroc Air Force Base in California had Division. time for the installation of a quicker responding horizon-
been made based on the remoteness of the latter facility Boyd would shortly afterwards playa key role in the tal tail surface actuator, and at the same time, Yeager
and the expansive landing areas provided by its dry lake Air Force pilot selection process. Three pilots, Capt. was sent to Wright Field to be fitted for a pressure suit-
bed. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, Lt. Robert A. Hoover, and which was considered a necessary safety precaution at
Unfortunately, Bell test pilot Jack Woolams would not Capt. Jack Ridley, all volunteers, eventually would be the altitudes being reached.
make it to Muroc with the X-1. On August 30, 1946, he picked by Boyd from among a select group, these three By the eighth flight, Yeager had flown the first X-1
was killed in a special race-configurated P-39 nicknamed shortly afterwards being sent to Bell's Niagara Falls facili- (nicknamed "Glamorous Glennis" in tribute to his wife)
Cobra I. This heavily modified aircraft, and a sister ship ty where they were introduced to the X-1 and its various out to Mach 0.997-not only a world's speed record, but
nicknamed Cobra II, had been created specifically to idiosyncrasies. also the closest anyone had come yet to penetrating the
compete in the 1946 Thompson Trophy race. Alvin M. The NACA also moved forward with its part of the X-1 mysterious transonic barrier. It now was time to take the
"Tex" Johnston, Woolams partner in the project, later program, assigning agency test pilots Herbert Hoover big plunge.
would win the race in Cobra II, turning over half the and Howard Lilly to the project and seeing to it that they The transonic mission was scheduled for October 14.
$19,400 winnings to Woolams' wife shortly afterwards. were exposed to all facets of the program through Bell A thorough check of the X-1's powerplant and airframe
Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin now replaced Woolams as project engineer Richard Frost. was made in the interim, and additional checks were run
chief Bell test pilot and accordingly, took over his slot in Shortly after the Air Force's X-1 team members were on the carrier aircraft and various pieces of test gear.
the X-1 program. During this same time period, changes selected, the program officially got underway. On July Finally, on the scheduled morning of the flight, Yeager,
also occurred in the X-1 engineering team, with X-1 proj- 27, 1947, everyone assembled at Muroc for the beginning quietly hiding the fact that he had suffered two broken
ect engineer Stanley Smith being replaced by Richard of Air Force flight trials. It took nearly a week for actual ribs during a surreptitious fling the night before, boarded
Frost. Smith now was moved into the position of project Air Force flight testing to begin, but finally, on August 6, the aircraft and prepared for the flight. At approximately
engineer for the upcoming X-2, and Frost, a Bell test pilot following a series of ground tests to verify powerplant per- 10:00 a.m., the B-29 and its bright orange rocket-
and aeronautical engineer of significant skill and some formance, the first X-1, with Yeager at the controls, was propelled payload headed down the main Muroc strip and
notoriety, was named to replace him. dropped from its B-29 carrier aircraft for the first time over into the cool desert sky. Twenty minutes later, they were
The second X-1, 46-063, now was delivered by B-29 Muroc. Two more familiarization flights, with Yeager in at the predetermined launch altitude of 20,000 feet.
to Muroc on October 7, ahead of the first aircraft (by this the cockpit, followed, and finally, on August 29, the first The drop went smoothly. Igniting two chambers for the
time having been returned to Bell from Florida in order powered flight was successfully completed. Like his Bell initial acceleration and climb, Yeager pulled back on the
to have new 8% thickness/chord (tic) ratio wings and 6% predecessors, Yeager found the X-1 to be exceptionally X-1's yoke and headed for 40,000 feet where the speed
Vc ratio horizontal tail surfaces installed in place of the docile. • run was scheduled to be made.
original 10% tic ratio wings and 8% tic ratio horizontal A second powered flight followed on September 4, and Shortly before assigned altitude was reached, Yeager
tail surfaces-which had been removed and installed on a third on September 18. Slowly, with the successful com- began nosing over the X-1 so that 40,000 ft. would not
the second aircraft), in order to initiate the powered por- pletion of each flight, the speed envelope was expanded be exceeded. Leveling off moments later, he flipped on
tion of the X-1 flight test program.
The second X-1 successfully completed its first glide ~
flight on October 11 with Goodlin at the controls. This was !!'
followed by a second successful flight on October 14, and ~
athird on October 17. A fourth glide flight followed some j
two weeks later, and finally, on December 9, the first ~
powered flight was logged. &
Bell continued contractor-required flight testing of the
second X-1 until the middle of 1947. During March, the
modified first aircraft was completed at Bell and on April
5, was flown by B-29 to Muroc. There on April 11, with
Chalmers Goodlin at the controls, it completed suc-
cessfully its first powered flight.
Some 20 powered flights, as required in the original
contract, were completed by Bell through May 1947. Ad-
ditionally, the aircraft proved easily capable of with-
standing the required 8 g dynamic loading during
maneuvers, and handling proved virtually faultless out
to the specified Mach .8. This effectively concluded Bell's
contractor obligations and accordingly, the first and se-
cond aircraft were turned over to the Air Force for max-
imum performance flight trials.
During June 1947, Air Force and NACA represen-
tatives met at Wright Field to discuss what best approach
to take to accomplish several mutually beneficial goals.
From this meeting came a decision to allow the Air Force
to explore the transonic and supersonic speed envelope
using the first aircraft, and to allow the NACA to explore
transonic stability and control using the second aircraft.
In order to accomplish these two somewhat different ob-
jectives, the aircraft would be equipped with decidedly
different instrument packages.
Three Air Materiel Command personnel were assign-
a third rocket chamber and watched as the Mach mete§
needle rapidly progressed round the dial to the Mach
indicating point. Seconds later, with little if any
indication that something historically significant halt
occurred, it moved to the Mach 1.06 (700 mph) positiore
and stopped. .
Yeager now flipped off the powerplant switches
allowed the X-1 to decelerate down to subsonic speec
Ten minutes later, he and the orange research aircra'
touched down on Muroc Dry Lake. With little fanfare, tn
first manned supersonic flight in history had been
Yeager, later would summarize the flight in part a
"With the stabilizer selting at 2
the speed was allowed
to increase 'to approximately .98 to .99 Mach number
where elevator and rudder effectiveness were regained
and the airplane seemed to smooth out to normal flying
characteristics. This development lent added confidence
and the airplane was allowed to continue to accelerate
until an indication of 1.02 on the cockpit Mach meter was
obtained. At this indication the meter momentarily
stopped and then jumped to 1.06 and this hesitation was
assumed to be caused by the effect of shock waves on
the static source. At this time the power units were cut
and the airplane was allowed to decelerate back to the
subsonic flight condition. When decelerating through ap-
proximately .98 Mach number a single sharp impulse was
experienced which can best be described by comparing
it to a sharp turbulence bump."
The mission's achievement remained secret for In
following two months but finally, in Its December 22, 194
issue, Aviation Week leaked the news, the story mad
headlines across the country and around the
caught the Air Force completely by surprise. Rumorse
legal action, based on what was considered aver
serious security breach, persisted for weeks, but
came of them, The flight now was public knowledge an
a lawsuit could not put it back under wraps.
Air Force testing of the first X-1 proceeded at a bril
pace following Yeager's momentous flight. Furtne
aerodynamic studies were conducted during the
of 1948, and on March 26, during the 22nd Air Force mil
sion, Yeager reached a speed of Mach 1.45 (957 mph:
This was to become the highest speed attained by an
of the first generation X-1 s and was, in fact, represer.
tative of the aircraft's true maximum speed potential:
Once the speed envelope had been thoroughly eli
plored, further tests were conducted to determine
X-1's more mundane aerodynamic characteristics,
number of pressure distribution survey and low altitud!
missions were flown to ascertain controllability in
atmosphere, and a variety of high-speed and low-speel
stability trials were undertaken.
One of the first X-1 's (46-062) more unique flight
occurred during early 1949. The Air Force long had bee!
curious to know what kind of performance the X-1 couk
achieve using a conventional ground takeoff, Accordi"!
Iy, on January 5, a test was conducted from Muroe'l
Rogers Dry Lake. With Yeager at the controls and will
the first X-1 equipped with new tires, tubes, and brakl
pads, and specially fueled and balanced in order to 8C
commodate its rather fragile landing gear, ignition of a
four XLR11 chambers qUickly moved it down the takeli
strip. Just over a mlnute-and-a-half later, an altitudeo
23,000 ft. had been reached, Engine power now was em
and a glide path back to Muroc was taken, FollOWing
jettisoning of remaining propellants, Yeager completa
a smooth landing and what was to become the one an
only ground launch ever conducted by a manned, rocke!
propelled X-designated aircraft.
During the spring of 1949, several new Air Force
assigned to the Air Force X-1 program arrived at Muroo
Among them was Maj. Frank Everest, who soon
tasked with exploring the first X-1's maximum
capability. The first of these altitude flights, following I
short familiarization flight series, was conducted on Apli
19,1949. During the mission, powerplant problems CUI
tailed reaching maximum performance, though m
altitude of 60,000 ft. was attained.
Another mission on May 2 ended with even mon
serious difficulties when an explosion seriously damaga
an engine combustion chamber section and at the sam
time, jammed the base of the rudder. A relatively unevenl
ful landing followed, but the aircraft was grounded fo
almost six weeks while repairs were made.
Following the repairs, which were undertaken at Wrig
Field under Air Force supervision, the first X-1 was f!
turned to Edwards and prepared for further
flights. On July 25, It again was launched with Everes
in the cockpit, this time reaching an X-1 record altitudl
of 66,846 ft.
The second X-I shortly after roll-out during late 1946. Like 46-062, it was painted bright orange over-all, with
standard national insigne on the fuselage and wings. The Bell Aircraft Corporation logo appeared
on both the vertical fin (under the horizontal stabilizer) and the nose.
All three X-Is had conventional horizontal stabilizers and elevators. Unlike most conventional aircraft, however,
the horizontal stabilizer was adjustable in flight, thus permitting what then were considered critical
trim changes as the aircraft accelerated into the transonic speed regime.
The second X-I as viewed from the rear underscored the extreme simplicity of the basic X-I design. The circular
fuselage cross-section and mid-fuselage-mounted wings were textbook perfect. Though the X-I had a very
narrow main landing gear tread, pilots found landings generally provided few difficulties.
The second X-I, 46-063, at the time of roll-out during the fall of 1946. Like its stablemate, 46-062, the second aircraft
also was painted bright orange overall and given only conventional national insigne on its wings and fuselage.
Wingtip and nose booms accommodated static pilot and pitch/yaw data requirements.
The second X-I, 46-063, was the first to arrive at Muroc. Equipped with the first
X·I's 10% thickness/chord ratio wings, it was air-transported to California
on October 7, 1946. The first X-I, 46-062, followed on April 5, 1947.
The second X-I during early 1947 static tests of its XLRII rocket engine. All four
chambers have been ignited and maximum thrust is being generated. Noteworthy
is the fact the aircraft is unchocked and tied down only by a single cable.
In order to facilitate X-I loading, a special pit was dug into the Muroc south base ramp.
An incline permitted the aircraft to be rolled backwards into the pit. The carrier aircraft
then was maneuvered into position by tow tractor, and the X-I raised into position.
Moments after release, the second X-I is seen over Muroc at the beginning of a test flight. Engine ignition has yet to take place and the aircraft is free falling without power.
At this point, while stabilizing the aircraft in a slight nose down attitude, the pilot usually was experiencing light negative g's while reaching for the engine ignition switches.
Consequently, chase aircraft were monitoring external events frorT) several differerJI angles. Photo camera was mounted in carrier aircraft bomb bay.
~ - " ' ~ - - : : : - -------_-::.::=:::--=-'"
The second X-I moments before touchdown on the Muroc runway. Normally,
landings took place on the vast expanse of the base's hard-surfaced dry
lake bed. Slight flap deployment visible in this view is noteworthy.
Following its Air Force career, the second X-I, 46·063, was turned over to the NAGA
on September 25, 1947. Painted white over-all and bearing a small NAGA logo
on its vertical fin, it was released for initial flight tests during October.
The X·ls were well known for their propensity to break nose gears. The cause was a
lack of elevator authority at low airspeeds; as the aircraft rotated into a conventional
stall landing, the elevator tended to lose effectiveness prematurely.
The second X-I following transfer to the NAGA. The aircraft was painted white over-all, with conventional insigne visible on the wings and fuselage. The vertical fin carried a
conventional NAGA logo which was black on an orange background. the horizontal stripes were apparently in red. The wing roots were given black walkway
to allow access to nitrogen bottles and the test equipment bay located behind the removable panels on either side of the fuselage center section.
X-I, 46-063, during static powerplant tests at Bell's
Niagara Falls facility. The tests, for acoustical
reasons were conducted inside a hangar.
CONTROL POSITION TRANSMITTERS
FIVE·CHANNEL TELEMETER TRANSMITTER
(TRANSMITS AIRSPEED, ALTITUDE,
NORMAL ACCELERATION, AND
AILERON AND ELEVATOR POSITIONS)
PRESSURE DISTRIBUTION ORIFICES
(COMPLETE INSTALLATION INCLUDES
400 ORIFICES ON WING AND TAIL
WHEEL AND PEDAL FORCE RECORDER
CONTROL BOXES FOR CONTROL FORCE
AND CONTROL POSITION RECORDERS
SIDESLIP ANGLE TRANSMITTER ...J
NACA X-1 Test Equipment
SIXTY·CAPSULE RECORDING MANOMETER
FOR PRESSURE DISTRIBUTION ----,
FOR STRAIN GAUGES ----------,
CONTROL BOX FOR OSCILLOGRAPH
GUNSIGHT CAMERA TO PHOTOGRAPH
INSTRUMENTS ON PILOT'S PANEL
SIDESLIP ANGLE, FUEL PRESSURE, CONTROL
POSITION (RUDDER) RECORDER
[ PEDAL FORCE TRANSMITTERS
AIRSPEED HEAD FOR PILOT'S INSTRUMENTS
RATE OF TURN RECORDER
CONTROL POSITION RECORDER
(STABILIZER, AILERON, AND ELEVATOR)
[ RESEARCH AIR:::S_P_E_E_D_H_E_A_D__=:-:;4--..\._.J/
DYNAMOTOR FOR SIDESLIP ANGLE
TIMER (1/10 SECOND) ---:77=-::'--'
The large X's painted on the side of 46-063 apparently were for photo interpretation purposes. Visible on the upper wing surfaces were what appeared to be a row of small
vortex generators stretching from wingtip to wingtip. On the left wingtip is a vertical surface that might possibly have been a mechanically actuated aerodynamic
exciter. The nose boom mounted pitch and yaw vanes which normally were not seen on the X-Is following initial flight trials.
r,..:. , '-.....'
c-:>: ,. ~
The third, and last, 01 the first-generation X-Is, 46-064, undergoing final assembly at
Bell. Though the fuselage is virtually complete, the wing has yet to be installed.
Noteworthy is the fully-fuhctional XLRII engine which already is in place.
Externally, the third X-I differed only in minor details from its two stablemates. Visible
in this view are the turbopump propellant dump ports on the aft fuselage
and plate peculiar to its more advanced powerplant configuration.
Unpainted, the third X-I undergoes static ground tests of its liquid-oxygen oxidizer
tank and associated jettison systems at Bell following completion. This aircraft was
immediately recognizable by its strapless windscreen and canopy assembly.
The third X-I sat slightly higher on its main landing gear than its stablemates and the
gear appeared slightly less splayed. Forward visibility from the cockpit was modeslly
improved through the elimioation of the anachronistic restraining straps.
In its gleaming white paint, the third X-I was perhaps the most attractive of the
three first-generation aircraft. In this view, the elevator mass balances,
added to offset a tendency toward flutter, are readily visible.
The third X-I 's high-performance turbopump propellant transferral system, seen
undergoing static testing at Bell during early 1951, was considered a significant
improvement over the compressed nitrogen systems found in the first two aircraft.
By the time of the third X-I's availability, Bell had installed a hydraulic lift system to
accommodate loading requirements. This system rapidly replaced the pit used
previously. Similar hydraulic lifts also were installed at Edwards AFB.
The third X-I immediately prior to departing Bell on its delivery flight to Edwards AFB
during April 1951. Large strap-like shackles can be seen holding the aircraft
firmly in place in the B-29 carrier aircraft's modified bomb bay.
The third X-I is seen receiving a load of liquid oxygen and nitrogen prior 10 a static
ground test. Extraordinarily low propellant (oxidizer) temperatures caused
condensation to form on hoses, even in the hot California desert.
Hydraulic lift system installed at Edwards south base permitted the research aircraft
to be towed directly underneath. Carrier then was lowered onto the research aircraft
with the final attachment occurring after it was hoisted into the bomb bay.
Because of cockpit pressurization requirements, the first two X-Is, 46-062 and 46-063, had straps across the windscreen to prevent any possibility of catastrophic blow-out.
The third aircraft, because of improvements in windscreen materials technology and basic design advances, was able to do away with the windscreen straps.
This permitted improved vision for the pilot, a slight reduction in drag, and a modest weight savings.
The third X·I proved to be the shortest-lived of the three first-generation aircraft.
Only one glide flight was completed before it was lost on November 9, 1951.
The cause later was traced to the use of Ulmer leather gaskets.
The fire that followed the explosion destroying the third X-Ion November 9, 1951,
not only totalled the research aircraft, but also its Boeing B-50 carrier aircraft,
46-006. X-I test pilot Joseph Cannon almost lost his life in this accident.
The November 9, 1951 mission had not been planned as a drop flight for the third X-I, but rather as a captive flight to permit rehearsal for a forthcoming first powered flight.
Following return to Edwards AFB, the mated aircraft were moved into the defueling area at the base where off-loading at the lox and water/alcohol was initiated.
An explosion followed shortly afterwards, this leading to an intense fire which quickly destroyed both aircraft.
l e m ~
21, with Herbert Hoover handling the controls for the II
time. A nose landing gear failure occurred on touchdow
however, and it wasn't until December 16, that a secor
NACA mission, the first to be flown with power, \IIi
Additional NACA tests followed throughout the r.
mainder of 1947, these slowly exploring the transon
potential of 46-063. Throughout the spring of 1948, II
speed envelope was expanded, eventually resulting
flights to Mach numbers of just over 0.94. Finally, (
March 10, with Hoover at its controls, the second X·
went supersonic for the first time. A speed of Mach 1.1X
was achieved, this making Hoover the first civilian e ~
to fly faster than sound.
