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X-1B on Lakebed X-1B on Lakebed

Photo Number: E-2539
Photo Date: 1956

Formats: 539x480 JPEG Image (110 KBytes)
1150x1024 JPEG Image (582 KBytes)
3000x2670 JPEG Image (4,508 KBytes)

One of three second generation X-1 aircraft built by Bell Aircraft Corporation is seen here parked on Rogers Dry Lake. The Bell X-1B, along with its sister ship’s, the X-1A and X-1D, had better propulsion systems, greater fuel capacity, a more traditionally designed cockpit and canopy, and almost a five-foot longer fuselage than the original X-1 aircraft. In all, 10 pilots--eight Edwards Air Force and two NACA High-Speed Flight Station--flew 27 flights in the X-1B between September 24, 1954 and January 23, 1958.

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.

NASA Photo by: NACA/NASA photo

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

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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