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X-1B Aircraft Cockpit and Instrument Panel X-1B Aircraft Cockpit and Instrument Panel

Photo Number: E-02256
Photo Date: 1956

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The instrument panel of the Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1B was quite conventional in appearance and fairly typical of 1950s vintage research aircraft. Primary flight instrumentation was centrally mounted, with propulsion system and test equipment switches and instruments scattered throughout available space. Foot pedals and a center stick with no side controls were all part of the package in the cockpit. NACA High-Speed Flight Station technicians maintained the instrumentation in the aircraft.

The Bell X-1B was a second-generation X-1 used by the U.S. Air Force for pilot familiarization before being turned over to NACA in December 1954. The X-1B had a modified fuselage with greater capacity for fuel tanks, an improved cockpit, and a turbopump fuel system as compared with the X-1. The NACA used the X-1B primarily for aerodynamic heating and reaction-control research from 1956 to 1958.

The aircraft was fitted with special instrumentation for exploratory aerodynamic heating tests. It had over 300 thermocouples installed on it. The X-1B was the first aircraft to fly with a reaction-control system; a prototype of the reaction-control system used on the X-15 and other piloted test aircraft.

The X-1B was given to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Dayton, Ohio, on January 27, 1959, for preservation and display. This aircraft completed a total of 27 glide and powered flights by eight U.S. Air Force and two NACA test pilots. Second-generation X-1 aircraft were 35.8 feet long and had a wingspan of approximately 28 feet.


Keywords: X-1B; Bell Aircraft Company; NACA; U.S. Air Force; Air Force Museum; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; heating research; reaction controls; NACA High-Speed Flight Station

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
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