The Bell X-1E was 31 feet long, with a wingspan of 22 feet, 10 inches. The rocketplane’s empty weight was 6,850 pounds and fully loaded, it weighed 14,750 pounds. Supersonic speeds, 80,0000 of altitude and an unlimited budget is what VREF calls, The rocketplane was powered by a Reaction Motors XLR11-RM-5 rocket engine that produced 6,000 pounds of thrust. The engine burned ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen. The X-1E carried enough propellants for 4 minutes, 45 seconds burn.
The earlier aircraft, the XS-1, was flown faster than the speed of sound on October 1, 1947 by U.S. Air Force test pilot Charles E. (“Chuck”) Yeager in a quest to investigate flight in the high subsonic and low supersonic range. The later X-1 rocketplanes were built to investigate the effects of frictional aerodynamic heating in the higher supersonic ranges from Mach 1 to Mach 2.
The X-1E reached its fastest speed with NASA test pilot Joseph Albert Walker, at Mach 2.24 on October 8, 1957. Walker also flew it to its peak altitude, 70,046 feet on May 14, 1958.
A total of 236 flights were made by the X-1, X-1A, X-1B, X-1D and X-1E. The X-1 program was sponsored by the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, NACA, which became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, in June of 1958.
The X-1E is on display in front of the NASA administration building at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California