Convair B-58 Hustler

Fact for 12/6/2021



The Convair B-58 Hustler, designed and produced by American aircraft manufacturer Convair, was the first operational bomber capable of Mach 2 flight.
The B-58 was developed during the 1950s for the United States Air Force (USAF) Strategic Air Command (SAC). To achieve the high speeds desired, Convair adapted the delta wing used by contemporary fighters such as the Convair F-102. The bomber was powered by four General Electric J79 engines in underwing pods. It had no bomb bay: it carried a single nuclear weapon plus fuel in a combination bomb/fuel pod underneath the fuselage. Later, four external hardpoints were added, enabling it to carry up to five weapons


The genesis of the B-58 was the Generalized Bomber Study (GEBO II) issued in February 1949 by the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, for the development of a supersonic, long-range, manned bomber aircraft. ARDC sought the best attainable quantitative data, challenging the industry to devise their own solutions to attain the stated goal
The Convair proposal, coded FZP-110, was a radical two-place delta wing bomber powered by three General Electric J53 turbojet engines. The performance estimates included a 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) speed and a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) range. A key feature of the design was to store consumables, both weaponry and most of the fuel, within a large external pod, which enabled a smaller fuselage. In January 1951, Convair submitted the FZP-110 proposal, which was received later than other competing bids.
The first prototype, serial number 55-660, was rolled out on 31 August 1956. The program was performed under high security: prior to the roll out, no unauthorized individual had knowledge of its shape or basic configuration. On 11 November 1956, the maiden flight occurred. The prototype exceeded Mach 1 for the first time on 30 December of that year. The difficult and protracted flight test program involving 30 aircraft continued until April 1959. A total of 116 B-58s were produced: 30 trial aircraft and 86 production B-58A models. 


The Convair B-58 Hustler was a high speed strategic bomber, capable of attaining routinely Mach 2 at altitude. It incorporated a large delta wing with a leading-edge sweep of 60° and was powered by an arrangement of four General Electric J79-GE-1 turbojet engines. Although its sizable wing generated relatively low wing loading, it proved to be surprisingly well suited for low-altitude, high-speed flight. To protect against the heat generated while cruising at Mach 2, the crew compartment, the wheel wells and electronics bay were pressurized and air conditioned. The B-58 was one of the first extensive applications of aluminum honeycomb panels, which bonded outer and inner aluminum skins to a honeycomb of aluminum or fiberglass
The structure itself made up 13.8 per cent of the aircraft's gross weight, an exceptionally low figure for the era, while the wing was considered to be extremely thin as well. Several key features of the engine, including the nacelle and the inlet, were unlike any existing aircraft, having been devised from guidance by aerodynamicists. the inlets used moving conical spikes, being fully aft on the ground and at low speeds to maximise air intake, then driven forward while being flown at high speeds to minimise the annular gap. This movement was automatically controlled . The B-58 also possessed unconventional stall characteristics; if the nose was elevated, the bomber maintained forward motion without pitching down. Unless large amounts of power were applied, the descent rate increased rapidly. it had AN/APB-2 bombing radar , and could carry Mark 39 or B53 or B43 or B61 nuclear bombs , maximum weapons load was 19,450 lb (8,820 kg)

source - Wikipedia