Convair B-58 Hustler
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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 The 116th and last B-58A was delivered on 26 October 1962 and the type was withdrawn from Strategic Air Command service on 31 January 1970.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.

Convair B-58 Hustler

 ENGINE4 x General Electric J79-GE-5A turbo-jets, 69.3kN with afterburner
    Take-off weight73936 kg163002 lb
    Wingspan17.32 m57 ft 10 in
    Length29.49 m97 ft 9 in
    Height9.58 m31 ft 5 in
    Wing area143.25 m21541.93 sq ft
    Max. speed2229 km/h1385 mph
    Ceiling18290 m60000 ft
    Range3219 km2000 miles
 ARMAMENT1 x 20mm cannon, nuclear bombs inside the container under the fuselage

Convair B-58 HustlerA three-view drawing (1000 x 559)

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120
Joe Darlington, 22.03.2018

I was the crew chief on Aircraft 61-2070 the last plane to leave for the bond yard around Feb.12 1970. I'm still proud
for being a B-58 crew chief and being station at Bunker Hill/Grissom AFB 1966-1970. I loved that plane and still miss it. Good memories.

Don Clifford, 12.06.2017

I was stationed at Bunker Hill from Jan. 1967 till Sept. 1970. I worked in the base supply research section. I remember the B58 that crashed on takeoff and also seem to remember one that had the nose landing gear collapse. That second one was repaired and put on display for awhile. After the B58's were retired, the base became a air refueling wing with KC-135's.

Rob Ransone, 06.02.2017

I have 106 hours in the B-58 as a flight test engineer at the Air Force Flight test Center, Edwards, AFB, California, between 1957 and 1964. I flew the Category II Stability & Control Evaluation with Charlie Bock, the Heavy Weight Performance Evaluation with Charlie Bock, the Refused Takeoff Tests with Fitz Fulton, and the Stability and Control Evaluation with Fitz Fulton to evaluate the flight control changes made after the accident over Oklahoma, and to learn how to slow the unstable airplane safely from M=2 after a complete stability augmentation system failure. These stories are documented in my book "More Than An Engineer," available form

Ralph S Miller, 06.02.2017

I am a retired Army Aviator and retired Professional Aeronautical Engineer (Texas) who graduated from Purdue in 1952. I went to work at Convair in 1953 as a Structural Engineer. Although very junior, I worked with experienced Engineers measuring the deflections under various load distributions on an elastic structural model of the B-58 vertical tail. We determined that it needed to be stiffer. I moved on to another local aircraft company so do not know when that was done. I believe it was a factor in the loss of the test plane in the outboard sudden engine failure test over Oklahoma. This is discussed in a great little book available from Amazon entitled The B-58 Blunder published in 2015 by Colonel George Holt, Jr., about $10 or $12. His point about blunder is related to withdrawing the B-58 from service ten years too soon. I recommend you get a copy. I am sure you will find it interesting. He tells much about the program including losses. RSM

Fausto DelGrosso, 29.12.2016

Does anyone out there in 58 land know Bill Shunney.He was a pilot/AC on one of your birds back when..... maybe early1960s. We were in Flight school learning to be navigator/ bombardiers back in 1952-53. Then sent to Loring AFB , Limestone, Me. Great guy. Had many years doing SAC's thing. He went to pilot training, I went back to college. Would be interested in any tales.


Robin Geiger, 23.09.2016

My father, Melbourne Arthur Paceley was one of the men of the 305 Wing A, as a Nuclear Weapon Specialist, discharged as Sargeant in 1967. He told me several stories, the one that stands out the most was the incident the sirens went off, an explosion of the plane in the hangar? I would love to get a listing of all of his buddies in the same batallion. He went to basic at Lackland AFB, down in TX, then went to Lawry AFB for training, and then transferred to Bunker Hill AFB. Is there a link you can lead me to? My father is alive and well, living in Decatur, IL presently. I would love to hear from his buddies, people that knew him and I can pass on the information to him since he does not use internet that much.
Thank you in advance!

Ralph Holm, 16.08.2016

Would love to have photos of the B 58

Ralph Holm, 16.08.2016

I just turned 70 so this is not a new experience for me. My uncle Fleet Wilson worked as a specialist for Convair on fitting the cockpits and gear sections for pilots of the B58 at the Ft Worth Plant. He knew what a plane nut I was and gave me his colored photos of the 58 when it rolled off the line ,filled me in with all the particulars of the aircraft and how blazing fast it was. Loved that plane and watched as often as I was in Ft Worth as a 10 year old .

