The Rocket Plane
There were not many Aircraft in the 1940’s that could boast of being able to fly faster than sound. On October 14, 1947 the Bell X-1 has gone on record as being the first Rocket Plane to break the Mach 1 barrier. The Bell X-1 was one out of only three built under the cover of a supersonic project for high-speed research.
50 Caliber bullet fuselage shape
The plane had very thin wings even though this was before the time when supersonic planes were being modeled. It also had a fuselage shaped like a 50 caliber bullet and this shape led to the fuselage that covered the largest part of the cockpit canopy. What stood out with the Bell X-1 was the way that the horizontal tail could be realigned to multiple positions while flying.
Chuck Yeager piloted this plane and found that the adjustable tail helped as a last minute back-up for the pitch control, helping him to get the X-1 to fly so fast that it broke the sound barrier.
The Mothership B-29 and B-50 Superfortress
The X-1 had a very limited endurance, so it used to be lifted to a height of 20,000 feet with the help of a B-29 or B-50 Superfortress. After reaching the 20,000 feet, the X-1 would be dropped from the belly of the B-29 Bomber, freely allowing the X-1 to ignite the rocket engine.
Of the three planes produced, the Bell X-1 has been kept in Washington D. C. at the National Air and Space Museum. The second plane renamed X-1E can be found at the Edwards Air Force Base. The third plane was wiped-out in 1951 after an explosion on the ground.
Chuck Yeager takes on the first supersonic flight