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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 Force
Front view, B-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

B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
Convair B-58 Hustler

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

B-58 Hustler of the United States Air Force
B-58A Hustler

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

 

End of Production and Scrapping of the B-58

B-58 Hustlers in storage at the Davis-Monthan AFB AMARG boneyard in Tucson, Arizona
B-58 Hustlers in storage at the Davis-Monthan AFB AMARG boneyard in Tucson, Arizona

Only 116 of the B-58 were built, 30 trial aircraft and 86 production B-58A models, all at the Fort Worth Convair plant. The bomber 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 the aircraft 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.

List of B-58 Hustler Surviving Aircraft

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

S/N
Name
Location
City

B-58A
61-2080

Convair B-58A Hustler - Pima Air & Space Museum Pima Air & Space Museum Tucson, AZ
B-58A
55-0666
Convair B-58A Hustler - Castle Air Museum Castle Air Museum
Currently undergoing restoration (previously at Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum)
Atwater, CA
TB-58A
55-0663
Convair TB-58A Hustler - Grissom Air Museum Grissom Air Museum Peru, IN
TB-58A
55-0668
Convair TB-58A Hustler - Little Rock AFB Little Rock Air Force Base Jacksonville, AR
B-58A
59-2437
Convair B-58A Hustler - Lackland AFB Lackland Air Force Base San Antonio, TX
B-58A
59-2458
Convair B-58A Hustler - National Museum of the US Air Force National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Dayton, OH
B-58A
61-2059
Convair B-58A Hustler - Strategic AIr and Space Museum Strategic Air and Space Museum Ashland, NE
B-58A
55-0665
Convair B-58A Hustler - Edwards AFB in California Edwards Air Force Base
Derelict remains, used as a photo target
Rosamond, CA

 

Photographs of B-58 Hustler Survivors

Convair B-58A Hustler bomber S/N 61-2080 in Tucson, Arizona
Convair B-58A Hustler bomber S/N 61-2080
Convair B-58A Hustler with the "Can Do" shield
and the markings of the 305th Bombardment Wing, Grissom AFB, Indiana, 1969
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
Undercarriage, pod and engines of the Convair B-58A Hustler
B-58A Hustler, S/N 61-2059, "Greased Lightning", on display at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, Ashland, Nebraska
B-58A Hustler, S/N 61-2059, "Greased Lightning", on display at the Strategic Air Command & Space Museum, Nebraska
Convair B-58A Hustler S/N 59-2458 (Photo by the Museum of the US Air Force)
Convair B-58 Hustler
Convair B-58 Hustler S/N 59-2437 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas
Convair B-58 Hustler
Convair B-58 Hustler S/N 55-0668 at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas
Convair B-58 Hustler
Convair B-58 Hustler S/N 55-0663 at the Grissom Air Museum in Ohio
Convair B-58 Hustler
B-58 rocket sled at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana
B-58 rocket sled at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana


USAF B-58 Hustler Photos

Convair B-58 Hustler S/N 92460 in flight
Convair B-58 Hustler S/N 92460 in flight


Convair YB-58A-1-CF Hustler, S/N 55-0661
Convair YB-58A-1-CF Hustler, S/N 55-0661