Two X-2s were built by Bell Aircraft at their Niagara Falls, New York, facility. The airframes were composed primarily of stainless steel and “K-Monel,” an advanced lightweight heat-resistant stainless steel alloy swept wings.
The powerplant comprised a 15,500 lb (6804 kg) thrust throttable Curtiss-Wright XLR-25-CW-1 liquid propellant rocket.
The first X-2 was dropped into Lake Ontario on 12 May 1953 following an explosion and fire that also caused extensive damage to the EB-50A launch aircraft.
The second aeroplane made the type’s first powered flight on 18 Novernber 1955, and recorded an altitude of 126,000 ft (38,465 m) as well as a speed of Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph; 3,370 km/h), the latter being recorded during the type’s fatal last flight on 27 Septernber 1956. This remained the highest speed at which man had flown until 1961.
The aircraft experienced “inertia coupling” resulting in complete loss of control, pilot Milburn Apt was killed in the accident. No examples of the X-2 survive.
Engine: 1 x Curtiss-Wright XLR25-CW-1 rocket engine, 6804kg
Wingspan: 9.75 m / 31 ft 12 in
Length: 13.41 m / 43 ft 12 in
Height: 4.11 m / 13 ft 6 in
Max. speed: M3.2 (2,094 mph; 3,370 km/h).
Ceiling: 38405 m / 126,000 ft / 38,465 m