Once sonic velocity was successfully achieved byll
Vandenberg turned over the aircraft to Alexander Wet-
more, Ph.D., then Smithsonian Institution Secretary.
While flight testing of the first X-1 under the auspices
of the Air Force had been conducted at a near feverish
pace, the second X-1 (46-063) also had been conducting
missions at a high rate under the auspices of the NACA
and its program directors, Hartley Soule, Gerald
Truszynski, and Walter Williams. This aircraft officially
had been accepted by the NACA on September 25,1947,
immediately following an Air Force test flight conducted
by Yeager. Its first unpowered glide flight had been com-
pleted on October 11, 1946, at Muroc AFB, with Chalmers
Goodlin at the controls. The first powered flight occurred
on December 9, 1946, again with Goodlin as pilot.
The first NACA-piloted glide flight followed on October
During development, concern arose over the placement of the X-I's horizontal tail surfaces and how such placement could alleviate perceived difficulties relating to the shock
wave being generated by the wing. Many solutions were considered, including, perhaps most importantly, the "butterfly" or "V" tail. Variations to the X·I "V" tail theme
are seen in these three photos. The first and second are front and rear views of the same model, whereas the third shows one with increased dihedral.
Though the initial sweptwing X-I studies were related directly to the preliminary design effort resulting in the Bell X-2, ongoing studies continued to explore more abstract
configurations including the chine-like leading edge extensions seen on the left, and the forward swept wing seen on the right. The latter proved somewhat
premature as it would not reach true feasibility until the late 1970s with the advent of composites and computer analysis of load dynamics.
As full-scale flight test operations with the X·ls began to accelerate at Muroc Air Base, the NACA initiated a follow-on wind-tunnel model program calling for the exploration
of sweptwing attributes in the transonic regime. Accordingly, a quarter-scale transonic X-I tunnel model was modified during mid-1947 at the NACA's Langley facility
to accommodate the basic X-I wing (with suitably modified tips and center section) at various angles of sweepback.
A fourth altitude mission was flown on August 8, this
setting yet another X-1 record. Post flight examination
of recording instrumentation indicated that an altitude of
71,902 ft. had been achieved. This would become the ab-
solute altitude record for the first generation X-1 series.
Further tests using the first X-1 were conducted dur-
ing the fall of 1949 and the spring of 1950. Finally, on
May 12, 1950, with Yeager again in the cockpit, the air-
craft was launched on its 59th and final mission.
On August 19, the first X-1, 46-062, was flown by B-29
to Wright-Patterson AFB (at the time, recently re-named
from Wright Field), and there refurbished for permanent
display in the Smithsonian Institution. Official transfer
ceremonies took place one week later in Boston,
Massachusetts, when Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt
The interim design between the Bell X-I and the later Bell X·2 was the Bell 0-37 (Design #37), seen in wind tunnel
model form.. Essentlally.a compromise configuration utilizing the basic X-I fuselage with swept wings and swept
vertical and honzontal tall surfaces, It proVided Bell With a stepping stone to the totally new X·2.
NACA aircraft, a stability and control program was in-
itiated which, it was hoped, would give a more detailed
view of what was happening to the X-1 as it plowed
through the atmosphere at supersonic velocities. Unfor-
tunately, this program was slowed considerably when on
April 16, NACA pilot Howard Lilly touched down and the
nose gear again collapsed.
Nose gear failures in the first-generation X-1 s would
plague them throughout their flight test lives. The prob-
lem was only partially due to pilot technique, being in ac-
tuality the result of limited elevator control at the aircraft's
normal stall speed. Pilot's tended to discover too late that
they were running out of elevator-thus allowing the main
gear and nose gear to contact the ground almost
simultaneously. When this happened, it was not un-
common to overload the nose gear fork and mount
assembly-with the inevitable result.
The damage caused during Lilly's landing was not
catastrophic, but it was serious. The landing gear, under-
side of the fuselagf> and empennage, and left wingtip re-
quired extensive rebuilding and the aircraft was grounded
for almost six months. It was not until October that it again
was declared f1ightworthy.
On November 1, 1948, with Herbert Hoover again in
the cockpit, the second X-1 completed its first check flight
following the April accident. Later, a new NACA X-1test
pilot, Robert Champine, took over the controls and, on
November 23, completed his first familiarization flight.
Additional flights followed and during early December,
the aircraft was grounded in order to install special in-
strumentation and recording equipment for the NACA-
sponsored stability and control program. It was not flown
again until some five months later.
When it was declared airworthy again, the second X-1,
beginning on May 6, embarked on a series of test flights
that consumed most of the summer and fall of 1949.
Eleven missions were flown successfully, these resulting
in the accumulation of rather substantial transonic and
supersonic data that would serve the aerospace industry
well for many years to come.
The second X-1 again was grounded during early
December 1949 so that recording instrumentation could
be installed. It wasn't until the following May that addi-
tional missions were undertaken.
On May 26,1950, following two flights on May 12 and
May 17, NACA pilot John Griffith piloted the second X-1
to its highest speed ever, Mach 1.20 (792 mph). As it
were, this aircraft was somewhat slower than the first X-1
due in part to its 10% Uc ratio wing. The speed it attained
during the May 26 flight was considered representative
of its maximum performance potential.
Unfortunately, the May 26 flight did not end without in-
cident. Following touchdown, the nose gear collapsed
and significant damage was incurred. Another grounding
now followed, this resulting in no further flight testing until
Following its return to operational status, the second
X·j embarked on a pressure distribution survey flight test
program. Some nine flights were conducted before it was
discovered the fuel tank had begun to rust and that a
major overhaul would be required to correct the problem.
Yet another grounding followed, this one consuming
no less than six months and leading to the installation
of anew fuel tank and new test instrumentation. The air-
craft was flown for the first time following refurbishment
on April 6, 1951, and again on April 20. Two more flights
followed, with a month-long break occurring during June.
The latter allowed time for the installation of a new
An additional nine flights completed the NACA's pro-
gram with the second X-1. Several different pilots
checked out in the aircraft in the interim, and by October,
problems with battery acid leaks and weak nitrogen
spheres had led to another grounding decision. This was
made permanent following further analysis of the spheres
and an attempted replacement by using spheres from the
first X·1-which proved fruitless.
The third X-1 (46-064) unquestionably was the most i11-
aircraft of the original three. From the beginning,
lsuffered numerous setbacks including what at first ap-
peared to be a temporary delay in its delivery date caused
by Reaction Motors' failure to complete and deliver to Bell
a f1ightworthy sample of its steam-driven
XLR11-optimized turbopump. The latter, as explained
was for transferring propellants from the fuel and
oxidizer tanks to the powerplant. Lighter and less
volumetrically invasive than its predecessor nitrogen
system, the turbopump was considered a significant
technological step forward for the X-1 series.
As noted, development of the new turbopump did not
occur as rapidly as originally planned. Additionally, prob-
lems with funding and a lack of sustained Air Force in-
terest eventually caused the third X-1to fall no less than
three years behind its original flight program schedule.
It was delivered eventually to Edwards AFB (as Muroc
AFB was renamed on January 25, 1950) during April
1951, and on July 20, with NACA pilot Joseph Cannon
(by now, retired from Bell) at the controls, it completed
its first glide flight.
The next attempted flight of the third X·1 proved to be
its last. On November 9, 1951, the aircraft had under-
taken a captive flight of approximately one hour. This had
been scheduled as a rehearsal for the forthcoming first
powered flight as well as a test of the rocket propellant
and hydrogen peroxide (the latter, which was carried by
the third aircraft only, and utilized to power the turbo·
pump, was simulated with distilled water) jettisoning
Jettisoning of fuel and liquid oxygen had been aborted
due to loss of X-1 nitrogen source pressure. At 18,000
ft., X-1 pilot Cannon had inadvertently tripped the
hydrogen peroxide and fuel jettison switches while
struggling to fasten the X-1's door. Since at that time the
peroxide tank was pressurized and contained only
nitrogen, this could have been the cause of the loss of
jettison source pressure.
A crew decision now was made to land with the X-1
still in the B·50's bomb bay and still containing most of
its liquid oxygen and fuel complement. The landing was
completed without incident and the still-mated aircraft
were taxied to the propellant loading area to obtain
nitrogen source pressure for the purpose of on-the-
ground jettisoning of the liquid oxygen, and to attempt
to locate any possible leaks in the nitrogen pressure
system. Source pressure was obtained with no difficulty
and the aircraft were towed to the east end of the ramp
and swung around SO that they faced into the wind. A
standard procedure for jettisoning then was begun; i.e.,
the area to the rear of the aircraft was cleared, fire trucks
and firemen were moved into position, and an operator,
in this case, pilot Joseph Cannon, was placed in the X-1 's
Following a visual check, the "all clear" signal was
given and Cannon began the normal liqUid oxygen jet-
tisoning procedure. He pressurized the liquid oxygen tank
pressure regulator dome until the indicator reached its
red line at 52 psi. He then turned his attention to the liquid
oxygen tank pressure guage. This pressure was rising
slowly, and when it had reached approximately 42 psi,
an explosion occurred.
All witnesses later agreed that the first explosion was
a dull thud, or contained explosion, quickly followed by
a "hiss" and a small cloud of white vapor rising from the
X-1 center section. Some witnesses reported small
flames; the majority remembered none.
Within one to five seconds, a sharp, violent explosion
occurred, immediately followed by yellow flame and black
smoke. This was followed closely by numerous other ex-
plosions, varying in intensity from minor to very violent.
Additional fire trucks now arrived at the scene and the
fire was extinguished in approximately 8 minutes. Unfor-
EARLY 0-37 STUDY
tunately, the X-1 was demolished totally and the B-50
center section, except for the wing, was burned away.
At the outset of the explosions and ensuing fire,
everyone was evacuated from the premises and there
were no fatalities. Cannon, who still was inside the B-50
at the time of the initial explosion, was rescued, though
not before receiving serious injuries. Liquid oxygen had
spread everywhere following the explosion, and Cannon,
in an attempt to extricate himself from the B-50 bomb bay,
had had to crawl on his hands and knees through a pool
of the cryogenic liquid in order to escape. Freeze burns
eventually cost him parts of several fingers and left scars
of significant proportions. He would not have made it
without the help of several fellow Bell employees who
happened to be on hand at the time of the explosion.
A lengthy investigation followed the accident. Various
conclusions were reached as to its cause and cure, but
it was not until the demise of the X-1A, nearly four years
later, that the real problem was discovered. As research
later would verify, the problem lay with the aircraft's
Ulmer leather gaskets.
0[1 November 14,1947, exactly one mOr'\th after Chud
Yeager achieved sonic velocities in the first X-1, theA
Force authorized Bell Aircraft Corporation to formall
undertake a study calling for the development of a secon
generation X-1 aircraft that would offer significant pa
formance improvements over its predecessors. Th
resulting design was the Bell Model 58 (assigned theA
Force project designator MX-984), which utilized th
basic wing, horizontal taii surfaces, and powerplant ofth
first generation aircraft, but which had an almost
new fuselage featuring increased capacity fuel tanks,
revised and much improved cockpit and associate
canopy, a low-pressure turbopump powerplant fuel fee
system, and improved airframe and powerplar The)
Following contract initiation on December 11, 1947,
formal contract, W33-038-ac-20062, for four aircraft, w,
consummated on April 2, 1948, and less than a year lale
a full-scale mock-up was ready for inspection. Th'
passed Air Force scrutiny following numerous minor rm.
sions and changes, and by the end of 1950, under tn
direction of project engineer Richard Frost, the firslr
three second generation X-1s (X-1A, 48-1384; X-II
48-1385; X-1 D, 48-1386) approved for construction, tn
X-1D, was nearly complete (a fourth aircraft, the X-II
was cancelled; to have been a propulsion system tel
bed, it is assumed to at one time have been assigm ==
the 48-1386 Air Force serial number). ._-
The X-1 D, the first of the second generation aircra "-
to roll from Bell Aircraft Corporation's Buffalo, New -
plant doors, made its debut at Edwards AFB suspendl
from the bomb bay shackles of EB-50A, 46-006A, durin
July 1951 . On the 24th of that month, with Bell compa!
test pilot Jean Ziegler at the controls, it was launched 01
Rogers Dry Lake on what was to become the only su
cessful flight of its career. The unpowered glide was cor
pleted after a nine-minute descent, but upon landing, II
nose gear failed and the aircraft slid somewhat ungrao
fully to a stop. Repairs took several weeks to compie
and it wasn't until mid-August that a second flight cou
This mission, on August 22, with the X-1 D attachedl
the EB-50A, at first went routinely. However, as the mall
aircraft ascended through 7,000 ft., Lt. Col. Fra'
Everest, the X-1 D's Air Force pilot, noted upon enterir
the cockpit that the nitrogen source pressure indica!
was giving a very low reading. After discussing the prd
lem with Bell engineers aboard the bomber, the decisir
was made to abort the mission and jettison the X-tD
propellants. Shortly after Everest initiated the jettison pi
cess, an explosion rocked the aircraft's aft end. ThisWi
followed immediately by flames visible from the char
aircraft following in close trail underneath the
Everest now hurriedly egressed the X-1 D's cockpit a!
moments later, an engineer onboard the EB-50A, Jat
Ridley, pulled the drop handle which released II
shackies holding the X-1 D in place. Less than a minu
later, the once highly advanced multi-sonic research a
craft lay a twisted pile of wreckage on the desert floc
some two miles west of the south end of Rogers Dry Lai
The X-1 D was followed to Edwards by the similar X·I
which arrived on January 7, 1953, shackled to the san
EB-50A carrier aircraft that had transported the X-10t
its fateful last mission. Just over four weeks later, II
X-1 A, on February 14, with Bell company test pilot Jer
Ziegler at the controls, successfully completed its fil
glide flight. This was followed by a second glide son
six days later, and by a first powered flight, also Yn
Ziegler, on February 21.
The X-1 A originally haa been scheduled for a serH
of stability and control test flights under the auspices
Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories following completir
of Bell's required contractor (Phase I) test flights. 01
to the untimely demise of the third X-1 and the X·II
however, the Cornell program was cancelled and shq
ly afterwards, the Air Force confirmed that the aircrafti
stead would be delivered directly to the NACA.
In the meantime, contractor X-1A flights continul
through April, at which time the aircraft
grounded and returned to Bell's Buffalo plant I
modification. At the same time, an elevator flutter anon
Iy was examined and the aircraft's nitrogen-tube-buna Land
pressurization system was replaced with one consistil fin
of simple spherical containers.
The decision to incorporate the latter was the resull
THE BELL X·1 A, X-1 B, C,
(The Second Generation)
In bare metal, the X-IA is seen at Bell shortly before being delivered to Edwards AFB. The cockpit transparency
remains covered in protective paper to prevent scratching and the wing upper surface has a protective mat in
place to permit access to the center section equipment bay. Vertical fin tip has just been painted.
In order to accommodate powerplant test requirements, the X-I A was loaded aboard a flatbed trailer and moved to
Bell's engine test facility several miles from the main Bell plant. The aircraft sill was painted bright orange
over-all. Interestingly, littfe was done to secure the aircraft from inquisitive eyes.
The second of the second-generation X-Is to be completed, X-lA, 58-1384, was rolled out from Bell's Niagara Falls,
New York plant doors during late 1952. Originally painted bright orange over-all, this scheme was replaced by
bare metal, (standard for all second-generation X-Is), prior to the aircraft's delivery to Edwards AFB.
Prior to completion, the X-IA was check fitted to confirm compatibility with B-29 carrier aircraft. The second-generation
X-Is required significantly different bomb bay fittings, snubbers, and attachment assemblies, and therefore
represented a totally new entity. Noteworthy is the X-I A's unpolished aluminum skin.
The X-IA originally was rolled out in a bright orange over-all scheme. This was to be
short lived as it was concluded erosion and the temperatures involved with
cryogenic propellants would create a constant maintenance headache.
The conventional markings applied to the orange-scheme for the X-I A, including the
national insigne and serial number, were completely standard. Besides being
a maintenance headache, the orange paint also added weight.
Small hatch, visible on top of X-IA dorsal spine, just ahead of aircraft center section, covered forward attachment hook and electrical umbilical. Aircraft is seen at Bell after
removal of orange paint and probably prior to delivery to Edwards AFB. Lox jettison system fairing is visible on ventral spine, just to the rear of the nose landing gear. Small
protrusions visible just aft of ventral spine end are AN/APN-60 antennas. Except for white ventral spine and wing undersurfaces, and black anti-glare panel, aircraft was unpainted.
Mass balances were added to the elevators of the second-generation X-I s in order
to alleviate a flutter concern. Flush exhaust nozzles for the turbopump propellant
system later were modified to incorporate protruding extensions.
~ S . I \ I R FORCE
landing gear tread and related aircraft stance were essentially the same between the
first- and second-generation aircraft. Though narrow, the gear provided excellent
stability after touchdown and pilots rarely noted handling difficulties.
The turbopump exhaust nozzle extensions are readily discernible in this view of the
X-I A. Also visible are the small open hook bay doors on the top of the dorsal
spine. There actually were two sets of doors with one pair for each hook.
During late 1952, the X-lA, 48-1384, is seen being prepared for a practice mating
with its B-29 carrier, 45-21800. Winters in Buffalo, New York, though often
bitter, rarely hampered X-plane flight test operations.
Bell's Niagara Falls facility, during the early I 950s, was remote enough from the main Buffalo population core to
permit static ground testing of the X-lA's powerful four-chamber XLRII rocket engine. Shock balls are
readily visible in the exhaust. Only three of the four chambers are functioning.
