Bell X-1B

  • By

The X-1B was one of a series of rocket-powered experimental airplanes designed to investigate supersonic flight problems. The X-1B’s flight research primarily related to aerodynamic heating and the use of small “reaction” rockets for directional control.

The X-1B made its first powered flight in October 1954. A few months later, the U.S. Air Force transferred the X-1B to the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), predecessor to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), which conducted the heating and control tests. The X-1B tests played an important role in developing the control systems for the later X-15.

On test missions, the X-1B was carried under a "mother" airplane and released between 25,000-35,000 feet. After release, the rocket engine fired under full throttle for less than five minutes. After all fuel (an alcohol-water mixture) and liquid oxygen had been consumed, the pilot glided the airplane to earth for a landing.

The X-1B made its last flight in January 1958, and it was transferred to the museum a year later.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Engine: Reaction Motors XLR-11-RM-6 four-chamber rocket engine of 6,000 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: 1,650 mph
Maximum altitude: 90,000 feet
Landing speed: 170 mph
Weight: 16,590 lbs. loaded

Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery

All visitors may be screened with a metal detector upon entry. In addition, all bags are subject to search and may be placed through an X-Ray machine. Weapons are not permitted including pocket knives.
  • Visitor Photography Notice

    Notice: Visitors may be filmed, photographed or recorded by the U.S. Air Force for educational and promotional uses, including for posting on public websites and social media.  
    Individuals are permitted to take their own photographs or videos while touring the museum.

 

Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.