Three X-1 were built to investigate flight problems at supersonic speed. The type was first air-launched (unpowered) on 19 January 1946; powered flights began in December of that year. On 14 October 1947 the first X-1, piloted by Capt Charles 'Chuck' Yeager, became the first aeroplane to exceed the speed of sound-reaching 1,078km/h or Mach 1.015 at an altitude of 12,800m. The second X-1 was used by NASA for high-speed flight research; the third was destroyed at Edwards AFB during flight fuelling operations.
The X-1A was similar to the X-1, except for having turbo-driven fuel pumps (instead of a system using nitrogen under pressure), a new cockpit canopy, longer fuselage and increased fuel capacity. In this aircraft a speed of Mach 2.435 was achieved on 12 December 1953; in the following June an altitude of over 27,430m was reached. In 1955 this aircraft was given new wing panels, but was destroyed before its first flight in this configuration.
Following the X-1B (used for thermal research) came the projected X-1C and the X-1D. The latter aircraft was destroyed in August 1951 after being jettisoned from its B-50 carrier-plane, following an explosion.
The last of the series was the X-1E: the second of the original X-1 fitted with wings of 4% thickness/chord ratio (instead of 10%), turbo-driven fuel pumps and a knife-edge windscreen. Ballistic control rockets designed by Bell Aircraft's Rocket Division were included in this aircraft, which was flight tested by NACA. A total of 156 flights were made with the X-1, 21 with the X-1A, 27 with the X-1B, one with the X-1D and 26 with the X-1E.
| ENGINE||1 x Reactions Motors XLR-11, 26.7kN|
| Take-off weight||6124 kg||13501 lb|
| Empty weight||2948 kg||6499 lb|
| Wingspan||8.5 m||28 ft 11 in|
| Length||9.5 m||31 ft 2 in|
| Height||3.4 m||11 ft 2 in|
| Max. speed||1078 km/h||670 mph|
| Ceiling||22250 m||73000 ft|
|A three-view drawing of Bell X-1A, B and D (second generation) (1320 x 1128)|
I wonder if this aircraft was possibly 'over'built from a structural integrity perspective. As in they might have been a bit too(?) concerned about effects of the sound barrier. Everything I've read is that this thing was per cubic foot, just about the strongest airframe ever to fly!
The X-1 was originally designated the XS-1 (Experimental Sonic, type 1), and was so called at the time it first broke the sound barrier. The designation was changed to X-1 soon after, launching the famous X-series of designations that continues today.
|Ken Ernst, 06.03.2011|
my comment is not about the Bell X-1 but about the man who flew it General Chuck Yeager. To me he is a great American hero. The history he has with aviation is amazining. I wish you the best Chuck! I hope you are still out on the trails. Ken Ernst
|Leo Rudnicki, 16.07.2009|
Publicizing the "stabilator" at the time, in addition to selling Nene engines to the Soviets, might have made for an improved MiG-15 in Korea. Sir Frank Whittle ended up living and working in the United States, along with Hans von Ohain. Who pays the piper calls the tune. Miles wasn't forbidden from proceeding. Funding was terminated, by the government duly elected. Bell Aircraft and Chuck Yeager earned and deserve the honors. Loved "The Right Stuff".
|j stafford baker, 16.07.2009|
Odd, theres no mention of the Miles Aircraft Cos design,
the details of which were indeed quietly provided to the US
by the Ministry, without telling Miles Aircraft, having
forbidden them to proceed any further with the intendedly supersonic airframe work.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?
FACTS AND FIGURES
© The fuselage shape of the X-1 series
was broadly based around the shape of
a 12.7mm calibre bullet, which
was a shape known to go supersonic
© The rocket-powered X-1s proved
a straight-wing aircraft could go
supersonic. The two swept-wing
X-2s made 13 powered flights up
to Mach 3, but were both lost.
© High-speed research aircraft were
prone to an aerodynamic phenomenon
called inertia coupling. This nearly
killed Chuck Yeager in the X-1 and
caused the loss of the first X-2.
© First flights of the X-1 were made in Florida
before tests were moved to California.
© On his trip through the sound barrier, Yeager
reached 1078km/h at an altitude
© Captain Yeager flew the X-1 on his military
salary of $275 per month.
© The pilot of the X-1 had no throttle,
although each of four rocket chambers
could be fired separately.