David Curran, 07.05.2016

It was in 1959 that I saw my first and last B-58 Hustler. I was 9 years old and was outside throwing a football with my brother in the front yard of our home in Lawton, OK.
I happened to look up and saw a beautiful B-58 Hustler glistening in the sun light far over head. I was really into building model planes, so I quickly knew what plane it was and its name.
I looked down for a moment and threw the football to my brother. Then I looked back skyward to take another look at the B-58. To my surprise all that was in the clear blue Oklahoma sky was a white cloud of smoke where the B-58 should have been. Can't remember if I heard the explosion or not?
I ran into the house and told my father that a jet plane had just exploded. He just laughed and said for me to go back outside and play. About 30 minutes later my father came out and told me the TV news had just reported that a jet plane had blown up over the local area.

Gary Louderback, 01.04.2016

My father, TSGT. Clarence "Clancy" Louderback

steve fowler, 27.10.2015

I was at Little rock 66-70. I was a KC-135 crew chief all of my roommates were 58's. I was actually on the flightline when Rigleys baby landed and the landing gear collapsed. I watched in disbelief as it occurred. My acft 60-0339 had the left wing burn up when #2 engine threw compressor blades during engine run. my KC spent several months in the hanger being repaired. Great times at Littlerock.

George Haloulakos, 03.09.2015

The Convair B-58 Hustler was a pioneering aircraft whose history makes for a unique prism by which to examine the highs-and-lows of the 1960s as well as the nature of the Cold War. In my new book, CALL TO GLORY {ISBN 978-0-692-47545-4] it is shown that the B-58 Hustler actually produced a positive "economic" return [i.e., there were multiple spin-off benefits arising from the Hustler being a technology driver not reflected in the cost accounting data used for explaining its retirement], increased the versatility and strike capability of the overall SAC bomber fleet while reducing the overall fleet risk profile.

Doug Crow, 10.08.2015

My grandfather was an engineer that worked on "Project Quick Check" with Convair. This was a pod-mounted Hughes radar system that flew under a B-58. According to one site it was the 0668 aircraft that I believe is now on display at Little Rock Air force Base in Jacksonville, Ark. I also have a picture of this exact plane hanging on my office wall dated 08-29-61 numbered 50668. Would greatly appreciate any information on this project and this aircraft. Thanks!

Bill, 16.06.2015

I was stationed with the 43rd Bomb Wing (SAC) at Carswell and the trasferred with the 64th Bomb Sq as AIC of the Sq. I worked in both Combat Operations and the Alert barracks at Little Rock. It was a magnificant plane and nothing could beat watchin MITO takeof of this aircraft. I had 2 crew members killed from my Sq ejecting fro this aircraft at ground level. It was a beautiful and fast aircraft. Had an opportunity before leaving AF at Little Rock to ride this plane with my Sq CO, but was doing other things getting discharged and moving family back home. Always will regret not taking that ride.

Rod Robison, 16.03.2015

Ann Hale: I witnessed the B-58 crash your husband was in. I was 9 years old. My dad, Lt. Col. Elmer Robison, was a KC-135 pilot stationed at Bunker Hill. My friend and I were playing near the cornfield that separated the flight line and the housing where we lived. My friend shouted, "LOOK!" pointing toward the flight line. I turned to see a massive fireball. I'll never forget that scene.

robert etheredge, 22.02.2015

I was a crewchief @ LRAB, I was there from 1966 thru 1970,and 1974-1978,wonderful acft,will never forget it or team mates.........

robert etheredge, 22.02.2015

I was a crewchief @ LRAB, I was there from 1966 thru 1970,and 1974-1978,wonderful acft,will never forget it or team mates.........

Ken Walker, 06.02.2015

Hi Ms. Hale, I am Ken Walker and I was born in 1962 on Grissom AFB. My Dad is Lt. Col Wallace Joe Walker. He and my mom are in Austin now and I just sent them this link. Nice to come across it while random surfing this morning here in Asia.


rich, 02.02.2015

Thanks for your story, Ann.

Ann Hale, 27.01.2015

My husband was Bill Hale pilot on the B-58 at Grissom AFB. He retired as a LT. Col. and recently passed away. We were in the 305th Bomb Wing from 1955 to 19 70 when the airplane was sent to the boneyard. Bill crashed the first B-58 at Grissom on April 12 1962 on take off. Pete OConnor ejected and landed on the runway Bill ejected sideway out of the plane when it was 80feet from the ground his chute did open and he was not hurt. His navigator Duanne Dickey died in the accident. At the last minute when the B-58 was to leave Grissom forthe boneyard he was assigned to fly it out. So we use to say he crashed the first one at Grissom and flew the last one out. He entered the 305th Bomb Wing as a 2nd Lt. after Air Cadets and retired as a Lt. Col. from the Bomb Wing. He loved the B-58 said what a great plane it was. I was so proud to be a part of the great airplane. Ann Hale

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