No. 10647. Convair 4 B-58A Hustler (61-2080 c/n 116) US Air Force
Photographed at Pima Air Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA, by Jeff Goldstein

Convair 4 B-58A Hustler

05/31/2011. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "The first supersonic bomber put into production for the USAF, the B-58, was developed and produced by the Convair Division of General Dynamics Corporation at Fort Worth, Texas. Features of the B-58 design (Convair Model 4) were its delta wing with four podded engines, area-ruled fuselage, tandem cockpits (seating the pilot, navigator-bombardier and defensive system operator) and large-scale use of honeycomb sandwich skin panels for the wing and fuselage.

To obtain the maximum in performance and mission flexibility, an external pod was adopted rather than internal weapon stowage. This pod contained fuel for the outward journey, and a nuclear weapon; the entire pod could be jettisoned after the target had been attacked. A later development of this idea was a dual pod, with fuel in the larger, lower compartment and a weapon, cameras, electronic countermeasures equipment or other special gear in the upper pod.

The first contract for B-58s was for two XB-58A prototypes (s/n 55-0660, 55-0661) and eleven YB-58A service test aircraft (s/n 55-0662 to 55-0672). The first prototype flew for the first time, without the pod, at Fort Worth on November 11, 1956, piloted by B.A. Erickson, followed by the second in February 1957. These trials aircraft were used for extensive flight testing, at first by the makers and then by the USAF B-58 Test Force comprising No. 6592 Test Squadron and No. 3958 Operational Evaluation and Training Squadron at Carswell AFB.

An additional 17 YB-58As (s/n 58-1007 to 58-1023) were ordered, and all YB-58As were powered by J79-GE-1 turbojets but early in 1960 the twelfth aircraft (55-0671) was re-engined with the 15,600 lb (7,076 kg) s.t J79-GE-5A model intended for production B-58s.

Production orders for a total of 86 B-58As were placed in 1959-61, the first of these flying in September 1959. On October 15, this aircraft flew 1,680 mls (2,704 km) in 80 minutes with one refueling, maintaining a speed of over Mach 2 (1,483 mph, 2,387 kmh) for over an hour. The 43rd Bomb Wing at Carswell AFB was selected as the first B-58 unit, and was activated on March 15, 1960; it was joined later by the 305th Bomb Wing at Bunker Hill AFB and these two units flew B-58s until they were withdrawn from service in 1970.

To help equip the operational units, 10 of the test batch were brought up to full production standard during 1961. Eight others were converted to TB-58A trainers with dual controls in the two front cockpits and operational equipment deleted; the first (55-670) flew on August 13, 1960.

In October 1962 the pictured aircraft was the last B-58 delivered, and served for ten years with Strategic Air Command. On June 1, 1970 it was transferred to the MASDC at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona, subsequently it was put on display at the adjacent Pima Air Museum."

Created May 31, 2011