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Convair B-58 Hustler of the U.S. Air Force

The Convair B-58 was the world's first supersonic bomber, and the first to reach Mach 2. The delta-winged B-58 made its initial flight on November 11, 1956.

B-58 Hustler of the United States Air ForceB-58 Hustler

The service ceiling of the plane was 60,000 feet, and it had a range of 4,100 miles. It set 19 world speed and altitude records, and won five different aviation trophies.

Design and Development of the B-58

Building on Convair's experience of earlier delta-wing fighters, beginning with the XF-92A, a series of designs were developed, initially studying swept and semi-delta configurations, but settling on the delta wing platform.

It used four General Electric J79 engines in pods under the wing. It carried a nuclear weapon and fuel in a large pod under the fuselage rather than in an internal bomb bay. Although the USAF explored the possibility of using the B-58 for the conventional strike role, it was never equipped for carrying or dropping conventional bombs in service. Because of heat generated at Mach 2 cruise, not only the crew compartment, but the wheel wells and electronics bay were pressurized and air conditioned.

B-58 Production and Deployment

The first prototype B-58, serial number 55-660, was completed in August of 1956, and the first flight took place in November of 1956. The B-58 crews were elite, hand-picked from other strategic bomber squadrons. Due to some characteristics of delta-winged aircraft, new pilots used the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger as a conversion trainer, before moving to the TB-58A trainer.

Two Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomb wings operated the B-58 during its operational service: the 43d Bombardment Wing, based at Carswell AFB, Texas from 1960 to 1964, and Little Rock AFB, Arkansas from 1964 to 1970; and the 305th Bombardment Wing, based at Bunker Hill AFB (later Grissom AFB), Indiana from 1961 to 1970.

The final B-58 was delivered in October 1962 after a production run of 116 aircraft.

B-58 Hustler Specifications

Armament: One 20mm cannon in tail; nuclear weapons in pod or on under-wing pylons
Engines: Four General Electric J79s of 15,000 lbs. thrust each (with afterburner)
Maximum speed: 1,325 mph
Range: 4,400 miles without aerial refueling
Ceiling: 64,800 ft.
Span: 56 ft. 10 in.
Length: 96 ft. 10 in.
Height: 31 ft. 5 in.
Weight: 163,000 lbs. maximum

List of B-58 Hustler Surviving Aircraft

Only 116 of the B-58 were built, 30 trial aircraft and 86 production B-58A models. It had an unfavorably high accident rate, with 26 B-58 aircraft being lost in accidents.

The Air Force began to retire their two B-58 Hustler wings in November of 1969 and were moved to Davis-Monthan AFB for storage. The last one was retired from service in 1970. The surviving fleet of 82 Hustlers remained in storage until 1977 when it was sold to Southwestern Alloys for scrapping.

Today, eight B-58 survive and are displayed in the United States at these locations:

  • Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson ... the last Hustler to be delivered (see photos below)
  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
  • Grisson Air Museum
  • Edwards Air Force Base in California
  • Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas
  • Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas
  • Strategic Air and Space Museum near Omaha
  • Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum

B-58 Hustler Photographs

Convair B-58A Hustler bomber S/N 61-2080 at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, Arizona
Convair B-58A Hustler bomber S/N 61-2080 at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, Arizona
Convair B-58A Hustler with the "Can Do" shield
and the markings of the 305th Bombardment Wing, Grissom AFB, Indiana, 1969
Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson
Convair B-58A Hustler with the "Can Do" shield and the markings of the 305th Bombardment Wing, Grissom AFB, Indiana, 1969
Undercarriage, pod and engines of the Convair B-58A Hustler at the Pima Air Museum
Undercarriage and engines of the Convair B-58A Hustler at the Pima Air Museum
B-58 rocket sled at the Barksdale Global Power Museum in Bossier City, Louisiana
B-58 rocket sled at the Barksdale Global Power Museum in Bossier City, Louisiana

USAF B-58 Hustler Photos

B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
Convair B-58 Hustler S/N 92460 in flight (vintage postcard)
Convair B-58 Hustler S/N 92460 in flight
Convair B-58 Hustler (by the Museum of the US Air Force)
Convair B-58 Hustler

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