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X Planes

The X-planes are a series of experimental United States aircraft and rockets, used to test and evaluate new technologies and aerodynamic concepts. They have an X designator, which indicates the research mission within the US system of aircraft designations.
The first, the Bell X-1, became well known in 1947 after it became the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight.
Most of the X-planes have been operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) or, later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), often in conjunction with the United States Air Force.
The majority of X-plane testing has occurred at Edwards Air Force Base. Some of the X-planes have been well publicized, while others have been developed in secrecy. Most X-planes are not expected to go into full-scale production.
Lifting Bodies on Lakebed
303 Media in collectionpage 1 of 4

X-1-3 Being Mated To EB-50A Superfortress

(November 9, 1951) The third X-1 (46-064), known as "Queenie," is mated to the EB-50A (46- 006) at Edwards AFB, California. Following a captive flight on November 9, 1951, both aircraft were destroyed... more

X-15 #2 just after launch

Description: The X-15 #2 (56-6671) launches away from the B-52 mothership with its rocket engine ignited. The white patches near the middle of the ship are frost from the liquid oxygen used in the propulsion sy... more

Lifting Bodies on Lakebed

(November 30, 1968) The wingless lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. From left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10.... more

aahs_p002036

Bell XFM-1 Artist's conception in flight

aahs_p002033

Bell XFM-1 Right Front Above view, in flight

aahs_p002019

Bell XFM-1 Right Side, Low, Showing Turbocharger

aahs_p002052

Bell XFM-1 Head on View showing nacelle mounted cannons

XB-32 model wing with 15% chord sealed gap aileron. Flaps extended to 40 degrees. The first wind-tunnel report published by Ames Covered the XB-32 Test in the 7-by-10 No. ! and was authored by Roy P. Jackson and George L. Smith Jr. ARC-1969-AAL-1443

XB-32 model wing with 15% chord sealed gap aileron. Flaps extended to 40 degrees. The first wind-tunnel report published by Ames Covered the XB-32 Test in the 7-by-10 No. ! and was authored by Roy P. Jackson a... more

XB-42 Ship 1 Front Quarter

aahs_p006099.26 May 44

XB-42 Ship 1 Rear Quarter

aahs_p009890.26 May 44

Bell XP–59A Airacomet in the Altitude Wind Tunnel

The secret test of the Bell YP–59A Airacomet in the spring of 1944 was the first investigation in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory’s new Altitude Wind T... more

XB-42 Side

aahs_p005703.Aug 1945

XB-42 Ship 2 Side View

aahs_p01323331 May 45

XB-42 Front

aahs_p005700.24 Sep 45

XB-42 Rear Quarter

aahs_25244.24 Sep 45

XB-42 Rear

aahs_p005702.24 Sep 45

XB-42 Front Quarter

aahs_p005699..24 Sep 45

XB-42 Ship 2 Rear Quarter

NARA RG-18-WP..31 May 45

XB-42 Ship 2 Front Quarter

aahs_p005699 (1).31 May 45

XB-35 Wing Structure

NARA B26011..22 Nov 46..XB-35 typical outer wing structure..32310AC

Standing left to right alongside of Bell XS-1 are: Captain Charles E. Yeager, Major Gus Lundquist and Captain James Fitzgerald

Photograph shows "Chuck" Yeager, Gus Lundquist, and Jim Fitzgerald wearing a flight suit, standing next to the Bell XS-1 rocket research airplane "Glamorous Glennis."

