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  • CONVAIR B-58 Hustler Supersonic Delta-Winged Jet-Powered Medium Bomber


    Eventually the need for high-altitude bombers was all but gone, leaving CONVAIR B-58 Hustler production at just 116 total units.

     Updated: 4/25/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com


    The delta-wing CONVAIR B-58 "Hustler" was the first operational supersonic-capable bomber of the United States Air Force (USAF). The product was designed for high-altitude flight at considerable speeds, popular qualities for early Cold War bombers intended to simply "outfly" enemy air defenses including interceptors and ground-based fire. Captured wartime German data concerning jets and high-speed flight influenced the B-58 program leading to a heavily streamlined, aerodynamically-sound fuselage with little protrusions - leaving the finalized B-58 form akin to an arrowhead.

    A prototype B-58 made its first flight on November 11th, 1956 and flew supersonically for the first time on December 30th, 1956. Distinct features of the aircraft included a then-sophisticated inertial guidance navigation and bombing system and "wasp-waist" fuselage. Extensive use of heat-resistant honeycomb sandwich skin panels were integrated into the construction of the wings and fuselage for the necessary high altitude-high, high-speed flight. The thin fuselage did provided some engineering challenges early on as it prevented internal carriage of bombs and the required amount of fuel to feed the four turbojet engines (thus restricting operational ranges). As a result, a large external droppable, two-component pod was added under the fuselage and contained extra fuel and a nuclear weapon along with other mission-specific gear. Later versions were fitted with reconnaissance equipment in place of the armament to form the "RB-58A" mark. Crew accommodations for the B-58 Hustler consisted of a pilot, navigator / bombardier, and defense systems operator - all sitting in tandem within escape capsules.


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    CONVAIR B-58A Hustler Technical Specifications


    Service Year: 1960
    Type: Supersonic Delta-Winged Jet-Powered Medium Bomber
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): CONVAIR - USA
    Production Total: 116



    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)


    Operating Crew: 3
    Length: 96.75 feet (29.49 meters)
    Width: 56.82 feet (17.32 meters)
    Height: 31.50 feet (9.60 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 55,561 lb (25,202 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 163,001 lb (73,936 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance


    Engine(s): 4 x General Electric J79-GE-3B afterburning turbojet engines developing 15,600 lb of thrust each.

    Maximum Speed: 1,321 mph (2,126 kph; 1,148 knots)
    Maximum Range: 5,124 miles (8,247 km)
    Service Ceiling: 62,999 feet (19,202 meters; 11.93 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 17,400 feet-per-minute (5,304 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload


    STANDARD:
    1 x 20mm T171 (M61) Gatling-style internal cannon
    1 x Under-fuselage pod carrying up to 19,450 lb of conventional ordnance, nuclear ordnance, or tactical reconnaissance equipment. Supported B43 and B61 series nuclear payloads.

    Global Operators / Customers


    United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)


    Model 4 - Convair Proposed Model Prototype

    XB-58 - Prototype Designation of which only 2 were produced from an original 18 ordered.

    YB-58A - Preproduction Model Designation of which 11 were produced.

    B-58A - Production Model based on the YB-58A.

    RB-58A - Reconnaissance Conversion Models of the latter-half of the YB-58A production; fitted with ventral reconnaissance pods.

    TB-58A - Conversion Trainer Models of YB-58A of which 8 existed.