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CONVAIR B-58 Hustler


Supersonic Delta-Winged Jet-Powered Medium Bomber (1960)


Aviation / Aerospace

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Image from the National Museum of the USAF, Dayton, Ohio.

Jump-to: Specifications

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



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/20/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
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.

The USAF contracted for 86 total Hustlers which were operational in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) between 1960 and 1970. B-58s, as a whole, went on to set some nineteen world speed and altitude records and won five different aviation trophies during their operational run - a vast engineering achievement realized. Despite these performance successes, the B-58 still suffered from limited operating ranges and a limited payload capacity which hampered series series growth potential.

There were a total of 116 B-58s built that broke down as 30 test and pre-production aircraft and 86 for official service. The last B-58 would be officially retired in January of 1970, about three months after the first General Dynamics FB-111 "Aardvark" swing-wing fighter-bomber (detailed elsewhere on this site) was accepted into frontline service by SAC. The simple fact remained that the B-58 Hustler came along when the high-altitude bomber concept had become a thing of the past and the aircraft was phased out of the USAF inventory after only 10 years of service. Nonetheless, the engineering accomplishments seen during development surely played a role in future bomber and turbojet concepts for decades to come.

Specifications



Service Year
1960

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
RETIRED
Not in Service.
Crew
3

Production
116
UNITS


CONVAIR - USA
National flag of the United States United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.


Length
96.8 ft
(29.49 m)
Width/Span
56.8 ft
(17.32 m)
Height
31.5 ft
(9.60 m)
Empty Wgt
55,561 lb
(25,202 kg)
MTOW
163,001 lb
(73,936 kg)
Wgt Diff
+107,440 lb
(+48,734 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the CONVAIR B-58A Hustler production variant)
Installed: 4 x General Electric J79-GE-3B afterburning turbojet engines developing 15,600 lb of thrust each.
Max Speed
1,321 mph
(2,126 kph | 1,148 kts)
Ceiling
62,999 ft
(19,202 m | 12 mi)
Range
5,124 mi
(8,247 km | 15,273 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
17,400 ft/min
(5,304 m/min)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the CONVAIR B-58A Hustler production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
STANDARD:
1 x 20mm T171 (M61) Gatling-style internal automatic cannon.
1 x Under-fuselage pod carrying up to 19,450 lb of conventional ordnance (drop bombs), nuclear ordnance, or tactical reconnaissance equipment. Supported B43 and B61 series nuclear payloads as well.


Supported Types


Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft Gatling-style rotating gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an air-launched nuclear weapon


(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 1


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.


Cockpit image of the CONVAIR B-58 Hustler
(Cockpit image represents the Convair B-58 Hustler production model)


General Assessment
Firepower  
Performance  
Survivability  
Versatility  
Impact  


Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
78
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 1400mph
Lo: 700mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,321mph).

Graph average of 1,050 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
CONVAIR B-58A Hustler operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Design Balance
The 3 qualities we look at for a balanced aircraft design are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (116)
116
36183
44000
This entry's total production compared against the most-produced military and civilian aircraft types in history (Ilyushin IL-2 and Cessna 172, respectively).
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