Convair B-58 Hustler
In March 1949 the US Air Force's Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) invited proposals for a supersonic bomber, and after submissions had been reduced to two, from Boeing and Consolidated-Vultee's Fort Worth Division, the latter was selected in August 1952 to develop its Convair Model 4 designed to the hardware stage under contract MX-1964. On 10 December 1952 the designation B-58 was allocated and late in that year Convair received a contract for 18 aircraft, to be powered by a new J79 engine for which General Electric received a development contract at the same time. The performance requirement for the new aircraft demanded considerable advances in aerodynamics, structures and materials. The resulting design, one of the first to incorporate the NACA/ Whitcomb-developed area-rule concept, was a delta-winged aircraft with four engines in underslung pods, a slim fuselage and, perhaps its most novel feature, a 18.90m long under-fuselage pod to carry fuel and a nuclear weapon. The three-man crew, in individual tandem cockpits, were provided with jetti-sonable escape capsules.
In June 1954 the 18-aircraft order was reduced to two XB-58 prototypes and 11 YB-58A pre-production examples, together with 31 pods. The first of these was rolled out at Fort Worth on 31 August 1956, making its first flight on 11 November piloted by B. A. Erikson. On 30 December, still without a pod, the XB-58 became the first bomber to exceed Mach 1. A further 17 YB-58As were ordered on 14 February 1958, together with 35 MB-1 bomb pods, to bring to 30 the number of aircraft available for the manufacturer's test programme and ARDC service trials with the 6592nd Test Squadron and the 3958th Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron at Carswell AFB.
A total of 86 production B-58A Hustler bombers was ordered between September 1958 and 1960, supplemented by 10 YB-58As which were brought up to production standard to equip the 43rd Bomb Wing, initially at Carswell but later assigned to Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, and the 305th Bomb Wing at Bunker Hill AFB, Indiana. The first was handed over to the 65th Combat Crew Training Squadron at Carswell on 1 December 1959 and the 43rd Bomb Wing, activated as the first B-58 unit on 15 March 1960, became operational on 1 August 1960. The 116th and last B-58A was delivered on 26 October 1962 and the type was withdrawn from Strategic Air Command service on 31 January 1970.
With such outstanding performance it was clear that the B-58A had record-breaking potential. On 12 January 1961 Major Henry Deutschendorf and his crew secured the 2000km closed-circuit record at 1708.8km/h and on 14 January Major Harold E. Confer's aircraft raised the 1000km record to 2067.57km/h. On 10 May Major Elmer Murphy won the trophy presented by Louis Bleriot in 1930 for the first pilot to exceed 2000km/h for a continuous period of 30 minutes. Sixteen days later Major William Payne and his crew flew from Carswell to Paris setting, en route, record times of 3 hours 39 minutes 49 seconds from Washington and 3 hours 19 minutes 51 seconds from New York; sadly the Hustler crashed at the Paris Air Show on 3 June with the loss of the crew. Other flights included a supersonic endurance record of 8 hours 35 minutes from Haneda, Tokyo to London, on 16 October 1963. Specification
ENGINE 4 x General Electric J79-GE-5A turbo-jets, 69.3kN with afterburner
Take-off weight 73936 kg 163002 lb DIMENSIONS
Wingspan 17.32 m 56 ft 10 in
Length 29.49 m 96 ft 9 in
Height 9.58 m 31 ft 5 in
Wing area 143.25 m2 1541.93 sq ft PERFORMANCE
Max. speed 2229 km/h 1385 mph
Ceiling 18290 m 60000 ft
Range 3219 km 2000 miles ARMAMENT
1 x 20mm cannon, nuclear bombs inside the container under the fuselage