The X-IA is seen being maneuvered into position under its B·29 carrier aircraft during Tolerances were minimal in terms of ventral fairing and wingtip clearances due to t
a practice mating session. Noteworthy are the small dollies used to move the X-Is the size of the second-generation X-Is. B-29, 45-21800, warming up for flight, "<
during icy weather conditions. The smaller footprint provided better traction. is seen with the X-IA suspended in its bomb bay.
the loss of Bell X-2, 46-675, which had exploded During the wild ride down, Yeager was thrown about the Returning to Edwards during mid-1955, the X-1Aqu
mysteriously during a mated test hop over Lake Ontario. cockpit and knocked into a state of semi·consciousness. Iy was placed on f1ightworthy status and scheduled
At the time, it was thought the accident had been caused It was not readily apparent he would survive. a series of exploratory missions. The first NA(
by leaking liquid oxygen and its subsequent accidental Once the X-1A had entered the denser atmosphere sponsored flight, which resulted in a speed of Machi
ignition by an electrical spark. In turn part of the leak prob- around 35,000 ft., it stabilized in a subsonic inverted spin. and an altitude of 45,000 ft., took place on July 20, ¥
lem was though1 to have been the result of using the com- Yeager came-to some 6,000 ft. later and within a matter agency pilot Joseph Walker at the controls.
plicated nitrogen-tube-bundle assembly then found in all of seconds, groggily determined his predicament and in- The second NACA flight was undertaken just overl
Bell-designed rocket-propelled research aircraft. Later, itiated standard inverted spin recovery procedures. The weeks later, on August 8. Just prior to launch fron
as noted earlier, the real explosion cause was traced to X-1A rolled upright and shortly afterwards was banking B-29 carrier, however, an internal explosion ruptured
the use of Ulmer leather gaskets. back towards Edwards AFB, some 60 miles distant. liquid oxygen tank, blew off the center section aoo
Following its return to Edwards AFB on October 16, The X-1A, as it was uncovered. through post-flight panels and main landing gear doors (thus causing
1953, the X-1 A was declared flightworthy and almost im- analysis, had experienced a high-speed phenomenon gear to extend), and caused generally massive Inter
mediately moved into preparation for its next mission. The known as roll-coupling at 1,612 mph and an altitude of damage. . .
aircraft resumed flight operations with a powered flight 74,200 ft. The possibility of this happening to aircraft f1y- . Fortunately, no personnel '!"ere Injured, but the
on November 21, 1953, at the hands of Chuck Yeager; ing at high speeds 10ng had been predicted by a number Slon made It Impossible to glide the X-1A to Edwards
another mission was undertaken eleven days later. of aerodynamicists, but Yeager's flight was the first ac- recovery. Addlltonally, the explosion made It hazard:
Though several control system problems now surfaced, tually to encounter it. to attempt to land the B-29 with the X-1A mated beea,
a decision was made by the Air Force to move ahead as Following Yeager's December 12 mission, the Air theX-1A's landing gear extended some 8 in. below
rapidly as safety would allow with plans to fully explore Force declared that no further high-speed flights (above main gear of the B-29. X-1A gear extension was ao
the maximum speed potential of the aircraft. Mach 2) would be undertaken and that the X-1 A now shot, mtrogen actuated and gravity assisted system wi
On December 8, Yeager took the X-1 A out to Mach 1.9 would be used to explore flight at very high altitude. As afforded no prOVISion for manual retraction.
at 60,000 ft. while gingerly exploring the aircraft's stability a result of this, the NACA was asked to postpone its forth- . To complicate matters even further, all attempts to
and control envelope. With confidence increasing rapid- coming accession so that the Air Force could complete tlson the fuel aboard the X-1A failed. The Jettison
Iy in the aircraft's ability to perform as designed, another its proposed high altitude program. had apparently been serrously damaged and therer
Maj. Arthur Murray now was chosen to fly the altitude no way/o Pt
: the highly volatile propellants fromf j
ft f I d d h k d Th t k ff t thl
missions. As it turned out, no less than fourteen flights respec Ive an s.. I .
cra were ue e an c ec e. e a eo wen smoo y proved necessary to accommodate the altitude program On the day of. the explosion, the personne asslg·
and launch of the X-1 and ignition of its XLR11 power- .. . to the X-1A misSion Included B-29 crew members Sta: Ii}
plant proved problem-free, as did the climb to pitch-over requirements, with only four of these being su,ccessful. Butchart (pilot); John McKay (co-pilot); Rex Cook (ff
altitude. After attaining an altitude of 70,000 ft., Yeager m?st Important of the four ,:"as s engineer); Richard Payne (X-1A crew chief); Jack Me .q:
leveled the X-1 A and began to accelerate. In a matter of setting flight of August 26, 1954, In which a maximum (X-1 A launch crew member); Charles Littleton (X
seconds, Mach 2 had been exceeded and the Mach altitude of 90,440 ft. wasachieved.. ThiS was a not launch crew member); Merle Woods (scanner); Riel
meter needle continued to move. bettered by a manned aircraft until Kincheloe s Bell X-2 DeMore (scanner); and Joseph Walker (X-1A pilot).
As the X-1A passed through Mach 2.4, Yeager noticed flight to 126,200 ft. some two years later.. Additionally, three chase aircraft were assigned,
with some concern that the aircraft had begun a gentle . Durrng September 1954, follOWing the completion of consisting of a North American F-86 piloted by Maj. Art
roll to the left. Corrective action in the form of right aileron ItS altitude program, the Air Force turned over the X-1 A Murray; a North American F-100 piloted by Capt. Lc
and mild rudder damping followed, but this resulted in to the NACA. The aircraft then was flown by EB-50A back Schalek, Jr.; and a North American P-51 piloted
an exaggerated roll to the right. Moments later, Yeager to Bell for installation of an ejection seat (a reaction to unknown NACA test pilot Neil Armstrong.
and the X-1A were completely out of control. Though the the aircraft's now readily-acknowledged stability and con- Following normal procedures, pilot Walker had enll
throttle had been cut, violent tumbling followed the in- tro.1 failings at high Mach) and to accomplish several ad- the X-1A cockpit at an altitude of about 8,000 ft. She
itial roll series and continued for no less than 36,000 ft. dltlonal, though minor modifications. afterwards, the canopy was closed and the cockpili
pressurized. Topping-off procedures of the X-1 A's Ik
oxygen system were started when the aircraft reaa
an altitude of about 22,000 ft. During this period, the f.
with Maj. Murray, was flying close to and slightly be
the right wing tip of the B-29. The P-51, with Armslrc
was also flying chase on this side, though somel
At the instant of the explosion, Maj. Murray obser
a white cloud erupting from the lower center sectio
the X-1A. He was momentarily enveloped in this cit S-
and debris struck his aircraft, cracking the canopyr
damaging the wing tip light. When the vapor cleareda il-
Maj. Murray reported "a slight explosion", but I
everything appeared all right otherwise. i
Requesting the B-29 crew to help Walker into the S
Maj. Murray then flew close to the X-1A and obser
that the landing gear doors and access panels
mediately forward of the doors were gone, and that
main landing gear was extended. No smoke was vi·
but Maj. Murray observed a small, dull red fire in the
ward part of the fuselage center section which 1m
about 30 seconds. He also reported that the liquid oX¥,
tank was ruptured, enabling him to see into the tao
The above items were the only external damage vii
to Maj. Murray, but the center section where the dr
Shortfy after its arrival on January 7, 1953, the X-1A, 48-1384, sits on the ramp at
Edwards AFB south base. Markings were minimal and the right wingtip test boom has
yet to be installed. This aircraft would have a highly successful flight test program.
The X-IA became one of the first aircraft ever to experience inertia coupling
phenomenon (sometimes called roll coupling) at high Mach. A speed limit was
placed on the aircraft afterwards, preventing further uncontrollable flights.
By the time it was delivered to Edwards AFB on January 7, 1953, the X-IA had been static tested thoroughly by Bell and consequentfy had been quickly cleared for full-scale
flight test operations. Several world speed and altitude records would result before the aircraft was purposefully jettisoned to destruction on August 8, 1955, following
an internal explosion that forced the main landing gear into the down-and-Iocked position. The latter prevented the carrier aircraft from landing safely.
~ s e
Fully loaded with propellants, the second-generation X-Is proved a heavy cargo for
the venerable B-29 carrier aircraft, particularly at higher altitudes. The X-IA is
seen shortfy before launch. Condensation around lox tank is noteworthy.
Ground clearances, as notedearlier, were minimal wIth the entire X-I family, but
were particularly acute with the second-generation aircraft. The X-I A is seen
following uploading but prior to being filled with propellants.
Chase aircraft remained with the X-Is for as long as possible following launch, and
re-formated with them as early as possible following their return from altitude and
high Mach. A North American F-86D, 50-509, is seen off the left wing of the X-IA.
Jean "Skip" Ziegler, one of Bell's most experienced test pilots, was at the X-lA's controls during the course of its
first flight. He is seen at a later date with the aircraft following landing on the dry lake bed at Edwards AFB.
Ziegler would be killed during a test of the Bell X-2 on May 12, 1953.
Posed photo of Chuck Yeager and Bell founder Larry
Bell in front of the KIA following Yeager's speed
record-setting flight in the aircraft.
Snubbers, visible protruding from the bomb bay and
contacting the upper wing surface and fuselage sides,
prevented lateral oscillations of the aircraft.
Almost at the moment of release, the X-IA is seen descending from the B-29's bomb bay. Engine ignition still is
several seconds away and a small puff of residual lox from the exhaust is visible at the aft end of the aircraft.
Dump tubes from the B-29, preventing fume accumulation in the bomb bay, are easily discerned.
Nearing the end of a high altitude mission, the X-IA is seen in level gliding flight on
its final approach to Edwards AFB. Visible are camera ports in the ventral fairing,
and an externally mounted camera on the nose (below the windscreen).
All three gear invariably touched the landing surface at almost exactly the same time.
Narrow tread of the main gear necessitated good piloting technique. Once on the
ground, speed was bled off gradually via mild use of the main gear brakes.
Missions were logged on the nose of the X-I A along with pilot, crew chief, crew,
inspector, and foreman names. Powered ffights were indicated with exhaust
plumes; unpowered flights had no exhaust plume.
Following completion of its Air Force ffight test program, the X-tA was turned over 10
the NACA during September 1954. The NACA promptly painted it white (leaving natufO
metal the area around the lox tank), and added a NACA logo to the vertical fin.
Bearing its mission record be/ow its right canopy rail, the X-IA sits next to the X-IB on the baked floor of the
Edwards dry lake bed. This photo would become one of the (nost often reproduced of this
dynamic pair, and one of the few to show them together.
The X-IB at Bell's Niagara Falls facility shortly after completion. With a calculated gross weight of 16,816 Ibs.,
it was determined to weigh II pounds more than either the X·IA or X-1D. Otherwise,
it was essentially identical to its stablemate.
Static ground testing of the X- t 's 6,000 lb. tho XLRII-RM-5 rocket engine was undertaken at Bell shortly before
delivery to the Air Force. Shock balls can be seen in the exhaust efflux. Visible in the background
are North American F-5IDs of the New York Air National Guard.
The X-I B, lacking its empennage section and vertical and horizontal tail surfaces, is seen nearing final assembly at
Bell during early 1954. Forever overshadowed by the X-lA's accomplishments, the X-IB eventually
would draw consolation from being the only second-generaton X-I to survive.
1. Blowing-off of the upper main gear doors with the con-
sequent lowering of the gear to the down-and-Iocked posi-
tion. The gear-up locks were attached to the doors,
therefore the lowering of the gear could have been by
gravity aided by the force of the explosion.
2. Blowing-off of the non-structural fuselage panels ad-
jacent to and forward of the gear doors. It was later
calculated that a pressure of about 20 psi would have
been required to blowoff these panels and the gear doors.
The desert area where these doors presumably would
have landed was searched by helicopter, but the doors
were never found.
3. Rupturing of the dorsal fin cover and tearing open
a bolted seam in the dorsal fin cover. The dorsal fin was
sealed from the tail section because of fire hazards, but
there were several sizable openings from the fin area into
the center section of the fuselage whereby the force of
an explosion in the center section could pass into the dor-
4. Rupturing of the liquid oxygen tank. The escort pilots
could see that the fiberglas insulation used to cover the
liquid oxygen tank rear bulkhead had been pushed back
and the bare tank metal exposed. Maj. Murray thought
he was looking into the inside of the tank. Further
evidence of this rupturing was the fact that the tank was
emptied of liquid oxygen within afew seconds, since after
the initial blast of vapor cleared away, there was no further
had been blown off was filled with debris indicating con-
siderable internal damage. The scanners in the rear com-
partment of the B-29 noted that the rear portion of the
X·1A dorsal fairing was split just forward of the sealed
firewall separating the engine and turbopump compart-
ment from the forward part of the dorsal fin. The X-1A
also appeared to have dropped a few inches so that the
drag braces which fit into each wing from the B-29 were
cleared. No other damage was visible.
Moments after the explosion, activity inside the B-29
went into high gear. The bomb bay had immediately filled
with white vapor which, just as quickly, had disappeared.
X·1A pilot Walker, who was by this time already belted
into the research aircraft's cockpit, immediately noted
Ihat his radio was inoperative and the instrument power
and ready-to-drop lights on the X-1 A instrument panel
were out. He also noted that the liquid oxygen tank
pressure was zero and the nitrogen source pressure was
falling rapidly. He shut off all electrical equipment and
depressurized the cockpit preparatory to opening the
The X-1A launch crew members assisted Walker into
the B-29 crew compartment. No smoke or flames were
observed by any member of the B-29 crew during this
time. A small quantity of vapor, possibly liquid oxygen,
was seen rising around the electrical plugs located in the
dorsal fin above the X-1 A center section.
The B-29 pilots had started a descent immediately
following the explosion, and continued to descend to
11,000 ft. At this time, Richard Payne, the X-1A crew
chief, entered the bomb bay and examined the X-1A's
cockpit. He noted that all the major nitrogen, liquid
oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, and water/alcohol tank
pressures were at zero. He also noted that the landing
gear handle was still in the up position. He attempted to
jettison the remaining fuel and peroxide using the small
emergency nitrogen supply to open the jettison valve.
When he did so, the pressure dropped from 1,200 psi to
about 500 psi in the normal manner, but Maj. Murray, in
the chase plane, observed only a very small flow. Even
Ihis stopped after a short while.
When it was determined that the fuel and peroxide
could not be jettisoned, and that the X-1 A main landing
gear could not be retracted, communication with the
NACA ground station was established and it was decided
to jettison the X-1 A. Furthermore, there were indications
of leaking and decomposing hydrogen peroxide.
The X-1A was therefore dropped from about 6,000 ft.
and crashed 3/4 mi. south and a little east of PB-3
(Practice Bombing Range 3), on the Edwards AFB bomb-
ing range. The time was 14:15 PDT.
The B-29 crew, Maj. Murray, and Armstrong observed
the X·1 A enter a tail-down flat spin and crash and explode
in the desert.
AUSAF fire truck sped to the scene of the crash and
extinguished a small brush fire that followed. Soon 'after-
wards, NACA and USAF personnel arrived to examine
and photograph the remains. The following afternoon a
USAF crew moved the wreckage by truck to the NACA
High Speed Flight Station hanger for inspection and
The X-1A was a total loss, primarily as a result of hit-
ling the California desert at over a hundred miles per
hour. Thorough analysis of the wreckage revealed,
however, that the following damage was a result of the
initial explosion rather than ground impact:
The X-I a, before being turned over to the NAGA, served primarily to familiarize new
experimental aircralt pilots with the idiosyncrasies 01 rocket-powered aircralt.
A total 01 seven familiarization /lights were flown.
As originally conceived, the X-I a was to have been an armament systems testbed.
Later, this task was assigned the X-I G (originally to have been a propulsion system
testbed), and as such; was stillborne belore the hardware could be completed.
Damage to the B-29 was minimal. In fact, the
damage of any note was to the drag braces. The force
of the explosion was sufficient to bend the
diameter pins that extended into the X-1A wing and to
shear most of the 1/4-in. bolts of the forward
both the right and left braces on the B-29. Most of the
remaining bolts were partially sheared. Calculations
showed a total force of from 25,000 to 40,000 Ibs. was
required to shear the bolts. The momentum force of the
liquid oxygen leaving the tank through a completely
tured rear bulkhead would have amounted to more than
The propellants carried by all the X-Is consisted of liquid oxygen and a mixture The x-Ia completing a mission initiates a base leg turn following its down wind
of specially denatured alcohol (Specification MIL-A-6091) and water, having leg over the runway at Edwards AFa. Recent rains have yet to dry from
a specific gravity of .860 + or - .020 at 15.6°G (60°F). the lake bed as the large pond beneath the aircraft testifies.
;---------------------------.. j; evidence of oxygen coming from the tank and the frost
which was normally present on the outside of the fuselage
at the tank location, immediately began to melt. Also the
flanged sleeve and the doubler plate, which conducted
the liquid oxygen through the door, were not found in the
wreckage. It was possible they were blown out of the air-
craft at the time of the main explosion.
5. Loss of nitrogen pressure. Nitrogen source pressure
lines were located immediately behind the liquid oxygen
tank and could have been ruptured simultaneously with
the liquid oxygen tank or the pressure could have been
bled off through the liquid oxygen tank. The pressuriz-
ing valves on the fuel and hydrogen peroxide tanks vented
the tanks to the atmosphere when the source pressure
dropped to zero. This depressurization effectively
prevented jettisoning most of the contents of the two tanks
by gravity because of the level of the jettison lines and
the internal baffles in the fuel tank. The emergency jet-
tison system merely provided a pneumatic means for
opening the jettison valve in the event of an electrical
failure and was not designed to overcome a loss of source
6. Loss of electrical communication and electrical
power. The radio transmitter and receiver were located
adjacent to the rear bulkhead of the liquid oxygen tank
and were subject to damage if this bulkhead ruptured.
There was sufficient electrical wiring in the center
fuselage section to cause the blowing of most of the elec-
trical circuit breakers if an explosion occurred in that area.
7. Dropping of the X-1A away from the drag braces.
Normally, braces extended from the 6-29 with pads
resting on the wing of the X-1 A and pins projected from
these pads into holes in the upper surface of the X-1 A
wing to absorb most of the drag forces. After the explo-
sion, observers reported several inches clearance be-
tween the pads and the wing surface on both sides of the
X-1 A aircraft. The X-l A attached to the bomb shackle of
the 6-29 by means of two rods extending from the X-1A
wing up through the fuselage. Each rod was in two parts
connected by a hydraulic snubber and the two snubbers
were connected by a hydraulic line to equalize the
pressure on the forward and rearward bomb shackle
hooks. If the hydraulic lines were broken, the X-1A air-
craft would drop about 2 in. with respect to the 6-29.
Presumably, this is what happened.
NAGA pilots flew the X-I a during all of its final test flight series. The aircraft is seen shortly after being transported
back to Edwards AFa following modification at Langley. Distinctive external canopy hinges are visible
just aft of the canopy transparency. The NAGA logo on the vertical fin is noteworthy.
