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The X-1E made 26 flights and a captive flight with two NACA High-Speed Flight Station test pilots. It flew to a Mach of 2.24 and
an altitude of 73,458 feet. Like its predecessors is was air launched from a Boeing B-29.
During March 1954 the "new" X-1-2 officially became the X-1E, and by mid-1955, most of the modification work had been completed at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards, California.
The modification work was performed by Bell Aircraft Corporation and NACA High-Speed Flight Station personnel at the NACA facility at Edwards Air Force Base. It included a new cockpit and canopy configuration which was required to accommodate the NACA-specified ejection seat, in addition to a new wing. The ejection seat was the surplus seat from the second Northrop X-4, 46-677. Though rocket-propelled, the seat was rudimentary both in design and performance and was considered by NACA officials to be the minimum acceptable design for safe egress. The high-technology wings made by Stanley Aviation Corporation were only 3 3/8 inches at the thickest point and carried 343 strain and temperature gauges to measure structural loads and aerodynamic heating. Their thinness (4 percent of chord) permitted the X-1E to fly almost twice as fast as the X-1-2. In December 1957 twin ventral fins were installed to improve directional stability at high Mach number.
The X-1E was powered by a Reaction Motors, Inc. LR-8-RM-5, four chamber rocket engine. As with all X-1 rocket engines, this engine did not have a throttle, but instead, depended on ignition of any one chamber or group of chambers to vary speed.
The X-1E, minus its added ventral fins, is mounted on a pylon in front of the main building (4800) at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California.