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The X-1E, the last of the X-1 aircraft series, was used to obtain in-flight data at twice the speed of sound, with particular emphasis placed on investigating the improvements achieved with the high-speed wing. The airplane was the first aircraft to fly supersonically with a 4% wing, and thus the first to prove the high-mach capability and adequate stability using a thin airfoil section.

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.

DFRC Photo # Photo Date Image Description
  Skip links in main table X-1E Photo Collection Contact Sheet
EC96-43434-7 February 1996 X-1E on Display Stand at Dryden
EC96-43421-1 February 21, 1996 The X-1E guards NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's main building.
EC88-0138-1 1988 X-1E on Display Stand at Dryden
E55-02072 1955 X-1E Loaded in B-29 Mothership on Ramp
E-3363 1958 X-1E with Pilot Joe Walker
E-2509 1955 X-1E Being Loaded on B-29 Mothership
E-2392 1956 X-1E Engine Ground Test Run
E-2369 1956 X-1E on Lakebed with Collapsed Nose Gear
E-2071 1955 X-1E Loaded in B-29 Mothership on Ramp
E-1927 1955 X-1E on Lakebed
E-1920 1955 X-1E on Lakebed

Additional Information

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.

Bell X-1 series aircraft description

Last Modified: October 7, 2004
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