Following completion of its Air Force mission objectives, the x-Ia was turned over to the NAGA. Dudng mid-December
1954, it was flown by carrier aircraft to the NAGA's Langley facility and there, over a period of eight months,
modified to include an ejection seat, dedicated NAGA test instrumentation, and a hinged canopy.
100,000 Ibs. The exact force would depend on the degree
of rupturing that actually occurred.
Damage to Maj. Murray's F-86 chase aircraft (sin
,2·5528) consisted of a cracked left-hand windshield and
adamaged left-hand wing-tip light assembly. Cost of
repairs amounted to $212.20, including parts and labor.
Close examination of the X-1A's twisted and burned
parts quickly led examiners to the conclusion that
something out of the ordinary had caused the destruc-
tiveexplosion. Wendell Moore, a Bell engineer involved
in the post-accident investigation decided to do some ex-
perimenting on his own. On August 18, some ten days
alter the X-1A was lost, he made the following notation
mhis engineering diary: "Exploded Ulmer feather in lox
with small hammer! This apparently answers many
unknowns concerning the X-1D, X-1 #3 , and X-2 ac-
cidents, as Ulmer leather lox tank gaskets were common
to al! four aircraft including the aft lox tank vent strut on
the X·2 which was known to be banging and vibrating in
mght prior to the explosion over Lake Ontario. The only
~ i n g now remaining is to find the source of shock in the
"D", X-1 #3, and the "A"-called Dick Smith tonight and
informed him of the results."
Based on the results of Moore's experiment, the Air
Force and the NACA began experiments of their own.
What fo!lows is the final accident report for the X-1 A, and
~ s inevitable conclusion:
"Liquid oxygen will unite chemically with explosive
violence with most organic substances, but such detona-
tions generally require a triggering impact. The only
known organic substance in contact with the liquid oxygen
in the X-1A aircraft would be the Ulmer leather gaskets
used to seal the doors in two of the inner bulkheads and
the rear bulkhead. In the course of removing the access
door of the rear bulkhead in the liquid oxygen tank of the
X-I Baircraft to examine it for welding defects and signs
of fatigue cracks in the material, a considerable amount
of combustible oily substance was found within the tank
and within the liquid oxygen SUppllline from the tank to
the oxygen compartment. A chemicai anaiysis of this
substance and of the leather gasket material from the
X-IB aircraft was made by the Edwards AFB Chemical
Laboratory and aiso by the Truesdail Laboratory in Los
Angeles. Additionai tests were made by the Edwards AFB
Chemical Laboratory on gasket material from the X-1A
aircraft, the X-2 #1 aircraft, and the stock materials. The
results of the analysis of these materials are presented
in the following:
1. Ulmer leather consists of leather impregnated with
an approximately 50/50 mixture of tricresyl phosphate and
carnauba wax. About 1.04 Ibs. of this mixture is used to
impregnate 1 lb. of untreated leather.
2. The liquid found in the X-I B tank was principally
3. Tricresyl phosphate was present in the gasket
material from the X-IA wreckage, as well as in the gasket
material removed from the X-I Band X-2 #1 aircraft.
Assuming the gaskets in the liquid oxygen tank of the
X-1Awere the same as the stock material obtained from
Bell Aircraft Corporation, then approximately 1.75Ibs. of
the leather was used to seal the tank, and this amount
of leather would have contained approximately 0.45 Ibs.
(almost a cupful) of tricresyl phosphate.
Experiments showed that heating samples of the
leather to about 200
F. would cause the mixture of
tricresyl phosphate and carnauba wax to run out of the
leather, and when collected and cooled, to solidify. in ex-
periments the leather was compressed between flanges
and allowed to stand at room temperature overnight. The
tricresyl phosphate separated from the leather and the
wax in appreciable quantity. Thus, the liquid present in
the X-1 Band X-2 aircraft can be explained.
Concerning using the leather in liquid oxygen service,
Mr. George Patch, Assistant to the Vice President in
charge of distribution at the Linde Products Company,
was consulted. He stated that Ulmer leather could be
used for gaseous oxygen at room temperature and
moderate pressures, and is used by the Linde Air
Products company for pump and valve packing. However,
he further stated that in contact with liquid oxygen, a com-
paratively low impact, 40 to 50 foot-pounds, with a half-
inch diameter hammer, can detonate the Ulmer leather.
This is a result of laboratory tests which Linde conducted
approximately 4 to 5 years ago. Mr. Patch further stated
that, as a result of these tests, his company would not
recommend using Ulmer leather for liquid oxygen ser-
As point of interest, it should be mentioned that in Air
Force tests, "It was also demonstrated that frozen drops
of pure tricresyl phosphate would detonate when placed
alone on an anvil and struck with a weight".
Based on the results of the investigation into the cause
of the X-1A explosion, all Ulmer leather gaskets were
removed from the remaining rocket propelled aircraft still
in the Air Force inventory. Affected were the X-1 B, the
X-2 #1, and the X-1 E. No further catastrophic explosions
were recorded among these aircraft.
Thus, at long last, was discovered the cause of the ex-
plosions that had destroyed the X-1 #3, the X-1D, and
the X-2 #1.
The third and final member of the second generation
X-1 family, the X-1B (48-1385), arrived at Edwards on
June 20,1954. By this time, the X-1A already had demon-
strated the type's maximum speed and altitude capa-
bilities and it therefore was decided by Air Force program
directors to use the X-1 B primarily for pilot familiariza-
tion flights. Following this, it was to be turned over to the
The first X-1 B glide flight (it originally was scheduled
to be a powered flight-but became a glide flight follow-
ing a fuel system turbopump malfunction) was completed
with Lt. Col. Jack Ridley in the cockpit on September 24,
1954. This was followed by a second glide flight on
October 6 and a first powered flight with Maj. Arthur Mur-
ray at the controls, on October 8. The first of the sched-
uled familiarization flights took place on October 13. Five
additional familiarization flights took place during the
following six weeks, these ending with two flights by the
scheduled pilot of the forthcoming Bell X-2, Lt. Col. Frank
On December 3, 1954, the Air Force turned over the
X-1 B to the NACA. Shortly afterwards, it was loaded
aboard its B-29 carrier aircraft (the original carrier aircraft
scheduled for X-1 B launch duties, a B-50, had been lost
with the third X-1) and flown to NACA's Langley, Virginia
facility for the installation of dedicated NACA test
The Langley stay lasted almost eight months and it was
not until August 1, 1955, that the X-1 B was returned to
Edwards. Renewed flight testing of the aircraft with an
initial hop to verify the X-1 B's flightworthiness fol!owing
The original second-generation full-scale mock-up served as the basis for the X-I BIG
armament systems testbed nose section mock-up. Important element in study was
flooring in nose compartment and versatility of mounting options.
Nose section could be separated from rest of mock-up, which was essentially conven-
tional. As wing and vertical and horizontal taif surfaces were basically those of the first-
generation aircraft, they were not included in second-generation mock·up study.
The X-ID, because it was the first of the second-generation aircraft completed, was subject to intense scrutiny when it came time to test mate it with the B-29 carrier aircraft.
As it were, the B-29's bomb bay dimensions had played a critical role in the design of the second-generation aircraft as the dimension between the B-29's fore
and afr pressure bulkheads effectively dictated their over-all length and vertical fin height. '
The basic idea leading to the decision to take the first-generaton X-I fuselage design and scratch it in order to improve performance came from Bell project engineer Richard
Frost. The stretch permitted greater propellant capacity and consequently, greatly increased engine operating times, With power available over a longer period, higher speeds and
altitudes became possible. Additionally, the new design permitted a more conventional cockpit and canopy configuration which improved emergency egress survivability.
r e ~
c o r ~
p r o ~
s e n ~
Prior to completion, the X-ID was subject to several propellant tank pressurization
tests to verify tank integrity. Visible in this view is the routing of the lox plumbing
through the dorsal fairing back to the turbopump compartment.
The X-1D nears final assembfy at Bell during early 1951. Though sequentially the
last in designation, it was to be the first of the second-generation X-Is to
be completed. During July it would be delivered to Edwards AFB.
initial hop to verify the X-1B's f1ightworthiness following
modification got underway on August 14. NACA test pilot
John McKay was in the cockpit on this flight and would
remain the X-1 B's assigned pilot for the following twelve
missions. Eventually, he would pass the reins on to NACA
test pilot Neil Armstrong. Armstrong would fly the last four
X·1B missions and would have the honor of making the
last landing ever in a second generation X-1 aircraft.
Most of the NACA X-1 B flights up to this point had been
conducted for purposes of aerodynamic heating
research. The instrumentation installed at Langley had
consisted of thermal sensors and associated recorders,
and the several flights flown from August 1956 to July
1957, had been primarily for purposes of accumulating
data in this segment of the flight envelope. Due to the
instability problems encountered by the X-1 A, flights to
speeds of Mach 2 or greater were prohibited. However,
on several occasions speeds of Mach 1.8 or better were
The last three X-1 B missions were flown with extended
wingtips and a rUdimentary hydrogen peroxide-fueled
reaction control system in place. The latter never actual-
ly was used in exo-atmospheric flight, but the technology
base generated by its development and preliminary
testing proved of great value in designing a similar system
for the forthcoming North American X-15.
Following the completion of the X-1B's 17th NACA
flight, a decision was made to temporarily ground the air-
craft in order to install a small set of ventral fins to im-
prove directional siability at high speeds and altitudes,
and to equip it with a new XLR11 powerplant. Unfor-
tunately, during an inspection conducted while the
grounding was in effect, fatigue cracks were discovered
in the X-1 B's liquid oxygen tank. An attempt to repair
with welds failed, and d4ring June 1958, a deci·
sion was made to cancel the remainder of the X-1B's
flight test program. Fo!lowing this, the reaction control
system was removed and installed in an Air Force
Lockheed NF-104A and some six months later, on
January 27,1959, the X-1 B was turned over permanent-
ly to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB,
Ohio, for preservation and public display.
The unbuilt X-1 C was to have served as a supersonic
propulsion syst(lm testbed exploring the performance in-
creases provided through the use of improved turbopump
and combustion chamber designs. As there was no full-
scale aircra,ft available to accommodate this requirement
atthe time of the second generation X-1 program's birth,
il was proposed that one .of the four second generation
X·ls be optimized for a propulsion system test program.
Parallelling this was a decision to utilize the X-1 B for
armament systems testing in a: supersonic environment.
Various weapon types were plann(ld for testing, and it
is known from photographs of the mock-up and available
qocumentation, that many different types of machine gun
cannon armament were to have been mounted in the
nose. The X-1 B as an armament testbed would have in-
corporated a number of modifications not seen on any
of its sister ships, the most notable being large, vertical
dorsai and ventral yaw-stability surfaces on the tops and
botioms of each wing, and a retractable ventral fin
underneath the fuselage.
The concurrent and rapid development of operational
fighters such as the North American F-1 00 and Lockheed
F·l04, with sustained supersonic flight capabilities, even-
tually negated the need for the armed X-1 B, and the pro-
gram was cancelled. Some sources later stated the X-1 C
was the aforementioned armament systems testbed, but
recently located records now verify the X-1 B to have been
the intended armed version.
At least one study conducted by Bell refers to a recon-
naissance capability for the aircraft. Apparently, it was
proposed at one time to carry an "RX-1" to a target area,
launch it, and later retrieve it following its intelligence
gathering pass over the target. Little information has sur-
laced concerning the aircraft configuration, its optical
sensors, or the proposed means of retrieval.
THE BELL X·1 E:
The X-1 E was born as much out of desperation as out
oflegitlmate need. During early 1951, the second X-1 still
was flying for the NACA. The Air Force, at this point, was
expecting the new X-1 0 (48-1386) to arrive at any time,
and accordingly, had retired the first X-1 (46-062) to the
Smithsonian Institution. The NACA also was expecting
10 receive a new aircraft, the third X-1 (46-064), with its
new turbopump and increased fuel capacity. The arrival
of this aircraft was expected to allow the NACA to retire
the second X-1 (46-063).
The X-10 being examined during ground testing of the propulsion system. The center section bay panels were
hinged to open vertically in order to provide access to test instrumentation and a nitrogen tank. Electrical
connection, located between open panels, was dorsally mounted for carrier aircraft compatibility.
Propellants were loaded into the X-1 s at a special Edwards AFB site. Large water/alcohol, nitrogen, and lox tanks
accommodated all daily needs. Propellant uploading could be accomplished with the aircraft or
unmated. Off-loading usually was achieved either by running the "%!l
The second-generation X-1 s, like their first-generation stablemates, periodically suffered from nose gear failures
follOWing touchdown. The X-tO is seen on the dry lake bed at Edwards AFB following its first, and only,
successful flight (ul1powered) on July 24, 1951. Jean "Skip" Ziegler was the pilot.
The X-10 was destroyed lollowing a near catastrophic inflight explosion while still attached to its carrier aircraft.
Because the explosion forced the X-10's main landing gear into the down-and-Iocked position, and because
the landing gear hung some 8 in. below the carrier aircraft's main gear, the crew was forced to jettison it.
The X-IE at Edwards AFB during late 1956. The Douglas D-558-II-style canopy and windscreen are readily apparent. This configura1ion provided proper clearances and
mechanics for the installation of a rudimentary rocket-propelled ejection seat. The NASA had elected to install the ejection seat out of considera1ion for the pilot's
safety. Prior to this, egressing any of the first-genera1ion X-Is required the pilot to remove the side door and fall out-directly in front of the right wing.
With its changes, the X-IE was somewhat more appealing, aesthetically, than its stablemates. Both the wing and horizontal tail surfaces incorporated the extremely thin
4% thicknesslchord ratio airfoil. This was, at the time, the thinnest airfoil section ever flown on a manned, supersonic aircraft; and in terms of technology, a major
achievement in structural design. Flap and aileron actuating mechanisms set new standards in cross-sec1ional area and mechanical assemblies.
When empty of propellants, the X-I E, and in fact, all aircraft in the X-I family, had a very neutral center of gravity. The X-I E, however, was the only one to have a true tail skid to
protect the empennage from over-rotation during landing. As can be seen in this view, there was little room for error as the aircraft pitch angle was extremely limited during flare.
Only two pilots, Joseph Walker and John McKay, both with the NACAINASA, ever were to fly the X-IE during the course of its 26 flight program at Edwards AFB.
The X-IE (seen statically displayed during a 1957 airshow at Edwards AFB), on November 6, 1958, became the last X-I, of either generation, to fly when NASA test pilot
Joseph Walker landed the aircraft at Edwards AFB following its final research mission. Throughout its flight test program, the X-I E's ailerons, rudder, and elevators
remained unpainted. And when ventral fins were added during mid-1958, they a/so were left unpainted.
All of these plans fell by the wayside when the X-1D
ind third X-1 were destroyed in accidents before their
respective flight test programs could be consummated.
!ocompound the NACA's problems, during 1951 it was
lscovered that the high-pressure nitrogen spheres in the
1maining second X-1 were prone to explode after 700
b800 cycles (one fill-up and emptying was considered
I cycle). In the hope of correcting this, three nitrogen
\1ieres were removed from the first X-1 which already
ras residing in the Smithsonian Institution. Two of these
in tests after a few hundred cycles.
There now were no flyable X-1 s. A hurried decision to
:ssure the NACA's continued participation in high-speed
thus gave birth to a program to modify the
X-1 (46-063) into what was effectively a new air-
As part of the project, it would be equipped with
Ilurbine pump powerplant fuel system similar to that in
nenever-tested third X-1. Additionally, a new wing, with
mincredibly thin 4% thickness/chord ratio, would replace
.Ie original 8% wing.
In ils original configuration, and still suffering from the
torementioned nitrogen sphere problem, the second X-1
liS retired from the NACA high-speed flight stable follow-
'gits 54th and last NACA mission on October 23, 1951.
Air Force, in collaboration with the NACA, in the
'eantime, had begun research into the use of very thin
·iI thickness/chord ratio airfoils and had concluded that
improved performance potential of these experimen-
i surfaces merited full-scale testing.
Concommitantly, the NACA also had been conducting
:search associated with rocket powerplant im-
'Iovements. During 1951, work had begun on the
lvelopment of a new low-pressure engine turbopump
,Iii that, it was hoped, would replace the somewhat
The X-I E's ejection seat forced NACAINASA and Belf engineers to incorporate a more conventional windscreen and
canopy. Interestingly, the latter were built as a single, integral unit removable for pilot ingress and egress. The
X-IE was nicknamed "Little Joe" and the moniker was painted on both sides of the forward fuselage.
Loading lox into "Little Joe" at Edwards. Barely visible in the cloud of lox surrounding the aft end of the aircraft are the combustion chambers of the XLRII, which appear to
be equipped with expansion nozzles. The latter improved exhaust efficiency and thus provided an incremental increase in thrust. This modification, coupled with the
use of a new fuel (Hidyne or V-deta) in place of the standard water/alcohol mixture, was expected to give the aircraft near Mach 3 capability.
Like its the X-IE periodically was ground tested to check propulsion and miscellaneous aircraft sub-systems. Such tests involved a ground tie-down and numerous
partial- and full-throttle static engine runs, when necessary. Safety precautions, during these relatively early days of high-performance rocket-propelled research
aircraft operations, were minimal. Noteworthy is the lack of hearing protection utilized by attendant ground personnel during this static engine run.
Apparently following the June 10, 1958 landing accident that incurred only minor damage, the X-IE is seen being raised from the Edwards dry lake bed surface for transport
back to the NACNNASA hangar for repairs. Damage to the ventral fuselage fairing appears to indicate a landing gear failure. The X-I E was suspended by its twin dorsal
hook apparatus that normally served to support the aircraft when mounted in the bomb bay of its carrier aircraft. The retrieval vehicle is nicknamed "Big Bertha ".
dangerous, space consuming, and heavy, high-pressure
nitrogen pressurization systems then in use.
In order to accommodate concurrently two major
research objectives, the NACA, following contract sign-
ing during April 1952, began exploring the possibility of
modifying the second X-1 into a full-scale thin wing and
turbopump-engine testbed. NACA engineers quickly con-
cluded that the modification effort was worthwhile and
shortly afterwards, began revamping 46-063.
