Aircraft, Airport, Aircraft Specification

Breaking the Sound Barrier – The Bell X-1

Breaking the Sound Barrier – The Bell X-1

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.

This aircraft was originally called the XS-1. It had four chambers, and each chamber could give out 1,500 pounds of thrust. This Rocket Plane built in the shape of a bullet, burned up to 600 gallons of fuel in the span of three minutes at full power.

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 nicknamed the X-1 “Glamorous Glennis”

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.

The B-50 Mothership

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

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