Aviation & Aerospace Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks U.S. Military Pay Special Forces DoD Dictionary (Alpha-to-Zulu) Military Alphabet Code

Bell X-14 (Type 68)

Experimental VTOL Aircraft

United States | 1957

"The Bell X-14 VTOL test platform had an amazingly long life spanning from the late 1950s into the early 1980s."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/24/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) with transitioning to conventional forward flying had filled the minds of aviation engineers for decades before the jet engine made such though possible. Bell Aircraft developed its Type 68 along these lines for testing by the United States Air Force (USAF) and NASA during the 1950s with the goal of utilizing a vectored thrust arrangement to provide the lift needed in taking off, landing, and hovering while also adapting the aircraft to conventional horizontal flight. While only one Type 68 was built for the program the vehicle generally flew trouble-free and was not retired until a crash in May of 1981. It was given the formal x-plane designation of "X-14".

To expedite construction and development of the vehicle, the Bell team delivered a rather gangly-looking aircraft that featured an open-air cockpit, long landing gear legs, low-mounted wing mainplanes, and dual engine layout consisting of a pair of British Armstrong Siddeley "Viper 8" turbojets rated at 1,750 lb thrust (each). The basic shape was formed from the body sections of a Beechcraft Bonanza civilian aircraft and a T-34 Mentor military trainer - both originally prop-powered airframes. Thrust deflectors were added to serve in guiding the resultant engine thrust forces in the required directions depending on the flight action at hand. A pair of circular intake openings dominated the nose section of the fuselage. Fuel tanks were fitted externally under each wing. Unfortunately for the pilot, no ejection seat was fitted as a weight-saving measure.

First flight of the X-14 was recorded on February 19th, 1957 and this accomplished the required vertical takeoff and landing action with a hovering effect managed in-between. The transition to forward flying was added in a test flight recorded on May 24th, 1958. In 1959, the aircraft was delivered to NASA for further testing and had its British engines replaced with General Electric J85 models producing the revised "X-14A" designation. Despite its appearance, the X-14 actually proved a valuable platform for VTOL research considering the Cold War was rife with VTOL projects in both the United States and Europe. NASA astronauts also trained some on the X-14 when personnel were expected to land the Lunar Lander on the surface of the moon during the Apollo rocket age.

Another engine change - this to the J85-GE-19 series - begat the revised designation of "X-14B" during 1971 which also saw an upgraded avionics suite added with fly-by-wire function. X-14B was a NASA test regular until it crashed on landing in a May 29th, 1981 accident - however, the crash yielded no injuries but did mark the X-14 as irreparable and the product's test life formally ended.

Only the three aforementioned designations were ever realized. A dedicated trainer was entertained under the "X-14T" designation but never furthered. Likewise, the "X-14C" was to include a more conventional enclosed cockpit but never evolved beyond the early design stage. The sole X-14 (X-14B) example was reclaimed from a scrapyard during 1999 by a private collector with the intent of bringing the aircraft back to showpiece condition.

Performance specifications for the X-14A (with British Viper engines installed) included a maximum speed of 172 miles per hour, a range out to 300 miles, and a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. Dimensions included a length of 7.6 meters, a wingspan of 10.4 meters, and a height of 2.4 meters.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Bell X-14 (Type 68) Experimental VTOL Aircraft.
2 x Armstrong Siddeley Viper 8 (later General Electric J85) turbojet engines developing 1,750 lb of thrust each.
172 mph
277 kph | 150 kts
Max Speed
19,997 ft
6,095 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
300 miles
482 km | 260 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Bell X-14 (Type 68) Experimental VTOL Aircraft.
25.0 ft
7.62 m
O/A Length
34.0 ft
(10.36 m)
O/A Width
7.9 ft
(2.40 m)
O/A Height
3,086 lb
(1,400 kg)
Empty Weight
4,266 lb
(1,935 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Bell X-14 (Type 68) family line.
X-14 - Base series designation; initial aircraft with Armstrong Siddeley Viper 8 engines.
X-14A - Fitted with General Electric J85 engines
X-14B - Fitted with General Electric J85-GE-19 engines
X-14C - Proposed variant with enclosed cockpit; never produced.
X-14T - Proposed trainer variant; never produced
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Bell X-14 (Type 68). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): 1957
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
1 / 1
Image of the Bell X-14 (Type 68)
Image from the NASA image archives.

Going Further...
The Bell X-14 (Type 68) Experimental VTOL Aircraft appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

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. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)