Convair B-58 Hustler

The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first operational jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight.[2] The aircraft was designed by Convair and developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) for service in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the 1960s.[3] It used a delta wing, which was also employed by Convair fighters such as the F-102, with four General Electric J79 engines in underwing pods; carried one nuclear weapon and fuel in a combination bomb/fuel pod under the fuselage, rather than in an internal bomb bay. Later on, four additional external hardpoints were added to allow five weapons to be carried.

Replacing the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber, it was originally intended to fly at high altitudes and supersonic speeds to avoid Soviet fighters. The B-58 was notorious for its sonic boom, which was often heard by the public as it passed overhead in supersonic flight.[4]

The introduction of highly-accurate Soviet surface-to-air missiles forced the B-58 into a low-level-penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value, and it was never employed to deliver conventional bombs. This resulted in only a brief operational career between 1960 and 1970 when the B-58 was succeeded by the smaller, swing-wing FB-111A.[5]

B-58 Hustler
B-58 (modified)
Convair B-58 of the United States Air Force
Role Supersonic strategic bomber
National origin United States
Manufacturer Convair
First flight 11 November 1956
Introduction 15 March 1960
Retired 31 January 1970
Status Retired
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 116
Unit cost
US$12.44 million[1] (equivalent to $80.26 million today)
Variants Convair Model 58-9

Design and development

Convair B-58 Ejection Capsule 3-4 front view 061101-F-1234P-012
Ejection pod undergoing testing

The genesis of the B-58 program 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, bombardment aviation platform. The proposed bomber's design and development was to begin less than two years after sustained supersonic flight had been achieved.[6] Contractors who bid to perform the generalized study (that hopefully would lead to a development contract) included Boeing, Convair, Curtiss, Douglas, Martin and North American Aviation.

Convair, which had built the XF-92A and other delta-wing fighters, initially looked at swept and semi-delta configurations, then settled on the delta wing planform, which offered good internal volume for support systems and fuel. It also had low wing loading (for airframe size), permitting supersonic flight in the mid-stratosphere at 50,000 to 70,000 ft (15,000 to 21,000 m). The final Convair proposal, coded FZP-110, was a radical two-place, delta wing bomber design powered by General Electric J53 engines. The performance estimates included a 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) speed and a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) range.[6]

Convair RB-58A Hustler 3-4 front view (SN 58-1011) 061101-F-1234P-016
RB-58A with two component pod (TCP)

The Air Force chose Boeing (MX-1712) and Convair MX-1626 to proceed to a Phase 1 study. The Convair design, refined and redesignated the MX-1964, was chosen in December 1952[7] to meet the newly proposed SAB-51 (Supersonic Aircraft Bomber) and SAR-51 (Supersonic Aircraft Reconnaissance), the first General Operational Requirement (GOR) worldwide for supersonic bombers. In February 1953, the Air Force issued a contract to develop Convair's design.[8]

The resulting B-58 design was the first "true" USAF supersonic bomber program. The Convair design was based on a delta wing with a leading-edge sweep of 60° with four General Electric J79-GE-1 turbojet engines, capable of flying at Mach 2. Although its large wing made for relatively low wing loading, it proved to be surprisingly well suited for low-altitude, high-speed flight. It seated three (pilot, bombardier/navigator, and defensive systems operator) in separated tandem cockpits. Later versions gave each crew member a novel ejection capsule that could eject at an altitude of 70,000 ft (21,000 m) at speeds up to Mach 2. Unlike standard ejection seats of the period, a protective clamshell would enclose the seat and the control stick with an attached oxygen cylinder, allowing the pilot to continue to fly even "turtled up" and ready for immediate egress. The capsule was buoyant; the crewmember could open the clamshell, and use it as a life raft.[9][10] Unusually, the ejection systems was tested with live bears and chimpanzees.[11] The XB-70 would use a similar system with capsules of a different design.