During March 1954, the "new" X-1 officially was
designated X-1 E, and by mid-1955, most of the modifica-
tion work, which included a new cockpit and canopy con-
figuration (required to accommodate the NACA-specified
ejection seat) in addition to the new wing, had been com-
pleted at the NACA facility at Edwards AFB. Several
months were spent ground checking the aircraft and by
late November, it had been cleared for flight test.
It is germane at this point to mention that development
of the X-1 E's special wing was a rather significant under-
taking. Stanley Aviation Corporation, founded by ex-Bell
Vice President of Engineering Robert Stanley (and ably
essisted by another ex-Bell chief engineer, Richard
Frost), had won the NACAIAir Force contract to build the
new high-technology wing. With a span of 22.79 ft., a root
chord of 7.62 ft., and a tip chord of 2.81 ft., it used a
modified NACA 64A-004 symmetrical airfoil section which
gave a maximum thickness at the root of 3-3/8 in.
Aeroelasticity, which was -the wing's flexibility factor in
adynamic load situation, was the item of most concern
due to the thinness of the airfoil section and the
associated severe limitations placed on structure. Ac-
cordingly, maximum torsional stiffness was acquired by
using multiple rectangular cross-section spars and
tapered milled wing skins. The latter literally were bolted
to the spars and rips. Complicating matters was the
NACA requirement that the wing be equipped with over
200 orifices for pressure distribution studies and 343
gauges for structural loading and aerodynamic heating
FolloWing an abortive first launch attempt on December
3,1955, the first X-1E glide flight, with NACA test pilot
Joseph Walker in the cockpit, was completed successful-
iyon December 15. Walker would remain the X-1E's pilot
lor the following twenty missions.
The X-1 E now explored its performance envelope in
a steady train of test flights. On June 7, 1956, the airplane
reached a speed of Mach 1.55. This was the first X-1 E
flight over 1,000 mph (which also was the aircraft's first
supersonic flight since modification). Additional flights
culminated in the first X-1E Mach 2 flight on August 31,
1956, and a maximum speed flight of Mach 2.24 (approx-
imately 1,480 mph) on October 8, 1957.
Following the installation of twin ventral fins during
December 1957 (to improve directional stability), the X-1 E
was again declared flightworthy. On May 14, 1958, it suc-
cessfully completed its eighteenth mission.
A minor landing accident following a flight on June 10,
1958, gave NACA engineers a chance to incorporate a
performance improving engine modification (allowing
engine combustion chamber pressures to be increased
from 250 psi to 300 psi). This, coupled with an experimen-
tal and significantly more powerful propellant known as
Hidyne or U-deta (60% unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine
and 40% diethylene triamine), was expected to give the
X-1 E near-Mach 3 speed potential.
On September 17, Walker made his last X-1 flight and
two days later turned over the X-1 E's contois to NACA
test pilot John McKay. Mckay successfully completed the
remaining four X-1 E flights, at which time, the aircraft
again was grounded, this time for replacement of the pilot
emergency egress system.
During this grounding, X-ray-inspections of the fuel and
oxidizer tanks were undertaken. When the negatives
were returned from the lab, they revealed a serious crack
in the fuel tank. This, coupled with the imminent arrival
of the new North American X-15, resulted in a final NACA
decision to terminate X-1 E flight test work.
THE BELL X·1
(The First Generation):
The three original X-1 s were of conventional aluminum
stressed skin construction but built to extremely high
structural standards. They were, in fact, stressed to plus
or minus 18 g's-which was about half again the known
g capability of any other aircraft then being flown.
The X-1s had nitrogen-actuated and gravity assisted
retractable tricycle landing gear. Gear limit speed was
300 mph. The main wheel tires were 24 x 7.7 in.; and
the nose wheel tire was 16 x 5.8 x 8.5 in. The wheels
were of magnesium allby. The nose wheel, though equip-
ped with a hydraulic shimmy damper, was not steerable
but there was differential disc braking available on the
main gear. Nose gear swivei angle was 40°to either side
of the aircraft centerline. The wheel base was 100.7 in.
and the tread was 51 in.
The first and third X-1s were built with a NACA 65-108
airfoil wing section of 8% thickness/chord ratio. The
second X-1 was built with a NACA 65-11 0 airfoil wing sec-
tion of 10% thickness (the 8% wing was significantly
more difficult to manufacture than the 10%; the 8% wing,
due to structural requirements, had wing skins that
tapered from 1/2-in. thickness at the root to approximately
1/32-in. at the tip). The taper ratio for both wing types was
2:1. Root chord length was 74.2 in. and tip chord length
was 37.1 in. Incidence atthe root was + 2-1/2°; incidence
at the tip was + 1° 30 minutes. Dihedral was 0° and
leading edge sweepback was 5° 2 minutes and 52
seconds. The aspect ratio was 6.03.
The controls and control surfaces were not boosted,
but the horizontal stabilizer (26 sq. ft. in area) could be
electrically trimmed (5° up to 10° down from neutral).
For the first time in a transonic-capable aircraft, an all-
moving stabilizer was utilized. The latter was in fact a
somewhat unconventional version of this now-standard
device as in the X-1 the elevators (and rudder) could be
locked in position so that trim control served as total vehi-
cle pitch control.
This system had been developed and flown on a Cur-
tiss XP-42 at NACA Langley during the 1943/1945 period.
During the X-1 design stage, the NACA insisted that an
all-moving horizontal tail surface be included in the air-
craft's control surface complement. The NACA believed
this would provide the needed trim ability for the piiot.
The X-1, of course, later proved the viability of this con-
cept. Shortly afterwards, production military aircraft
The X-I E flew its finat nine missions with ventral fins attached to its empennage section. Additionalty, an over-rotation skid was mounted at the aft end of the fusetage ventral
fairing. The ventral fins increased the aircraft's vertical surface area and thus helped counter an inherent instability problem that had affected alt members of the X-I family
at high Mach-inertia coupling. Unfortunately, the X-I E's rarely seen combustion chamber expansion nozzles have been covered for protection in this view.
capable of transonic performance began emerging from
the various aircraft production facilities with all-moving
horizontal stabilators as standard equipment.
The control surfaces were conventional, consisting of
wing ailerons (6.3 sq. ft. in area; angular movements of
12° up and 12° down), and elevators (5.2 sq. ft. each
in area; angular movements of 15° up and 10° down).
The wing also had 11.6 sq. ft. of flap area (angular deflec-
tion upon deployment, 60°). A mechanically activated
spoiler was installed on the upper surface of each wing
and was found to be very effective as a landing aid.
However, during the course of the flight test program,
most pilots elected to utilize only the more conventional
flaps-which proved sufficient for landing. The spoilers
eventually were sealed over.
The aircraft was equipped with a conventional vertical
tail and rudder. The vertical tail total effective area was
25.6 sq. ft., and the rudder area was 5.2 sq. ft. (with an
angular movement of 15° left or right).
The cockpit was pressurized with a maximum pressure
differential of 3 Ibs.lsq. in. Additionally, the pilot was pro-
vided with a personalized oxygen system (this unit under-
went several changes during the course of the X-l 's flight
test program). A control yoke for aileron and elevator ac-
tuation was provided along with conventional rudder
The pilot was not furnished an ejection seat (though
studies for an ejection seat were undertaken, it was con-
cluded that it would be of little use at high speeds and
that the weight penalty would be too severe). In an
emergency, he was expected to remove a pin from the
hinged control column and displace it, remove the door
panel located on the right side of the cockpit, and manual-
ly bailout. He was equipped with a conventional back-
pack type parachute which was expected to suffice for
emergency egress purposes.
The windshield was a doubie glazed surface con-
figured to minimize condensation formation. The exter-
nal surface was constructed of laminated glass panes,
and the internal surface was of methyl methacrylate.
Defrosting was provided.
The fuselage was basically a tapering semi-
monocoque cylinder comprising transverse frames,
longitudinals, and stressed skin. Inside the fuselage were
two large stainless steel propellant tan ks for fuel and ox-
idizer. One was mounted behind the wing center section
and one in front. The forward tank was capable of holding
311 gal. of liquid oxygen and the aft, 293 gal. of diluted
The third X-l had an increased fuel capacity and could
carry 437 gal. of liquid oxygen and 498 gal. of diluted
ethyl alcohol. This aircraft also carried 31 gal. of hydrogen
peroxide to provide power for its propulsion unit's ad-
The X-l also was equipped with several communica-
tion and radar beacon type antenna. Other than conven-
tional communications radios, there was nothing unusual
about its avionics complement. The aircraft was,
however, equipped with a wide variety of dynamic sen-
sors which in turn were interfaced with a variety of
THE BELL X.1A, X.1B, X·1C,
(The Second Generation):
All three second generation X-l s had turbo-driven pro-
pellant pumps which were essentially the same as that
utilized in the ill-fated third X-l (46-064) and described
in the preceeding chapter, increased fuel capacity (limited
by the B-29/B-50's bomb-bay dimensions which allowed
only a 4 ft. 6 in. increase in fuselage length over that of
the first generation X-ls), a stepped windscreen and
canopy (for improved pilot ingress and egress, and im-
proved pilot visibility), an ejection seat (not installed un-
til the type already had undertaken part of its flight test
program), cockpit pressurization, and a fighter-type con-
trol stick (the first generation X-l s used an H-shaped yoke
for improved control system leverage).
Aluminum construction was used throughout. There
was little unconventional about the airframes except that,
like their predecessors, the second generation X-l s were
stressed to plus and minus 18 g's.
Propellant capacity was 500 gal. of liquid oxygen and
570 gal. of diluted ethyl alcohol. This was contained in
two tanks (oxidizer forward and fuel aft) separated by the
wing center section. Additionally, 37 gal. of hydrogen
peroxide were provided as fuel for powering the engine
The landing gear was simiiar to that used on the first
generation aircraft, though modified slightly to accom-
modate heavier empty weights. The free-castoring (equip-
ped with a shimmy damper) nose wheel could be steered
through the use of differential braking of the main gear
The flight control system, which was virtually identical
to that of the first generation X-l s (with the exception of
the use of a control stick rather than a control yoke), re-
·mained un-boosted and consisted of dynamically bal-
anced ailerons, a dynamically balanced elevator, and a
conventional rudder. The horizontal stabilizer was ad-
justable in pitch for trim control from the cockpit. Perhaps
the only distinctive change of note was the slight reduc-
tion in flap area from 11.6 to 11.46 sq. ft. All other con-
trol surface areas remained essentially the same.
In general, the X-lA, X-l B, and X-l Dwere quite similar.
However, the X-l D differed in having a new low-pressure
fuel system, a slightly increased fuel capacity, and minor
changes in cockpit instrumentation. The X-l B later was
modified to accommodate the aforementioned high-
altitude reaction controi system. This led to the addition
of slightly extended wingtips-thus giving the X-l B a
greater total wingspan than any of the other first or
second generation X-ls. Related modifications were re-
quired to accommodate the hydrogen peroxide propellant
system and the cockpit-mounted reaction control system
indicators, function lights, and stick modifications.
All three aircraft utilized a NACA 65-108 airfoil section
wing with an 8% thickness/chord ratio that was similar,
in almost every respect, to that of the first generation X-l s
(46-062 and 46-064, specifically).
THE BELL X·1E:
During April 1959, X-l, 46-063, was grounded in order
to modify it into what was to become the X-l E. A number
of significant modifications were incorporated, not the
least of which were the addition of a turbopump-equipped
XLRll, a stepped windscreen and hard canopy, an ejec-
tion seat (the surplus seat from the second Northrop X-4,
46-677), and an extremely thin 4% thickness/chord ratio
The latter, a product of the Stanley Aviation Corpora-
tion of Denver, Colorado, was perhaps the most impor-
tant modification. Under the direction of Stanley project
engineer Gordon Valentine, the wing was built and stress-
tested, and then transported to Edwards AFB for installa-
tion. It was a mUlti-spar layout with tapered milled skins
attached by bolts tapped into solid ribs and spars. The
rectangular section spars had no capstrips. Maximum in-
side clear depth at the root was 2-1/8 in., and maximum
wing thickness at the root was a mere 3-3/8 in.
Inside the wing surfaces were 343 baked-on plastic
gauges to measure structural strain and temperatures.
More than 200 pressure pickup orifices had to be im-
bedded in the wing surfaces and connected with remote
manometers by more than 1,500 ft. of 5/32 o.d. aluminum
No modifications were made to the landing gear or the
tail surfaces. The last nine flights of the X-l E program
were conducted with ventral fins installed; these im-
proved directional stability at high-Mach.
THE BELL X·1
(The First Generation):
The three X-l s were powered by a single four-chamber
Reaction Motors, Inc. bifuel XLRll-RM-3 ('6062 and
'6063) or XLRll-RM-5 ('6064) rocket engine (the Reac-
tion Motors designation was Model 6000C4). Fuel was
liquid oxygen and diluted ethyl alcohol. Maximum thrust
rating was 6,000 Ibs. at sea level. The engine weighed
345 Ibs. dry.
The XLR11 was not throttleable, but the combustion
chambers could be fired either individually or in groups.
Each chamber was rated at 1,500 Ibs. thrust. At max-
imum thrust settings, the engine was expected to pro-
vide full power for approximately 5 minutes before fuel
The third X-l, when finally completed, differed from its
two stablemates in being equipped with a steam-driven
turbopump that served to transfer propellants from their
respective tanks to the powerplant. Hydrogen peroxide
was passed over a manganese dioxide catalyst to pro-
vide the superheated steam necessary to drive the turbo-
pump turbine. Engine dimensions included a length
57 in. a width of 13.5 in. and a height of 18 in.
THE BELL X·1A, X·1B, X-1C,
(The Second Generation):
The X-lA, X-l B, and X-1D each were powered bl
single four-chamber Reaction Motors, Inc., bill
XLRll-RM-5 (Reaction Motors, Inc. designation I
E6000D4) rocket engine which weighed 345 Ibs. dry.1
sea level thrust rating was 6,000 Ibs. with all II
chambers operating. Each chamber was rated at 1 , ~
Ibs. thrust. Like the XLRlls used in the first generati
X-l s, the RM-5 had no throttle and was controlled byt
niting one or more of the thrust chambers at will. Theil
was diluted ethyl alcohol and the oxidizer was liqUid 0:
gen. Engine dimensions included a length of 57 in.
width of 13.5 in., and a height of 18 in.
Midway through its flight test program, the X-181
equipped with an XLRll-RM-9 engine (Reaction Moto
Inc. designation was E-6000C4-1) which differed onll
haVing an electric spark, low-tension interrupter type
nition in place of the older high-tension type.
THE BELL X·1 E:
The X-l E was powered by a Reaction Motors, Inc. R
LR-8-RM-5 (advanced XLR11) four-chamber r o ~
engine rated at 6,000 Ibs. tho at sea level. As with alII
rocket engines, this powerplant was not throttleable,1
instead, depended on ignition of anyone chamber
group of chambers to vary the thrust rating. The LR·81
the same type and model RMI engine used in the DouS
D-558-11 research aircraft for the Navy.
THE BELL X-1
(The First Generation):
The first X-l, 46-062, is on permanent display in!
main hall of the Smithsonian Institution's National M
Space Museum, Washington, D.C. Before being tum
over to the NASM on August 6, 1950, the aircraft co
pleted a total of 78 glide and powered flights.
The second X-l, 46-063, in X-l E configuration, is
permanent display in front of the National Aeronau:
and Space Administration's Dryden Flight Resea'
Facility building at Edwards AFB, Cali!ornia. Beforel
ing converted to the X-l E, this aircraft completed atl
of 74 glide and powered flights.
The third X-l, 46-064, was destroyed on Novembe'
1951, during static ground operations at Edwards AI
California immediately following a mated test hop un:
its B-50 carrier aircraft. The explosion eventually I
determined to have been caused by the incompatib'
of Ulmer leather gasket material and liquid o x y ~
Before the accident the third aircraft had "COmpletedI
successful glide flight.
THE BELL X·1A, X-1B, X·1C,
(The Second Generation):
The X-l A was jettisoned to destruction following an
flight explosion over Edwards AFB, California on Aug
8, 1955. This aircraft had completed a total of 25 g'
and powered flights prior to the accident.
The X-l B is displayed permanently at the Air Fo
Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. This aircraftl
completed a total of 27 glide and powered flights bel
retirement and delivery to the Museum on January
The X-l D was jettisoned to destruction following an
flight explosion and fire on August 22, 1951,0
Edwards AFB, California. This aircraft had completedl
glide flight prior to its loss.
THE BELL X·1 E:
Sans ventral fins, today it can be seen mounted 0
pylon in front of the National Aeronautics and SpaceI
ministration building, Dryden Flight Research Cer
facility, at Edwards AFB, California. ~ - _ . _ - ------------------
The following is a complete listing of all X·l glide and powered flights conducted between January 25,1946, and October 23,1951 (#1 = 46·062; #2 = 46·063; #3 = 46·064; first flight implies first
flight by pilot as well as first flight of aircraft):
SEQ. DATE A/C PILOT MACH/MPH MAX. ALT. REMARKS SEQ. DATE AlC PILOT MACH/MPH MAX. ALT. REMARKS
NO. NO. (MPH est.) (FT.lMSL) NO. NO. (MPH est.) (FT.lMSL)
1 1/25/46 1 Woolams ?I? ? First glide flight. 72 2/25/48 1 Fitzgerald ?/?
Glide flight to check repairs
2 2/5/46 1 Woolams ?I? 7 73 3/4/48 2 Hoover .943/622
3 2/5/46 1 Woolams ?I? ? Second flight of the day. 74 3/10/48 2 Hoover 1.065/703 40,000 First NACA supersonic flight.
4 2/8/46 1 Woolams ?I? ? Wing damage incurred 75 3/11/48 1 Yeager 1.25/845 45,000
following landing gear
76 3/22/48 2 Hoover 1.12/739 ?
77 3/26/48 1 Yeager 1.451957 50,000 Fastest flight in original X·l
5 2/19/46 1 Woolams ?I? ? Nose gear collapse on
78 3/30148 2 Hoover .901594 36,000
6 2/25/46 1 Woolams ?I? ?
79 3/31148 1 Yeager ?I? ? Engine malfunction caused
7 2/25/46 1 Woolams ?/? 7 Second flight of the day.
flight to be completed as a
8 2/26/46 1 Woolams ?I? 7 glide.
9 2/26/46 1 Woolams ?I?