X-1-1 In Flight

(1947) The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1-1 (#46-062) in flight. The shock wave pattern in the exhaust plume is visible. The X-1 series aircraft were air-launched from a modified Boeing B-29 or B-50 Superfortres... more

XB-42A Rear View

aahs_p0132238.22 Jul 47

XB-42A Rear Quarter

aahs_p0132237..22 Jul 47

XB-42A Front Quarter 2

aahs_p013234 22 Jul 47

XB-42A Front Quarter

aahs_p013235 22 Jul 47

XB-42A Front View

aahs_p013236.22 Jul 47

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.Modified Bell X-1 mode... more

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

Bell X-1 Research Model on Single Support Strut in 7 x 10 Foot Wind Tunnel

Modified Bell X-1 model pioneered variable-sweep studies in 1947. Photograph published in Sixty Years of Aeronautical Research 1917-1977 By David A. Anderton. A NASA publication, page 52.

X-1 On Display

Description (1948) A Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1 series aircraft on display at an Open House at NACA Muroc Flight Test Unit or High-Speed Flight Research Station hangar on South Base of Edwards Air Force Base... more

X-1-2 with Pilots Robert Champine Herb Hoover

(September 1, 1949) The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1-2 and two of the NACA pilots that flew the aircraft. The one on the left is Robert Champine with the other being Herbert Hoover. The X-1-2 was also equipped... more

X-1-2 on Ramp with Boeing B-29

(1949) The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1-2 sitting on the ramp at NACA High- Speed Flight Research Station with the Boeing B-29 launch ship behind. The B-29 was fondly referred to as "Fertile Myrtle."... more

XB-51 Side

NARA B26504..20 Sep 49

XB-51 High Front Quarter

NARA B26503..19 Sep 49

XB-51 High Side

NARA B26519..19 Sep 49

XB-51 High Nose 1

NARA B26507..20 Sep 49

XB-51 High Rear Quarter

NARA B26506..20 Sep 49

XB-51 Take Off 1

NARA B26524..8 Oct 49

XB-51 High Rear

NARA B26518..26 Sep 49

XB-51 Low Front Quarter 1

NARA B26505..20 Sep 49

XB-51 Low Nose

NARA B26512..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Side 2

NARA B26515..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Two Together

NARA B26522..29 Jun 50

XB-51 Taxi

NARA B26520..29 Jun 50

XB-51 Landing 2

NARA B26536..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Take Off 3

NARA B26528..29 Jun 50

aahs_p002034

Bell XFM-1 Left rear Quarter, showing 3 bladed Pusher Props

XB-35 Nose Close Up

NARA B26010..30 April 46..A.M. Schwartz, Northrop chief of structures in bubble..31232AC

XB-42A Side view

aahs_p0132239.22 Jul 47

XB-51 High Nose 2

NARA B26511..9 March 50

XB-51 Front Quarter 1

NARA B26510..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Take Off 2

NARA B26526..25 Apr 50

XB-51 In Flight

NARA B26533..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Rear

NARA B26514..9 Mar 50

aahs_p002045

Bell XFM-1 Left Side view

XB-51 Rear Quarter

NARA B26513..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Landing 1

NARA B26535..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Landing 3

NARA B26539..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Taxi with Chute 1

NARA B26540..29 Jun 50

XB-51 Taxi with Chute 2

NARA B26541..29 June 50

XB-51 Front Quarter 2

NARA B26516..9 Mar 50

XB-51 Two Ship Flyby

NARA B26545..11 Jul 51

XB-51 Take Off 4

NARA B26529..12 Dec 51

XB-51 Low Front Quarter 2

NARA B26521..11 Jul 51

XB-51 Take Off 5

NARA B26530..20 Dec 51

NACA Aircraft on Ramp: X-Planes

Description (1952) NACA High Speed Flight Station aircraft at South Base. Clockwise from far left: D-558-II, XF-92A, X-5, X-1, X-4, and D-558-I...Image # E-842

X-2 with Collapsed Nose Wheel

(1952) This photograph shows the X-2 #2 with a collapsed nose landing gear after landing on the first glide flight at Edwards Air Force Base. The aircraft pitched at landing, slid along its main skid and contac... more

B-52 with X-15

NARA RG342-B..17 July 62, White's record flight

XB-51 JATO Take Off

NARA B26523..13 Apr 53..Edwards..USAF photo by SSGT Joseph A. Wolff

Stan Butchart climbing into B-47. E54-1317

Stan Butchart climbing into B-47.