B-58 Escape Capsule
B-58 crewmember escape capsule
Convair YB-58A-1-CF Hustler 55-661
Convair YB-58A-1-CF Hustler, (AF Ser. No. 55-0661), the second aircraft built

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.[12]

The pilot's cockpit was rather conventional for a large multi-engine aircraft.[13] The electronic controls were ambitious and advanced for the day. The navigator and DSO's cockpits featured wraparound dashboards with warning lights and buttons, and automatic voice messages and warnings from a tape system were audible through the helmet sets. Research during the era of all-male combat aircraft assignments revealed that a woman's voice was more likely to gain the attention of young men in distracting situations. Nortronics Division of Northrop Corporation selected actress and singer Joan Elms to record the automated voice warnings. To those flying the B-58, the voice was known as "Sexy Sally."[14][15]

Weapons systems

The Sperry AN/ASQ-42 bombing/navigation system combined a sophisticated inertial navigation system with the KS-39 Star tracker (astro-inertial navigation system) to provide heading reference, the AN/APN-113 Doppler radar to provide ground speed and windspeed data, a search radar to provide range data for bomb release and trajectory, and a radar altimeter.[16] The AN/ASQ-42 was estimated to be 10 times more accurate than any previous bombing/navigation system.[16]

Defensive armament consisted of a single 20 mm (0.79 in) T-171E-3 rotary cannon with 1,200 rounds of ammunition in a radar-aimed tail barbette.[16][17] It was remotely controlled through the Emerson MD-7 automated radar fire-control system only requiring the DSO to lock-on a selected target blip on his scope and then fire the gun. The system computed aiming, velocity or heading differential, and range compensation.[16] Offensive armament typically consisted of a single nuclear weapon, along with fuel tanks, in a streamlined MB-1C pod under the fuselage. Incurable difficulties with fuel leakage resulted in the replacement of the MB-1C with the TCP (Two Component Pod), which placed the nuclear weapon in an upper section while the lower fuel component could be independently jettisoned.[18] This had the added benefit of allowing the pilot to "clean up" the aircraft for fuel efficiency or in case of emergency, while still retaining the (somewhat) slimmer weapon.

The first prototype, serial number 55-660, was completed in late August 1956.[19] The first flight took place in November 1956.[20] A difficult and protracted flight test program involving 30 aircraft continued until April 1959.[21] The final B-58 was delivered in October 1962.[21]

From 1961 to 1963, the B-58 was retrofitted with two tandem stub pylons under each wing root, adjacent to the centreline pod,[22] for B43 or B61 nuclear weapons for a total of five nuclear weapons per aircraft. Although the USAF looked at using the B-58 for conventional strikes, it was never equipped for carrying or dropping conventional bombs. A photo reconnaissance pod, the LA-331, was also fielded. Several other specialized pods for ECM or an early cruise missile were considered, but not adopted. The late-1950s High Virgo air-launched ballistic missile was designed to be launched from the B-58; a Hustler carried out four test launches to determine ballistic missile and anti-satellite weapon system capability.[23][24]

Operational history

B-58 Hustler
B-58A in flight

The B-58 crews were chosen from other strategic bomber squadrons. Due to some characteristics of delta-winged aircraft, new pilots used the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger as a conversion trainer, before moving to the TB-58A trainer.[25] The B-58 was difficult to fly and its three-man crews were constantly busy, but its performance was exceptional. A lightly loaded Hustler would climb at nearly 46,000 ft/min (235 m/s).[26] In addition to its much smaller weapons load and more limited range than the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the B-58 had been extremely expensive to acquire.

Excessive program expenditure

Through FY 1961, the total cost of the B-58 program was $3 billion ($20 billion in 2018 dollars).[27][28] A highly complex aircraft, it also required considerable maintenance, much of which required specialized equipment and ground personnel. For comparison, the average maintenance cost per flying hour for the B-47 was $361, for the B-52 it was $1,025 and for the B-58 it was $1,440.[29] The B-58 cost three times as much to operate as the B-52.[30] The cost of maintaining and operating the two operational B-58 wings (39 aircraft per wing) equaled that of six wings of B-52s (only 15 aircraft per wing). Because of the support costs of six wings vs only two wings, the actual cost per aircraft of the B-52s were $1.42 million per year vs $1.21 million per year for the B-58. (.[31] This included special detailed maintenance for the nose landing gear, which retracted in a complex fashion to avoid the center payload. Compounding this, the B-58 had a high accident rate: 26 B-58 aircraft were lost in accidents, 22.4% of total production, more than half of the losses occurred during flight tests. The SAC senior leadership had been doubtful about the aircraft type from the beginning, although its crews eventually became enthusiastic about the aircraft. General Curtis LeMay was never satisfied with the bomber, and after a flight in one declared that it was too small, far too expensive to maintain in combat readiness and required an excessive number of aerial refuelings to complete a mission.[32] Although the high altitude ferry range of the B-58 was better than that of the B-47's, the lack of forward basing resulted in a requirement for more KC-135 tanker support.[33][34]