Second flight of the day. 80 3/31/48 2 Lilly 1.1/726 40,000
10 3/6/46 1 Woolams ?I?
Last flight at Pinecastle AAF, 81 4/4/48 2 Lilly 71? ? Engine failed to light; flight
Florida. completed as a glide.
11 10111/46 2 Goodlin .39/230 25,000 First flight of #2 aircraft. 82 4/6/48 1 Fitzgerald 1.11744 45,000
12 10/14/46 2 Goodlin .39/230 25,000
83 4/7/48 1 Lundquist 71? 7 First flight; glide flight.
13 10117/46 2 Goodlin .39/230 25,000 84 4/7/48 1 Fitzgerald 1.0/676 37,000
14 12/3/46 2 Goodlin .391230 25,000 85 4/9/48 1 Lundquist 71? 7
15 12/9/46 2 Goodlin .751510 35,000 First powered flight of the 86 4/9/48 2 Lilly .89/587 30,000
87 4/16148 1 Lundquist ?I? 7
16 12/20/46 2 Goodlin ?I? 27,000
88 4/16148 2 Lilly .94/620 41,000 Nose wheel down lock broke
17 1/8147 2 Goodlin .80/540 37,000
causing aircraft to skid on
18 1/17/47 2 Goodlin .82/554 30,000 nose.
19 1/22/47 2 Goodiin .76/515 31,000 89 4/26/48 1 Fitzgerald .9/608 28,000 Aborted due to engine
20 1/23/47 2 Goodlin .761515 30,000
21 1/30/47 2 Goodlin .751416 32,000
90 4/29/48 1 Lundquist 1.181798 40,000
22 1/31/47 2 Goodlin .701473 7
91 5/4/48 1 Fitzgerald 1.15/777 40,000
23 2/5/47 2 Goodlin ?I? 7
92 5/21/48 1 Lundquist .921622 32,000
24 2/7/47 2 Goodlin ?I? 7
93 5/25148 1 Fitzgerald 1.081731 30,000
25 2/19/47 2 Goodlin ?I? 7
94 5/26148 1 Yeager 1.101745 64,000
26 2/21/47 2 Goodlin ?I? 7 Glide flight due to engine
95 6/3148 1 Lundquist 71? 27,000 Landing gear problems led
to premature termination of
27 4/10/47 1 Goodlin .371250 25,000 First glide flight for Goodlin.
28 4/11/47 1 Goodlin .77/476 20,000 First powered flight.
96 11/1/48 2 Hoover .945/624 40,000
29 4/29/47 1 Goodlin .77/476 35,000
97 11/15/48 2 Hoover .98/647 40,000
30 4/30/47 1 Goodlin .751478 35,000
98 11/23/48 2 Champine .70/462 30,000 First flight.
31 5/5/47 1 Goodlin ?I? 7
99 11129/48 2 Champine .88/581 43,000
32 5/15/47 1 Goodlin ?I?
100 11/30/48 2 Champine ?I? 40,000
33 5/19/47 1 Goodlin ?I?
101 12/1/48 1 Yeager 1.05/710 28,000
34 5/21/47 1 Goodlin ?I? 7
102 12/2148 2 Champine 1.01/667 40,000
35 5/22/47 2 Johnston .72/487 7
103 12/13/48 1 Yeager .95/642 22,000
36 5/29/47 2 Goodlin .721487 7
104 12123/48 1 Yeager 1.091737 60,000
37 6/5/47 1 Goodlin 7/? ? Demo flight for the Aviation
105 1/5/49 1 Yeager ?f? 7 First conventional ground
38 8/6/47 1 Yeager ?I? ? First AF flight.
106 3/11/49 1 Ridley 1.23/831 7 First flight; small engine fire.
39 8/7/47 1 Yeager 71? 7
107. 3/16/49 1 Boyd 1.04/703 7 First flight; small engine fire.
40 8/8/47 1 Yeager 71? 7
108 3/21/49 1 Everest 1.22/825 7 First flight.
41 8/29/47 1 Yeager .85/570 7
109 3/25/49 1 Everest 1.24/838 ? Pressure suit check.
42 9/4147 1 Yeager 89/596 7
110 4/14/49 1 Ridley 1.07/723 40,000
43 9/8/47 1 Yeager .89/596 7
111 4/19/49 1 Everest 71? 7 Engine problems curtailed
44 9/10/47 1 Yeager .91/610 7
altitude record attempt.
45 9/12/47 1 Yeager .92/616 7
112 4/29/49 1 Ridley 1.431927 51,700
46 9/25/47 2 Yeager 71? 30,000
113 5/2/49 1 Yeager 1.45/972 50,000 New engine.
47 10/3/47 1 Yeager 71? 7
114 5/5/49 1 Everest ?I?
Engine explosion caused
48 1018/47 1 Yeager .925/620 40,000
115 5/6/49 2 Champine .92/607 40,000
49 10/10/47 1 Yeager .9971668 41,000
116 5/13/49 2 Champine .91/601 35,000
50 10/14/47 1 Yeager 1.06/700 45,000 First supersonic flight by
117 5/27/49 2 Champine .94/620 38,000
51 10/21/47 2 Hoover .84/568 24,000 First flight.
118 6/16/49 2 Champine 1.06/700 40,000
52 10/27/47 1 Yeager ?I? 7 Glide flight due to electrical
119 6/23149 2 Champine .97/640 47,000
120 7/11/49 2 Champine .91/601 43,000 Cockpit camera broke loose
53 10/28/47 1 Yeager ?I? ?
causing minor interior
54 10/29/47 1 Yeager 71? 7
121 7/19/49 2 Champine .911605 42,000
55 10/31/47 1 Yeager 71? 7
122 7/25149 1 Everest 1.21804 66,846 Altitude record attempt.
56 11/3/47 1 Yeager ?I? ?
123 7/27/49 2 Champine .881581 40,000
57 11/4/47 1 Yeager ?I? 7
124 8/4/49 2 Champine 1.12/739 7
58 11/6/47 1 Yeager 1.35/905 48,600
125 8/8/49 1 Everest 71? 71,902 Altitude record attempt.
59 12/16/47 2 Hoover .84/568 7
126 8/25/49 1 Everest 71? 69,000 Loss of pressurization during
60 12/17/47 2 Hoover .80/541 7
alttiude record attempt
61 1/6/48 2 Hoover .74/500 7
forces use of partial
62 1/8/48 2 Hoover .83/561 7
pressure suit in emergency
63 1/9148 2 Lilly ?I? 7 First flight for first time; Everest
64 1/15/48 2 Lilly .761514 7
65 1/16/48 1 Yeager 1.05/703 38,000
127 9/23/49 2 Griffith .99/653 41,500 First flight.
66 1/21/48 2 Hoover .82/554 7
128 1016/49 1 Fleming 1.2/811 7 First flight.
67 1/22/48 1 Yeager 1.20/804 7
129 10/26/49 1 Johnson 71? 7 First flight.
68 1/23/48 2 Hoover .89/596 31,000
130 11/29/49 1 Everest ?I? 7
69 1/27/48 2 Hoover .925/620 7
131 11/30/49 2 Griffith .93/614 7
70 1/30/48 1 Yeager 1.20/815 36,000
132 12/2/49 1 Everest ?I? 7
71 2124/48 1 Fitzgerald 1.10/744 40,000 First flight; engine fire
133 2/21/50 1 Everest 71?
caused competion as glide 134 4/25/50 1 Yeager 71? 7
flight. 135 4/7150 1 Ridley 71? 7
Continued next page.
FLIGHT LOGS continued ...
SEQ. DATE AlC PILOT MACH/MPH MAX. ALT. REMARKS SEQ. DATE A/C PILOT MACH/MPH MAX. ALT. REMARKS
NO. NO. (MPH est.) (FT.lMSL) NO. NO. (MPH est.) (FT.lMSL)
136 5/8/50 1 Ridley ?I? ? 35 11/26/54 X-1B Holtoner ?I? ? First flight; first officer of
137 5/12/50 1 Yeager ?I? ? Last tlight of #1 aircralt;
General rank to fly any X·l
" made for purposes of
tootage for movie Jet Pilot. 36 11/30/54 X-1B Everest ?I? ?
138 5/12/50 2 Griffith .95/627 40,000 37 12/2/54 X-1B Everest 2.3/1,541 65,000
5/17/50 2 Griffith 1.13/746 45,000 38 8/14/56 X-IB McKay ?I? ? Nose gear failed on
140 5/26/50 2 Griffith 1.20/792 45,000
141 8/9/50 2 Griffith .98/647 45,000
39 8/29/56 X-IB McKay ?I?
142 8/11/50 2 Griffith .92/607 44,000
40 9/7/56 X-1B McKay 1.8/1,188 56,000
143 9/21/50 2 Griffith .90/659 46,000
41 9/18/56 X-1B McKay ?/? ? Glide flight.
144 10/4/50 2 Griffith ?I? 45,000 42 9/28/56 X-1B McKay ?/? 60,000
145 4/6/51 2 Yeager ?/? ?
43 1/3/57 X·1B McKay 1.94/1,280 ?
146 4/20/51 2 Crosstield 1.07/706 First flight.
44 5/22/57 X·1B McKay 1.45/957 ?
147 4/27/51 2 Crosslield 1.12/739 45,000
45 6/7/57 X-1B McKay 1.5/990 ?
148 5/15/51 2 Crossfield 1.12/739 45,000
46 6/24/57 X-1B McKay 1.5/900 ?
149 7/12/51 2 Crossfield 1.12/739 45,000
47 7/11/57 X-1B McKay ?I? Glide flight due to landing
150 7/20/51 2 Crossfield 1.12/739 45,000
151 7/20/51 3 Cannon ?I? ? First flight; glide flight; only
48 7/19/57 X-IB McKay 1.65/1,089
flight of #3 X-I. 49 7/29/57 X-IB McKay 1.55/1,023 Extended wingtips for
152 7/31/51 2 Crossfield .89/587 45,000
reaction control system
153 8/3/51 2 Crossfield .90/594- 45,000
154 8/8/51 2 Crossfield .90/594 45,000
50 8/8/57 X-1B McKay 1.5/990 60,000
155 8/10/51 2 Crossfield .90/594 45,000
51 8/15/57 X-1B Armstrong ?I? ? First flight, nose gear failed
156 8/27/51 2 Walker 1.16/766 ?
157 9/5/51 2 Crossfield ?/? ?
52 11/27/57 X-1B Armstrong ?/? First flight in which the new
reaction control system was
158 10/23/51 2 Walker ?I? ? Engine and flap problems
led to premature termination
53 1/16/58 X-1B Armstrong ?/?
of flight; completed as a
54 1/23/58 X-1B Armstrong 1.5/990 Last flight of second
glide; last f1igh1 of 1st X-1
generaion X-1 series.
PILOT AGENCY FLIGHTS
Col. Albert Boyd Air Force 1 Herbert Hoover NACA 14 PILOT AGENCY FLIGHTS
Joseph Cannon NACA 1 Maj. Richard Johnson Air Force 1
Robert Champine NACA 13 Alvin Johnston Bell 1
Neil Armstrong NACA 4
Scott Crossfield NACA 10 Howard Lilly NACA 6
Maj. Stuart Childs Air Force 1
Maj. Frank Everest Air Force 10 Maj. Gustav Lundquist Air Force 6
Lt.Col. Frank Everest Air Force 2
Capt. James Fitzgerald Air Force 7 Capt. Jack Ridley Air Force 5
Col. Horace Hanes Air Force 1
Lt.Col. Patrick Fleming Air Force 1 Joe Walker NACA 2
Capt. Richard Harer Air Force 1
Chalmers Goodlin Bell 26 Jack Woolams Bell 10
Brig. Gen. Stanley Holtoner Air Force 1
John Griffith NACA 9 Capt. Charles Yeager Air Force 35
John McKay NACA 13
Maj. Arthur Murray Air Force 15?
Lt.Col. Jack Ridley Air Force 2
The following is a complete listing of all X-1A, X·1B, and X·1D flights conducted between July
Maj. Robert Stephens Air Force 1
Joseph Walker NACA 1
24,1951, and January 23,1958 (first flight indicates first flight by pilot as well as first flight of aircraft):
Maj. Charles Yeager Air Force 4
SEQ. DATE A/C PILOT MACH/MPH MAX. ALT. REMARKS
Jean Ziegler Bell 7
NO. NO. (MPH est.) (FT./MSL)
7/24/51 X·1D Ziegler ?/? First glide flight; nose gear
failed on landing; only flight
The following is a complete listing of all X-1 E flights between December 12, 1955 and Novembel
completed by this aircraft.
6, 1958 (first flight indicates first flights of pilots):
2 2/14/53 X-IA Ziegler ?I? First glide flight.
SEQ. DATE AlC PILOT MACH/MPH MAX. ALT. REMARKS
3 2/20/53 X-IA Ziegler ?I? Though planned as a first NO. NO. (MPH EST.) (FT.lMSL)
powered flight, this flight
1 12/12/55 X-1E Walker ?I? First flight; first glide flight
was completed as glide due
to propellant system
2 12/15/55 X-1E Walker ?I?
problems. 3 4/3/56 X-1E Walker .85/561
4 2/21/53 X-1A Ziegler ?I? First powered flight. 4 4/30/56 X-1E Walker ?I? Glide flight due to engine ~
5 3/26/53 X-1A Ziegler ?I? malfunction. ~
6 4/10/53 X-1A Ziegler .93/614
5 5/11/56 X-1E Walker .84/554
7 4/25/53 X-1A Ziegler .93/614
6 6/7/56 X-1E Walker 1.55/1,023
8 11/21/53 X-1A Yeager 1.15/759
7 6/18/56 X-1E Walker 1.74/1,148 Minor landing damage.
9 12/2/53 X-1A Yeager 1.5/990
8 7/26/56 X-1E Walker ?/? Engine problems.
'" 10 12/8/53 X-1A Yeager 1.9/1,254 First attempt at high Mach
9 8/31/56 X-1E Walker 2.0/1,320 60,000+
flight. 10 9/14/56 X-1E Walker 2.1/1,386 60,000+
11 12/12/53 X-IA Yeager 2.44/1,650 75,000 Speed record; but aircralt 11 9/20/56 X-1E Walker ?I? ? Engine problems.
12 10/3/56 X-1E Walker ?I? ? Engine problems.
coupling phenomenon and
13 11/20/56 X-1E Walker ?I? Glide flight due to engine
went out of control; Yeager
recovered at 25,000 ft.
14 4/25/57 X-1E Walker 1.71/1,129 67,000+
Fourteen Air Force flights were attempted during the first half of 1954. Three of these flights were
15 5/15/57 X-1E Walker 2.0/1,320 73,000+ Landing accident caused
successful in achieving their objective-which in most instances was to achieve the highest altitude
possible with the X-I A aircraft. These flights were: 16 9/19/57 X-1E Walker ?I? Engine problems.
17 10/8/57 X-1E Walker 2.24/1,478 Fastest flight of X-1 E
5/28/54 X·1A Murray ?I? 87,094 Unofficial world altitude
18 5/14/58 X-1E Walker ?I? First flight with ventral fins
6/4/54 X-1A Murray 1.97/1,300 89,750 Unofficial world altitude
19 6/10/58 X-1E Walker ?/? Landing accident caused
8/26/54 X-1A Murray ?I? 90,440 Unofficial world altitude
20 9/10/58 X-1E Walker ?I?
7/20/55 X-1A Walker 1.45/957 First and last NACA flight.
21 9/17/58 X-1E Walker ?I?
28 9/24/54 X-1B Ridley ?I? First flight; ,1irst glide flight
22 9/19/58 X-1E McKay ?I? First flight.
by this aircraft.
23 9/30/58 X-IE McKay ?I?
29 10/6/54 X-1B Ridley ?I? Glide following lox fank
24 10/16/58 X-1E McKay ?I?
25 10/28/58 X-IE McKay ?I?
30 10/8/54 X-1B Murray ?I? First flight; first powered
flight by this aircraft.
26 11/6/58 X-1E Walker ?/? U-Deta fuel test flight; la.
31 10/13/54 X-1B Stephens ?I? First flight.
flight of X-1 E program; a.
32 10/19/54 X-1B Childs ?/? First flight.
last X-1 flight.
33 10/26/54 X·1B Hanes ?/? First flight.
PILOT AGENCY FLIGHTS
34 11/4/54 X·1B Harer ?/? First flight. John McKay NACA 5
Joseph Walker NACA 21
"Chuck" Yeager's involvement in the X-I program resulted in the first nose markings seen on the aircraft. Informally named after Yeager's wife, Glennis, the first X-I, 46-062,
was given the nickname "Glamorous Glennis" and adorned with appropriate nose art. Other items noteworthy in this view include the small nose bump which effectively
faired over the dual static pitot lines that ran around the right side of the nose mounted nitrogen tank, aft. There was no bulge on the left side of the aircraft.
The first X-I, 46-062, on the ramp at Muroc Army Air Field During 1947. Static tests of the Reaction Motors, Inc. XLRII four-chamber regeneratively cooled rocket engine were
taking place at the time, and shock balls, caused by the exhaust gas's sonic velocity, barely are visible exiting one of the engine's four combustion chambers. Safety
was not a primary concern during these early days; note the absence of landing gear chocks, ground crew protection, and monitoring equipment.
The second X-1, 46-063, following roll-out at Bell's Niagara Falls, New York facility during 1946. Bright orange scheme over-all, typical of the period, was thought to make the
aircraft more visible to chase pilots and ground tracking teams. Fuselage generally was symmetrical in contour with few straight lines. X-1 's .50 cal. bullet ancestry
was readily apparent from almost any angle. Fairings on fuselage top and bottom covered efectrical wiring, propellant lines, and control cables.
One of the few visible features distinguishing the first X-I from the second (46-063, shown) was the pressurization vent on the hatch door. The second aircraft had only one,
and the first aircraft had two. Otherwise, the two aircraft were almost identical. Throughout most of their respective flight test programs, the first generation
X-1s remained painted orange. At Ii later date, the ventral and dorsal spines and vertical fin on 46-062 were painted white.
Drawn by Mike Wagnon
Bell X-1, 46-062, in F.S. 12243 gloss orange over-all, as seen during initial tests at Muroc AS during 1947. The
aircraft carried the standard star-and-bar U.S. national insigne on both sides of the aft fuseiage and on the
upper left and lower right wing surfaces. Note the Bell iogo appearing on both the nose and under
the horizontal stabilizer on both both sides of the aircraft.