X-1E Loaded in B-29 Mothership on Ramp

(1955) The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1E airplane being loaded under the mothership, Boeing B-29. The X-planes had originally been lowered into a loading pit and the launch aircraft towed over the pit, where t... more

X-5

Description This NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station photograph of the X-5 was taken at the South Base of Edwards Air Force Base. The photograph, a multiple exposure, illustrates the X-5's variably swept wi... more

X-1E Loaded in B-29 Mothership on Ramp

Description (1955) The Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1E airplane being loaded under the mothership, Boeing B-29. The X planes had originally been lowered into a loading pit and the launch aircraft towed over the ... more

X-2 After Drop from B-50 Mothership

(1955) The Bell Aircraft Company X-2 (46-674) drops away from its Boeing B-50 mothership in this photo. Lt. Col. Frank "Pete" Everest piloted 674 on its first unpowered flight on August 5 1954. He mad... more

X-1E On Rogers Dry Lake With Collapsed Nose Gear

(June 18, 1956) This photo was taken June 18, 1956 on Rogers Dry Lake bed after Flight 7 of the Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1E with NACA High-Speed Flight Station test pilot Joseph Joe Walker at the controls. T... more

X-3 on Lakebed

Description (1956) In this NACA High-Speed Flight Station photograph, the X-3 Stiletto is seen on the lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base. The X-3 Stiletto was a single-place jet aircraft with a slender fuselage ... more

Vought XF-8U Crusader

A technician prepares dynamic models of the Bell X-1E and the Vought XF-8U Crusader for wind tunnel testing in 1957. The Crusader was then the Navy's fastest aircraft (maximum speed Mach 1.75 at 35,000 feet). .... more

Bell X-1E and Vought XF-8U Dynamic Models in 1957

L57-660 A technician prepares dynamic models of the Bell X-1E and the Vought XF-8U Crusader for wind tunnel testing in 1957. The Crusader was then the Navy's fastest aircraft- maximum speed Mach 1.75 at 35,000 ... more

Overhead view of Bell XV-3 Convertiplane

Overhead view of Bell XV-3 Convertiplane. First tilt rotor tested in the 40 x 80 wind tunnel. Transition aerodynamics studied; shown in hover mode. Don Richey

"Little Joe"

Description: (1958) A photo of the X-1E with pilot Joe Walker suited up at the NASA High-Speed Flight Station, Edwards, California. The dice and "Little Joe" are prominently displayed under the cockpi... more

Joe Walker in pressure suit with X-1E

Description: Joe Walker in a pressure suit beside the X-1E at the NASA High-Speed Flight Station, Edwards, California. The dice and "Little Joe" are prominently displayed under the cockpit area. (Litt... more

X-15 Studies at Langley, 1958

(January 18, 1958) Attitude control simulator for X-15 studies at Langley, 1958. ..Image # : L-1958-00114

North American X-15 Model

A one-twentieth scale model of the X-15, originally suspended beneath the wing of a B-52, is observed by a scientist as it leaves the bomber model in tests to determine the release characteristics and drop moti... more

B-29 #800 with X-1B attached taxi's in off of the lakebed. E58-3663A

B-29 #800 with X-1B attached taxi's in off of the lakebed.

NASA Armstrong Celebrates 70 Years of Flight Research

The X-1B reaction control system thrusters are tested in 1958 and later proven on the X-15 as a way to control a vehicle in the absence of dynamic pressure. Monroe Conner

Pilot Neil Armstrong and X-15 #1

(November 30, 1959) Dryden pilot Neil Armstrong is seen here next to the X-15 ship 1 (56-6670) after a research flight. The X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft 50 feet long with a wingspan of 22 feet. It was a m... more