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The X-2 was a swept-wing, rocket-powered aircraft designed to fly faster than three times the speed of sound. Built by Bell Aircraft Co. for NACA (now NASA) and the U.S. Air Force, it was flown to investigate the problems of aerodynamic heating as well as stability and control effectiveness at high altitudes and speeds in excess of Mach 3. There were two X-2s built, constructed of K-monel steel, with an ejectable nose capsule rather than an ejection seat, and skid type landing gear to make room for more fuel. It was air-launched from a modified Boeing B-50 Superfortress bomber.

The X-2 #1 (46-674) made its first unpowered glide flight on Aug. 5 1954. This aircraft made a total of seventeen flights before
it was lost on Sept. 27 1956. Its pilot, Capt. Milburn Apt, USAF, had flown to a record speed of Mach 3.2 or 2,094 mph thereby becoming the first person to exceed Mach 3.

The X-2 #2 (46-675) was lost in an inflight explosion while at the Bell plant during captive flight trials and was jettisoned into Lake Ontario in 1953.

DFRC Photo # Photo Date Image Description
  Skip links in main table X-2 Photo Collection Contact Sheet
E56-2685 November 21, 1956 Wreckage of the X-2 rocket plane was taken to NACA's High Speed Flight Station for analysis following the 1956 crash that killed Air Force pilot Capt. Mel Apt.
ED06-0174-1 1954/1956 X-2 Number 1 (#674) landing with skids deployed
ET-128 1955/1956 X-2 Number 1 (#674) in flight over Southern California
E-5749 1960 X-2 on ramp
E-2820 1956 X-2 in flight after drop from B-50 mothership
E-2822 1956 X-2 in flight
E-749 1952 X-2 on lakebed after landing on skids
E-5743 1956 X-2 on ramp with B-50 mothership and support crew

Last Modified: September 21, 2006
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