×
Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Global Military Ranks
HOME
AVIATION / AEROSPACE
MODERN AIR FORCES
COUNTRIES
MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE
BY CONFLICT
BY TYPE
BY DECADE
COLD WAR
X-PLANE

Bell X-2 (Starbuster)


Experimental Research Aircraft


Aviation / Aerospace

1 / 1
Image from the NASA image archives - www.NASA.gov

Like other American 1950s research aircraft, the Bell X-2 proved critical in furthering the frontiers of powered, manned high-speed flight.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/26/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Bell Aircraft Company was once again contracted by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and the United States Air Force (USAF) to provide a high-speed, rocket-powered research aircraft following their success with the Bell X-1 project of the late 1940s. This provided the impetus for the subsequent Bell X-2 to appear in the mid-1950s and continue the rigorous flight testing regime into the Mach 2 / Mach 3 speed range. The X-2 was essentially an evolved, more capable version of the X-1. A pair of X-2 aircraft were completed for the tests ahead and the product nicknamed "Starbuster".

To power the new aircraft the two-chamber, variable thrust Curtiss-Wright XLR-25 rocket engine of up to 15,000 lb output was installed and mated to throttle controls (controls which the X-1 lacked). Aerodynamic refinements were present about the sleeker, slimmer fuselage and a low-mounted, swept-wing mainplane assembly was used (unlike the straight wings of the X-1). The tail remained a single vertical fin with mid-mounted horizontal planes though all leading edges were also swept.

As with the X-1, the X-2 was an air-launched vehicle though this time a specially-modified Boeing B-50 Superfortress substituted for the original B-29 mothership. Also as in the X-1, the X-2 completed its first test flights solely under glide power with the first undertaken on June 27th, 1952 - landings aided by an integrated wheeled undercarriage arrangement. The first rocket-powered flight did not come until November 18th, 1955.

The X-2 became a record setter in its own right when it achieved a new speed record of Mach 2.87. It also became the first powered, manned aircraft to break the 100,000 foot altitude ceiling when it reached 126,200 feet on September 7th, 1956 (test pilot Iven Kincheloe at the controls). With some modifications added for Mach 3+ flight controlling, the X-2 then became the first aircraft to exceed Mach 3.0 on September 27th, 1956 (test pilot Milburn Apt). However, during this same flight, the aircraft experienced "inertia coupling" which spun the rocket plane out of control, killing Apt during his attempted ejection on May 12th, 1953.

Apt's death delayed further work involving the X-2 and the product was formally written off altogether in anticipation of the arrival of the more advanced North American X-15 rocket research aircraft arriving in the late part of the decade. Three of its kind would be built and the program would provide additional high speed data until its retirement in December of 1968.

As it stood, only the first X-2 prototype achieved any powered flights - 10 total - with seven glide flights to its name from the period of June 1952 to September 1956. The second prototype never completed its only powered flight and added three glide flights to its record before the end.


Specifications



Year:
1955
Status
Retired, Out-of-Service
Crew
1
[ 2 Units ] :
Bell Aircraft - USA
National flag of United States United States
- X-Plane / Developmental
Length:
37.73 ft (11.5 m)
Width:
32.15 ft (9.8 m)
Height:
11.81 ft (3.6 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Bell X-2 (Starbuster) production model)
Empty Weight:
12,346 lb (5,600 kg)
MTOW:
24,912 lb (11,300 kg)
(Diff: +12,566lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Bell X-2 (Starbuster) production model)
1 x Curtiss-Wright XLR25 rocket engine developing 15,000 lb of thrust.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Bell X-2 (Starbuster) production model)
Max Speed:
2,094 mph (3,370 kph; 1,820 kts)
Service Ceiling:
126,198 feet (38,465 m; 23.9 miles)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Bell X-2 (Starbuster) production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
None. Internal provision housing flight data and test equipment.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Bell X-2 (Starbuster) production model)
X-2 - Base Series Designation; two examples completed with the second aircraft lost to an in-flight accident.
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies


The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world and WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft.


Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-