Bell X-1, 46-063, as it apeared shortly after roll-out from Bell's production facility at Niagara Falls, New York.
The national insignia was part of WWII vintage and the aircraft, like 46-062, was
painted F.S. 12243 gloss orange over-all.
Bell X-1, 46-064, in its over-all gloss white paint scheme. Positions and scale of the national insigne were similar
to those on all first generation X-1s. Even with the white paint, the Bell logo still appeared on both the
nose and tail of the aircraft (almost certainly in black). Noteworthy are the deleted windscreen
restraining straps removed only from this aircraft.
Bell X-1E, 46-063, in its over-all white paint scheme with bare metal control surfaces and ventral fins. The NACA
insigne was yellow and black and the anti-glare panel ahead of the windscreen was flat black. The "rescue"
placard on the forward nose panel was painted in red with white lettering, while "X-1E" was painted in red
with black shadow lines. A portion of the pitot boom was painted flat black, but can be seen at other times
in bare metal. The ventral fins, which initially were left bare metal, eventually were painted white.
Bell X-1B, 48-1385, in bare metal displaying the yellow and black NACA insigne. The arrow below the
cockpit was painted red with white lettering. "X-1S" was stenciled in red with black shadow lines. Data
and warning placards appeared in red stenciling, as well.
Bell X-1C depicted in bare metal, over-all scheme. As this aircraft only was completed in
full-scale mock-up form, its actual markings are unknown.
Bell X-1D, 48-1386, in bare metal with a white vertical fin tip. The short life of this aircraft left few resources
for marking references. One variation on the basic theme was a white painted ventral spine
and the Bell logo on the nose and tail.
Bell X-1A, 48-1384, while in NACA service in over-all gloss white paint with bare metal control surfaces. The
NACA insigne was on a yellow field with black borders and a black winged shield. The fuselage skin near
the tank was left unpainted in consideration of the deleterious effect on paint caused
by the extremely low temperatures of liquid oxygen.
BELL X-1, 46-062
- ~ ~ r -
Drawn by Mike Wagnon
feature: Bell X-;
Bell X-1A, 48-1384, in over-all bare metal with black anti-glare panel and white lin tip. The Bell logo appeared on
both sides of the nose and tail. The national insignia was located in proper positions while USAF appeared
on the upper-left and lower right wing surfaces. Note that the USAF appeared as an abbreviation rather
than an acronym. "X-1A" was in gloss red with gloss black shadow lines.
SPECIFICATIONS AND PEl
Length 30'11" 35'
Wingspan 28'0" 28'
Wing Area (Inc. fuselage center section) 130 sq.' 1305
Leading edge sweep 5° 3' 5°
Wing root chord 6'2.2" 6'2.
Wing tip chord 3'1.1" 3'1.
Wing root Incidence +2° 30' +2° :
Wing tip incidence +1° 30' +1° :
Wing aspect ratio 6.03 6.
Mean aerodynamic chord 57.71" 57.7
Total aileron area 6.42 sq.' 6.425
Aileron angular movements up 12° up 1
dn 12° dn 1
Total flap area 11.6 sq.' 11.46 s
Height 10'10" 10'
Total vertical fin area 25.6sq.' 25.6 s
Rudder area (aft of hinge line) 5.2 sq.' 5.25
Total horizontal tail area 26 sq.' 265
Total elevator area 5.2 sq.' 5.25
(aft of hinge line)
Wheel track 4'3" 4'
Wheelbase 8'5" 9'
Empty weight (lb•.)
'6062 w/8% wing 7,000 6,8
'6063 w/10% wing 6,750
'6064 w/8% wing 6,847
Gross weight (Ibs.)
'6062 w/8% wing 12,250 16,4
'6063 w/10% wing 12,000
'6064 w/8% wing 14.751
Maximum speed (Mach/mph)
'6062 and '6063 1.45/957 2.44/1,6
Maximum altitude (ft.) 70,000+ 90,000
Endurance (at max. power) 5 min. 4m
Bell X-1E, is shown with right side illustrated. Painting was over-all gloss white on 46-063, with ba
surfaces and gloss white ventral fins. The pitot boom was bare metal. The "rescue" arrow ..
.. in gloss red with gloss white lettering, and "X-1E" appeared in gloss red with gloss black
lines. The NACA logo was in standard colors, as were the national insignia,
5·062, in F,S, 12243 gloss orange over-all with F.S, 17925, gloss white trim, Aircraft was
this scheme only lor a short while, late in its career, All other markings, such
as national insigne, were standard for type,
AVAILABLE SCALE MODELS
Airvac (Bell X-l): 1/72nd VAC
Airvac (Bell X-l E): 1/72nd VAC
Revell (Bell X-l): 1/32nd
Strombecker (X-1B[A,C,D)) wlpilot bust: 1/48th
Strombecker (X-1B[A,C,D)) w-o/pilot bust: 1/48th
No decals other than those with kits are available at this time,
35' + 30'11"
130 sq.' 115 sq.'
5° 3' 5° 3'
+2° 30' ?
+ 1° 30' ?
up 12° ?
do 12° ?
11.46 sq.' ?
25.6 sq.' 25.6sq.'
5.2 sq,' 5,2 SQ.'
26 sq.' 26 SQ.'
5.2 sq,' 5.2 SQ.'
Drawn by Mike Wagnon
Rarely seen color image of the first second-generation X-I, X-lA, 48-1384, in its original, bright orange wraparound scheme worn only during the first few weeks following its
late-1952 roll-out. This paint was removed from the aircraft apparently before it was shipped to Edwards AFB. The X-lA, though to claim an exceptional list of speed
and altitude records, eventually would fall victim to the same Ulmer leather culprit that destroyed the X-1D and later, the third first-generation X-I.
The X-IA was, by far, the most successful of the three second-generation X-Is. It is seen in flight over Edwards AFB during the mid-1950s. The frozen condensation around
the liquid oxygen tank (located in the fuselage section just ahead of the wing center section) occurred on almost every powered flight. Noteworthy in this
view is the rarely seen all-white wing undersurface which supposedly increased the aircraft's trackability at altitude.
Test mating the X-IA at Bell. The large hydraulic lifts replaced the old-style pit loading system. Readily discernible in this view is one of two beef-up straps riveted to the
lower fuselage sides just above the bomb bay. These straps corrected the loss of fuselage rigidity that occurred when the aft bomb bay cut-outs dictated
the removal of select stringers and the bomb bay door assemblies. Note, too, the B-29's missing main landing gear doors.
The X-IA and X-1B, though being flown. at Edwards during the same time period, rarely were photographed together. With the exception of serial numbers, pitot and test boom
placement (which changed regularly), and miscellaneous markings, differences were few. Visible on the side of the X-IA fuselage, just below the canopy,
is the aircraft's flight record. The small black rectangles on the fusefage sides are contact points for the anti-sway snubber pads.
The ill-fated third, second-generation X-I, X-·lD, 48-1386. This aircraft would complete only an unpowered glide flight on July 24, 1951, before falling victim to the Ulmer
leather gasket. Like its two stablemates, the X-IA (48-1384), and the X-IB (48-1385), the X-lD was flown unpainted except for the long white ventral fairing
underneath the fuselage, the white vertical fin cap, the white wing undersurfaces (for improved trackability), and the standard national insignia.
The X-l0, though sequentially the last of the three second-generation X-Is, actually was the first to be completed and flown. The aircraft is seen at Bell shortly after roll-out
and immediately prior to delivery to Edwards AFB during July 1951. The X-l0's short life caused it to be one of the feast photographed of the entire X-I family. Noteworthy
in this view is the lack of lox, hydrogen peroxide, and water/alcohol dump tube extensions normally seen next to the combustion chamber nozzles.
Ii I I
The completed cockpit of X-I, 46-062. In the foreground is the peculiar H-shaped yoke found in all three of the first-generation aircraft. This configuration was designed to give
the pilot more leverage if additional effort was required for controf at sonic velocities. Rotating the upper portion of the yoke provided roll control, and
moving the entire assembly back and forth provided pitch control. The aircraft also was equipped with conventional rudder pedals.
The back side of the instrument panel installed in X-I, 46-062. All instrumentation
was analogue, and much of it was dependent upon pneumatic power for
actuation. Test jig installation ,belies complexity of plumbing problem.
The main instrument panel of X-I, 46-062, was painted in black "crackle"-like paint
All instrument faces similarly were painted black. The Mach meter, then a
unique feature, was the top instrument in the center row..
The left "console" area of X-I, 46-062. Nitrogen pressure gauges are visible on the
upper left panel, and the oxygen regulator can be seen immediately to the left of
the control yoke. The oxygen hose ran from the regulator to the pilot's face mask.
Aft cockpit bulkhead provided space for 34 AH battery, a gyro platform (for instrumen-
tation), some communications equipment, and the seat back. This bulkhead
was, in turn, mounted just ahead of the liquid oxvqen tank.,
_ Q ~
The left sub-console was angled at approximately 40° off the main instrument panel.
It accommodated oxygen regulator indicators, on/off switches for the radar beacon,
a camera, strain gauges, miscellaneous powerplant systems, and radio equipment.
The right sub-console, also angled at approximately 40°off the main instrument
panel, accommodated the fuel and lox jettison switches, nitrogen pressure
gauges, and the associated nitrogen control knobs.
The left "console" area of the cockpit of X-I, 46-064, supported a voltage inverter,
~ various powerplant and propellant system control switches, and gauges for
~ monitoring propellant supplies and nitrogen gas quantities and pressures.
The cockpit of X-I, 46-064 differed only in detail from those of its stablemates.
Readily discernible in this view was the peculiar "H"-shaped control
yoke seen in all three first-generation aircraft.
The right sub-console panel of X-I, 46-063, served to support on/off switches for the
battery, cockpit camera, radio, pitot heat, and various NACA test instruments.
Additionally, it support the switch for changing the ARC-S radio bands.
The X-I E was the only one of the first-generation X-I airframes to be equipped with
an ejection seat (retrieved from an X-4)-and this did not take place until the
NACA modified the aircraft into the unique X-IE configuration.
· t ~ ~
- - ~ . . . ~
The surplus ejection seat from the second Northrop X-4, 46-677, was commandeered for use in the X-IE. Its addition to the cockpit led to a major nose section redesign effort
that included sealing off the original cockpit ingress/egress hatch, removing the original windscreen, and the replacement of the latter with a totally new hatch
and wind-screen assembly. The changes, which permitted an improved view forward, also forced the pilot to sit higher in the cockpit.
Famous Bell test pilot, Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin
demonstrates the large size of the ingress/egress
hatch found only on the first-generation X-Is' right sid!
One of the few discernible differences marking external physical variations between the first X-I, 46-062, and the
second, 46-063, was the number of pressurization vent holes in the cockpit hatch door. The former had
two, and the latter had only one. Otherwise the two aircraft were virtually identical.
While transporting the X-I s (46-063, shown) cross-country, the aircraft were secured in position using heavy canvas shackles in addition to the normal twin-hook dorsal attachment
unit. When an actual mission was being flown the entrance hatch door was left off to permit pilot ingress in flight. A small retractable ladder assembly, barely
discernible protruding from the bomb bay, was lowered into position to facilitate pilot entry. The door then was installed after him.
The main instrument panel of the X-I A. The familiar T-shaped arrangement generally was conventional, though several of the indicator gauges, such as the turbine governor
pressure, fuel (tank and dome) and lox (tank and dome) pressure, and first stage line pressure gauges were not. The flight instruments were centrally mounted
with the propulsion system related indicators on either side. The missing gauge in this view appears to be the Mach meter.
mt The cockpit sides of the second generation X-Is generally were devoid of accouterments. The left side wall served as the mounting surface for the very simple throttle quadrant
(which, when moved forward, basically ignited either one, two, three, or all four of the XLRII rocket chambers), and the right side wall served as the mounting surface
for the oxygen regulator (removed in this view). Interior colors were medium green on the walls and flooring and a black instrument panel.
X-1 SECOND GENERATION INSTRUMENT PANEL
1. Cabin Altimeter
2. Aircraft Altimeter
3. Windshield Defroster Control Valve
4. Tank Vent and Pressurizing Switches
5. landing Gear Warning Lights
6. Fuel and Lox Shut-Off Valve Switches
Line Temperature Gauge
Line Temperature Warning Light
10. HlO: Temperature Relay Reset Button
0: Tank Temperature Gauge
12. HlO: Tank Temperature Warning Light
13. Chamber Pressure Indicators
14. Emergency Jettison Valve
15. Jellison Switches
16. Chamber Selector Switches
17. Oxygen Blinker
18. Oxygen Cylinder Pressure Gauge
19. Lox Quantily Reset Button
20. Source pressure Gauge
21. Windshield De·icing Pump
22. Fuel and Lox Quantity Gauge
23. Fire Warning Lights
24. Fuel Quantity Reset Bulton
25. Pump Outlet Pressure Indicator
26. H10! Tank Pressure Gauge
27. Attitude Gyro
28. Turbine Overspeed Warning Light
30. Turn and Bank Indicator
31. Stabilizer Position Indicator
32. Turbine Overspeed Reset Bulton
33. Turbine Governor Balance Pressure Indicator
34. Turbine Governor Balance Pressure Regulator
and Spill Valve
36. Lox Tank and Dome Loading Regulator and
37. Fuel Tank and Dome Loading Regulator and
38. First Stage Dome Loading Regulator and Spill Valve
39. First Stage Dome Pressure Gauge
40. Lox Tank and Dome Pressure Gauge
41. First Stage Line Pressure Gauge
42. Fuel Tank and Dome Pressure Gauge
43. Gyro Vent Selector Switch
44. Airspeed Indicator
45. Drop Light and Switch
1. Aileron Trim Tab Switch
2. Lox Auxiliary Vent Switch
3. Radio Switch
4. Battery Switch
5. Pitot Heat Switch
6. Radar Switch
7. Interphone Switch
8. Inverter Switch
9. Igniter Test Switch
10. Circuit Breakers
11. Fire Extinguisher Selector Switch
12. Radio Output Control
13. Radio Channel Selector Switch
...k.. 1 __Ln,..
The main instrument panels of the KI8 (left), X·IC mock·up (center), and X·IO (right). The general layouts of the X·18 and X·IO were quite similar to that found in the X·IA,
and thus conventional for the second·generation X-I family, but the X-IC, as a propulsion system, and later, weapon systems testbed differed in having major
The right cockpit console area essentially was the insulated metal wall of the aircraft with accouterments hungwhwe needed. Occupying theright wall of the X-1A (left) and
X-tO (right) were the oxygen hoses, the oxygen system regulator, and the pilot's flight suit heater controls. Combined with the oxygen system hoses were
the umbilicals for the oxygen-mask-mounted communications system. AS is apparent, were no armrests ,on the cockpit sides.
. . . I . .
Left (left) and right views of the X-lA's main instrument panel. The panel was mounted directly to the flat side walls of the cockpit, with shock cushions residing between
the mounting brackets and the actual panel. Though essentially simple in concept, the panel, which was typical of second generation X-l panels, was crowded
and, typical of its era, painted black. Flight instruments were centrally located, with propulsion system monitors surrounding the central cluster.
COCKPIT (Left Side)··
1. Radio Leads
2. Landing Gear Control Lever
3. Harness Release
4. Stabilizer Manual Control Lever
5. Flap Switch
7. Canopy Lock Indicator
8. Canopy Locking Lever
9. Canopy Emergency Release
1. Canopy Locking Lever
2. Canopy Pressure Seal Valve
3. Canopy Lock Indicator
4. Emergency Jettison Tank
5. Cabin Pressure Dump Valve
6. Stabilizer Actuator Switch
7. Emergency Cut·Off Switch
8. Oxygen Regulator
During static ground testing and related maintenance,
the cockpit was accessed via a special side-mounted
ladder. Pins hooked the ladder via small holes.
Nitrogen lines were rouled through the right headrest
assembly which also served as the mounting point
for the control system bellcranks and levers.
The revised cockpit configuration of the second-generation X-Is dictated a more conventional seating arrangement
and the installation of a rather blocky and robust integral headrest assembly. This also housed the
nose landing gear shock strut mount and related nose gear retraction unit.
The left side of the headrest assembly served as a mounting point lor additional control system bellcranks and a
pressure indicator, and several related plumbing lines. None of the X-Is were manufaclured with ejection
seats (though the X-18 later was modified by the NACAINASA to incorporate one).
The second-generation X-Is had canopies that were manually installed and removed
before and after each flight. On a typical mission, the canopy was installed after
the pilot had entered the cockpit from the carrier aircraft bomb bay.
The canopy was a laminated plexiglass bubble mounted rigidly in an aluminum frame
(a cracked transparency is shown). The X-I B later was modified by the
NACAINASA to have a hinged, vertically opening canopy.
The main gear were small and rugged and designed to withstand very high vertical loads. Main gear failures were
rfj/atively few in number, The basic design pioneered on the first-generation aircraft (shown) later was
utilized in' the design of the main gear for the second-generation aircraft.
The main gear axle and disc brake assembly of the
first-generation aircraft retracled upward and into the
main gear well located under the wing center sectipn.
~ The first-generation X-Is had a simple, free-castoring
,. nose wheel that when retracted was covered by a
i single-piece gear well door hinged on the right side.
~ g ~
The second-generation X-I nose gear assembly was essentially the same as that used on the first-generation aircraft.
Minor changes were incorporated in the wheel design, but otherwise, it was unchanged. Visible to the right
of the nose gear is the lox fill vent exhaust, with its peculiar plumbing fairing.
View looking forward of a first-generation aircraft main
landing gear. The doors were pneumatically opened
and closed in concert with the main gear strut.
View looking aft of a first-generation aircraft main
landing gear. The pneumatic strut permitted
extremely rapid extenision and/or retraction.
Main wheel and tire assembly of a first-generation X-I.
The U.S. Royal tire was a code A, 8-ply nylon,
24 x 7.7 unit. Inflation pressure was 115 psi.
The nose gear strut of the second-generation X-Is was
a typical free-castoring yoke assembly. A mechanical
linkage sequenced door opening and closing.
There were few changes visible in the basic design of the main gear of the second-
generation X-Is when compared to the first-generation. Gear well door warning
states the tire shoufd be inflated to 135 psi for towing at speeds of 20 mph.
