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

Photo Number: E-4097
Photo Date: 1957

Formats: 539x480 JPEG Image (101 KBytes)
1150x1024 JPEG Image (542 KBytes)
3000x2670 JPEG Image (4,063 KBytes)

The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1B rocket-powered research aircraft, one of the growth versions of the original X-1 series, is shown in this 1957 photo on the bed of Rogers Dry Lake adjacent to the NACA High-Speed Flight Station. The X-1B offered an ideal testbed for a test reaction control installation. In November 1957, NACA technicians finished installing reaction controls on the X-1B. NACA test pilot Neil A. Armstrong made three flights in the airplane to experience the reaction controls performance. Since cracks in the fuel tanks of the X-1B forced its grounding in 1958, reaction control research shifted to the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.

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; Rogers Dry Lake; NACA High-Speed Flight Station; Neil A. Armstrong; Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
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