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Bell X-1B

Bell X-1B in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Bell X-1B in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Bell X-1B in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Bell X-1B in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

Restoration staff move the Bell X-1B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 13, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Popp)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit view in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit view in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit view in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit view in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit view in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit view in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell X-1B at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Bell X-1B underneath its B-29 carrier aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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The Bell X-1B underneath its B-29 carrier aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ground test of the X-1B’s rocket engine. (NASA photo)
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Ground test of the X-1B’s rocket engine. (NASA photo)

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

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