The gear well door (second-generation aircraft, shown) was piano hinged to the
fuselage structure just below the wing center section. A mechanical strut opened
and closed the door in concert with the gear retraction/extension sequence.
View of first-generation gear well looking forward. Main strut axle assembly is visible,
along with pneumatic lines for braking, and actuator for retraction/extension.
Barely visible to the far right is part of a nitrogen tube bundle.
The main gear each were equipped with separate
hydraulic disc brakes. Differential use permitted
steering and sequential use provided braking.
The main landing gear assemblies were rugged units designed to accommodate the relatively high landing loads
incurred during the X-I 's high sink rate landings. The main load bearing carry-through structure
is visible as the centerpiece between the gear strut assemblies.
View of first-generation gear well looking aft. Main strut axle mount, near aircraft
centerline, is visible protruding from bulkhead. Cutouts in bulkhead provide
excellent view of complex nitrogen bundle assembly.
A small nitrogen sphere was mounted in the extreme forward nose of all three first-
generation X-Is. Nose boom sensor lines were routed around it on the right
side, thus causing the distinctive small bulge visible in many photos.
Second-generation X-I fuselages were built in three primary sections. The nose
section of the X-IA (apparently) is shown during assembly. The ffat ffoor of the
nose compartment served as a mounting point for test instrumentation.
Another nose bay package, consisting of accelerometers and miscellaneous sensors,
probably in the X-IA. Again, the mounting platform is a sheet of plywood.
This material was easy to drill and attach test equipment to.
There were many variations to the second-generation X-I nose cone configuralion.
Boom lengths and locations were particularly variable and highly dependent
upon test program objectives. Boom purposes varied with requirements.
The center section test equipment and nitrogen tank bay of a second-generation X-I.
Two piano hinged panels opened vertically to permit access. Strut assembly visible
in this view was attached to support hook assembly for carrier aircraft.
The hydrogen peroxide tank, for energizing the turbopump, was mounted in the center
section bay on the right side of the aircraft. Like the lox and water/alcohol
tanks, it was filled from the right side of the aircraft, only.
View looking aft of the wing center section and fuselage center section of the X-1A as the aircraft was nearing final assembly. Visible on the left is the hydrogen peroxide
tank for the turbopump. The finned rectangular devices in front are batteries. Noteworthy is the actual wing center section with its seemingly endless bolt
and load-bearing plate assemblies. The wing, like the rest of the aircraft, was stressed to take a load of up to 18 gs.
Some propulsion system plumbing lines, electrical systems, and connectors were routed through the bay located in the area above the wing center section. Accouterments
found in this bay varied considerably from aircraft to aircraft. The hydrogen peroxide tank provided gas for the turbopump-which served to speed delivery of the
lox and waterlalcohol mix on to the XLR11 's four combustion chambers. The latter could be operated singly, in pairs, or all at once.
A ventral bay area just in front of the main gear well on the right side of the aircraft
served to house two 24 voltl35 amp batteries and their associated connectors.
Mounted just above that on a separate shelf was an MO-7/ARC-5 radio.
. When the NACNNASA initiated its X-1a modification program, one of the many
noteworthy changes included the installation of hundreds of pressure pickups
in each wing. The left wing, with panels removed for accessibility, is shown.
The wing trailing edge (second-generation aircraft shown) consisted of ffaps, ailerons, and a right aileron trim tab. Trese surfaces were simple one-piece units with simple
hinges to permit movement within prescribed limits. The ailerons were equipped with mass balances to alleviate ffutter anomalies, and the trim tab, located on the
inboard end of the right aileron, was electro-mechanically actuated via an arm/piano hinge assembly. All surfaces were tightly toleranced to prevent air leakage.
Both first- and second-generation (shown) X-Is used essentially the same airfoil (NACA 65-108) and what was, to all intents and purposes, essentially the same wing. The airfoil
was an excellent transonic design with good thickness/chord ratio numbers and enough internal volume to permit extremely rugged construction. The wing was, in fact,
stressed to 18 g's, which at the time of the birth of the X-I program, was almost certainly the strongest ever installed on an aircraft.
The X-I 's (second generation, shown) vertical fin and
its associated rudder were simple, rugged, single-
piece units with very high strength factors.
Both first- and second-generation (shown) X-Is used a very simple, single-piece trailing edge flap assembly that
was electro-mechanically deployed. Maximum deployment angle was approximately 60°. The flaps were
used almost exclusively as high drag devices to promote rapid speed decay during landing.
A large array of pressure pick-ups and thermocouples were installed in almost all the X-Is at one tinie or another (X-IB horizontal stabilizer, shown). These sensors generated
data that was relayed back to recording units mounted in either the nose or the center section equipment bay. Post-flight examination of the information
generated by these units provided a data base for measuring the dynamics of flight at transonic velocities and varying altitudes.
The horizontal stabilizer on both first- and second-generation (shown) X-Is was
adjustable from neutral to 4 (+ or -) 1/2
down to trim the aircraft longitudinally.
A switch on the control stick energized the stabilizer actuator.
A fairing covered the stabilizer hinge and actuator assembly which was mounted
inside the vertical fin root section. In the event of an electrical failure, the actuator
control valve could be operated by a lever on the left side of the cockpit.
Mass balances were installed on the elevators of both first- and second-generation
aircraft when it was discovered that flutter could be induced at transonic
speeds. Four such balance weights were installed on each elevator.
'" • a ~
. . .
. . .
t •• '"
. . -
The single-piece rudder was equipped with four cantilevered mass balances and a ground adjustable trim tab (not shown). It was hinged at three points. Rudder pedal movement
was imparted via an arm assembly at its base through a set of tensioned steel cables. The aerodynamic form of the rudder (and ailerons, and flaps) was determined
by proper shaping of a series of pressed aluminum ribs (and a spar assembly) which then were riveted to the external aluminum skin.
Loading of propellants and gases was accomplished through a series of connectors
located on the upper right side of each X-I. Required were lox, a water/alcohol
mix, nitrogen gas, and hydrogen peroxide (turbopump-equipped aircraft only).
The dorsal (top) and ventral spine fairings enclosed plumbing which routed propellants
from their respective tanks to the powerplant. Control cables, push-pull tubes,
and some electrical cables were simifarly routed.
The spiral-shaped nitrogen tube bundles utilized only on the first two first-generation aircraft saved significant space but proved extremely difficult to manufacture. The bundles
were placed at the respective rear and front ends of the lox and water/alcohol tanks at either end of the fuselage center section. Additional nitrogen was
carried in miscellaneous tanks in the nose. Nitrogen contained in these bundles was utilized to force propellants to the engine.
In the second-generation X-Is, the dorsally-mounted lox
line was sheathed in a zippered thermal blanket. Offset
routed around carrier aircraft attachment hooks.
400 350 300 150 200 250
TIME - SECONDS
30,000 FT LAUNCH FLIGHT PLAN
CLE.4N AIRPLANE CONFIGURATION
- - -- -+- - --
FULL THRUST CRUISE.J
I POWER TERMINATION
3/4 THRUST CRUISE--i
POWER TERMINATION I
HALF THRUST CRUISE-l
46,000 1.4 30
« 34,OUO 0.8
30,000 0.6 -10
The third first-generation X-I, 46-064 (left), was the first to be equipped with a turbopump. The specific model utilized on the second-generation aircraft was the 6M325CF-l
consisting of a fuel pump, an oxidizer pump, a turbine, a governor, an overspeed control, a gas generator, valves; tubing, and necessary wiring and switches. By passing
pressurized hydrogen peroxide through a manganese dioxide catalyst in the gas generator, oxygen and steam were generated which powered the pump's turbine wheel.
The XLRll was a bipropellant liquid rocket engine utillizing an alcohol/water mixture
as fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer. The fuel and oxidizer were forced either
by pressurized nitrogen or a turbopump to the engine combustion chambers.
The XLRll's four Chambers were closely stacked to provide minimal asymmetric thrust
anomalies. Regenerative cooling, wherein the propellants were circulated
around the combustion chambers before being combusted, was utilized.
The XLRII fit neatly into the X-l's empennage section.
Regenerative cooling lines are visible as ribbed tubes
running forward into the engine compartment.
The four XLRII combustion chambers fit flush against
the aft end of the fuselage. Three dump tubes for
lox, water/alcohol, and nitrogen are visible.
The configuration of the lox, water/alcohol, and
nitrogen dump tubes varied considerably from aircraff
to aircraft, and also from modification to modification.
A single dump tube installed on the aft lower fuselage section of the 8-29 carrier aircraft. This particular tube
appears to be optimized to accommodate the X-l's nitrogen gas dump tube. The plastic extensions routing
the residuals into the dump tubes normally burned away during engine operation.
Cameras, for photo documentation purposes, on
occasion, were mounted externally on the X-I s. One is
shown, though its exact purpose remains unidentilied.
Plastic extensions are seen as the intermediate tubing to ensure that residual lox, water/alcohol, and nitrogen gas
are routed into the dump tubes attached to the carrier aircraft. These dump tubes prevented dangerous
propellant accummulations in the carrier aircraft bomb bay during the ascent to launch.
XLRII combustion chambers in a first-generation X-I.
Visible inside each chamber is the propellant injector
unit for mixing the lox and water/alcohol.
There were many different test boom configurations utilized on the various X-Is, including this pitch and yaw vane
installation on the right wing tip of the X-I A. Size and placement varied with the requirement.
On some flights, no nose booms or pitot tubes were carried at all.
Boeing B-29, 45-21800. was by far the most-used of the two carrier aircraft eventually assigned to the X-I program.
This aircraft served the needs of both the first- and second-generation aircraft. The only other X-I transport
was Boeing EB-50A, 46-006, which was lost with the third generation X·I, 46-064.
A ladder was designed for the second-generation X-I s
for use on the ground. Pilot accouterments, including
the seat-pack type chute, were standard.
' . ; . , . ~ , " , , " ~ = : ' . ~ ~ . . . , , ; . . -
The X-IA during mating compatibility checks with B-29, 45-21800, at Bell during late 1952. B-29 modifications were numerous and included the installation of lox top-off tanks,
is dump lines for residual propellants, bomb bay cut-outs to accommodate the X-I 's horizontal stabilizers and elevators, and structural beef-up straps on each fuselage side
1. just aft of the wing trailing edge. The latter served to compensate for the loss of rigidity suffered with the removal of skin and stringers at the aft end of the bomb bay.
The X-IA at the moment of launch. B-29, 45-21800, was serving as the carrier aircraft. Visible under the B-29 are the lox, nitrogen, and hydrogen peroxide dump tubes as well
as the externa/lines attached to the empennage of the aircraft to handle residual propellants from its own top-off tanks. Noteworthy, and easily ascertained
in this view, is the fact the B-29's main gear well doors were removed for most of the X-I carrier missions.
In order to accommodate the second-generation X-Is as well as the first-, 8-29,
45-21800 was modified and updated a second time. Discernible is the special cutout
at the forward end of the bomb bay designed to accommodate the X-I noses.
The only other aircraft to carry any member of the X-I family was Boeing E8-50A, 46-006. This was to have become the preferred transport due to its more powerful engines
and consequently better performance, but loss of the aircraft, along with the third first-generation X-I, 46-064, on November 9, 1951, ended any plans for
it to replace 8-29, 45-21800. Like the 8-29, the EB-50A had had its main landing gear well doors removed.
The bomb bay modifications to 8-29, 45-21800, were numerous and extensive. Visible
on the right is the rarely seen ladder/elevator assembly that could be lowered into
position while the mated aircraft were in flight, thus permitting X-I cockpit access.
Bell test pilot Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin demonstrating ladderlelevator ass(1mbly
installed on t(le right forward end of the bomb bay of 8-29,45-21800. Goodlin is
entering the cockpit of X-I, 46-062. The hatch was locked in place after entry.
Another view of the forward pressure bulkhead modification of B-29, 45-21800,
required to accommodate the second-generation X-Is. A walkway permitted
cockpit access, thus allflviating the need for the ladderlelevator assembly.
The wing center section seriously limited the amount of recess available to accommodate the X-Is. Such clearances later would dictate several important physical aspects
of the second-generation aircraft. Visible in this view are the aft (nearest camera) and forward anti-sway snubbers, the support hook assembly (center), and
the forward bulkhead cut-out to accommodate the X-I noses. To the right of center is the unextended ladderlelevator assembly.
Detail of second-generation X-l in up-and-Iocked position. Visible are the forward hook
assembly, the lox top-off line and connect point, and the electrical umbilical. Small,
spring-loaded doors faired-over these openings at the moment of X-l release.
The fuselage length of the second-generation X-ls essentially was dictated by the length of the 8-29's bomb bay.
Additional factors included the aircraft's gross take-off weight limitations, and vertical clearances.
Visible in this view is the forward snubber with its rubber padded foot.
The anti-sway snubbers were hinge-mounted to beam structure on each side of the
8-29/8-50 bomb bay. As can be seen in this view, the snubbers had to be
moved to accommodate either the first- or second-generation X-ls.
View looking aft in the bomb bay of 8-29, 45-21800. Early snubber configuration is
shown. These later were deleted and replaced with steel tube snubbers that could
be more easily adjusted to accommodate X-l fuselage shape variables.
Checking the X-lA's compatibility. A single anti-sway
snubber can be seen protruding down just behind the
lift cables. Note marked contact point on fuselage.
The dorsal spine contained three small openings
covered by spring-loaded doors to accommodate the
two lift hook assemblies and the lox top-off connection.
3Y. The permanent lox (left) and nitrogen (right) tanks installed at Edwards AFB for use during the course of the various rocket-powered research aircraft programs conducted there.
Aircraft were pre-flight loaded near the tanks and then, as was the case of the X-Is, moved into position for loading aboard their respective carrier aircraft.
Because lox literally boiled off over time, the X-I 's lox tank was constantly replenished by the on-board top-off tanks prior to launch.
The B-29 control panel for monitoring propellant top-off and on-board propellant
quantities. Included were lox, nitrogen, and hydrogen peroxide supplies. Noteworthy
are altimeter and airspeed indicator on the right side of the panel.
Crew oxygen tanks were somewhat haphazardly mounted in the aft end 01 the B-29's
fuselage. Lying on its side in the center is the primary nitrogen gas supply
bottle. Visible in the far background are the lox top-off tanks.
Older verson of B-29 sub-panel to the left of the primary X-I panel. At the time, this
unit contained navigation system indicators, an altimeter, and an airspeed indicator.
Later, this area would be utilized lor crew member oxygen equipment.
The rack-mounted lox top-off tanks were completely encased in thermal blankets to
keep to a minimum lox loss due to temperature decay. Pumping equipment and
plumbing are visible between the two, which were accessible in flight.
........--", ~ . . L ./ _' •
Muroc Army Air Field on October 10, 1946, just a few days less than a year before "Chuck" Yeager's historic first supersonic flight. This later would be referred to as
"south base", becoming a secondary installation to the significantly newer and larger main base that would be built to the immediate northwest. "South base"
would, for years, be the facility assigned the various rocket aircraft research teams including those for the Bell X-I family.
Looking southeast, this view of the main base during the early 1950s shows Boeing B-29s, Boeing B-47s, and a single North American T-28 active on the ramp. The large
hangars in the far background remain in use to this very day. Almost due north of this area, though several miles distant, was a third Edwards installation referred to as
"North base". In later years, this would be occupied by the Central Intelligence Agency and several similar government entities, and utilized for highly classified programs.
Concerning references: Aerofax, Inc., in a conscientious effort to provide readers with the
most accurate and authentic monographic aircraft histories available in their price range, does
not print bibliographies in its Minigraph or Datagraph series. This measure is taken only to
preserve precious space in books that are optimized to offer a maximum amount of information
at minimal expense.
In general, however, our primary references are official, unclassified government documents,
official, unclassified private sector (company) documents, and authoritative civilian publications
such as Jane's All The World's Aircraft and" Aviation Week & Space Technology". Our photo
sources consist primarily of contributions by professionals and amateurs from around the world,
various government agencies, the aerospace industry, and our own in-house morgue.
Specific requests from Aerofax customers for titles utilized as information sources in our books
will be provided as time permits. Photos from our negative files also will be provided based
on availability and the willingness of the requestor to pay reproduction charges.
Thanks for your consideration,
Jay Miller, Publisher
AEROFAX, INC. is pleased to announce the release of the initial titles in its new DATAGRAPH
monographic aviation history series. These books are designed to accommodate aircraft histories
and related subject areas that are either too large for the smaller MINIGRAPH series or too small
for the larger, definitive AEROGRAPH series.
Like the MINIGRAPHS and AEROGRAPHS, the DATAGRAPH titles are designed to provide
exceptional subject coverage via numerous well-reproduced photographs, an extremely detailed
and comprehensive text, and extraordinary quality.
Each of these authoritative references has been created for the serious enthusiast and modeler
and is designed to provide unparalleled textual and pictorial detail not usually found in other
readily available books of this type. Each DATAGRAPH contains over 150 photos, fOld-out-type
multi-view drawings, color scheme information, systems drawings, and related reference material.
If you find the new DATAGRAPH series to your liking and would like to have your name added
to our mailing list to receive, free of charge, our quarterly AEROFAX NEWS, please drop us
a line at P.O. Box 200006, Arlington, Texas 76006. We would like to hear from you and would
particularly appreciate comments, criticisms, and suggestions for future titles.
AEROFAX also is in need of interesting, previously unpublished photos of aircraft for use
in forthcoming MINIGRAPH, DATAGRAPH, and AEROGRAPH titles. If you have such items
in your files, please cclnsider loaning them to AEROFAX so that others can see them, too. You
will, of course, be credited if your photo is used, and a free copy of the publication in which
it is used will be sent.
AEROFAX looks forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for you interest,
Jay Miller and
the AEROFAX, INC. Staff
H • 25,000 tt ~
t • 1347 br I
H = 11,500 tt
t = 1407 br
H = 6,500 tt
t = 1416 br
Lat. = 34
Long. = 117
ot io1tial explosion
PLOT OF X-1 A ACCIDENT ROUTE
The loss of the X-1A, 48-1384, on August 8,
1955 eventually led to the discovery that Ulmer
leather when in contact with liquid oxygen
created a highly volatile gasket assembly. This
scenario also led to the destruction of the
second Bell X-2, 46-675, the X-1D, 48-1386,
and the third Bell X-1, 46-064. Details of this
anomaly can be found on page 18.