Adverse flight characteristics

While its performance and design were exceptional and appreciated, it was not easy to fly. This was caused by the 60° leading edge sweepback of its wing and was inherent in these types of delta wing platforms. It required a much higher angle of attack than a conventional aircraft, up to 9.4° at Mach 0.5 at low altitudes. If the angle of attack was too high, in excess of 17°, the bomber could pitch up and enter a spin. Several factors could prevent a successful recovery: if the pilot applied elevon, if the center of gravity was not correctly positioned, or if the spin occurred below 15,000 feet (4,600 metres), recovery might not be possible. The B-58 also had stall characteristics that were unconventional. 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.[31] Another problem pilots faced was called "fuel stacking" and took place when the B-58 accelerated or decelerated. It was due to fuel moving in the tanks and causing sudden changes in the center of gravity. This could cause the aircraft to pitch or bank and subsequently lose control.[35] The B-58 was very difficult to safely recover from the loss of an engine at supersonic cruise due to differential thrust. For this reason a system was retrofitted which would retard the symmetrical outboard engine automatically in the event of the failure of an outboard engine at high Mach numbers (above Mach 1.2) without any pilot action being required.

The aircraft had unusual takeoff requirements, with a 14° angle of attack needed for the rotation at about 203.5 knots (376.9 km/h; 234.2 mph) for a 150,000-pound (68,000 kg) combat weight.[36] This poor takeoff performance was evident with the high landing speed, necessitating a drogue parachute for braking, which was also required for B-47 and B-52 aircraft.

Operational wings and retirement

Two SAC bomb wings operated the B-58 during its operational service: the 43d Bombardment Wing (which later transitioned to the 43rd Airlift Wing), based at Carswell AFB, Texas from 1960 to 1964, and Little Rock AFB, Arkansas from 1964 to 1970; and the 305th Bombardment Wing, based at Bunker Hill AFB (later Grissom AFB), Indiana from 1961 to 1970. The 305th also operated the B-58 combat crew training school (CCTS), the predecessor of the USAF's current formal training units (FTUs).

Convair XB-58 Hustler during takeoff 061101-F-1234P-008
XB-58 prototype during takeoff

By the time the early problems had largely been resolved and SAC interest in the bomber had solidified, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara decided that the B-58 was not a viable weapon system.[37] It was during the B-58's introduction that high-altitude Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAM) became a threat, especially the SA-2 Guideline, a SAM system the Soviet Union extensively deployed. The "solution" to this problem was to fly at low altitudes, minimizing the radar line-of-sight and reducing exposure time.

Because of dense air at low altitudes, the B-58 could not fly at supersonic speeds and its moderate range was reduced further, negating the costly high-speed performance of the design. In late 1965, Secretary McNamara ordered retirement of the B-58 by 1970. Despite efforts of the Air Force to earn a reprieve, the phaseout proceeded on schedule. The last B-58s were retired in January 1970 and placed in storage with the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The fleet survived until 1977, when nearly all remaining aircraft were sold to Southwestern Alloys for disposal.[38][39] The B-58 as a weapons system was replaced by the FB-111A. This was designed for low-altitude attack, to be more flexible with the carriage of conventional weapons, and less expensive to produce and maintain.

A total of 116 B-58s were produced: 30 trial aircraft and 86 production B-58A models. Most of the trial aircraft were later upgraded to operational standard. Eight were equipped as TB-58A training aircraft.

Since B-58 pilots were the only USAF pilots experienced in long-duration supersonic flight, several former Hustler crew members were selected by Colonel Douglas Nelson to fly the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird at the start of that program.

Test aircraft

A number of B-58s were used for special trials. One was specially modified to test the Hughes radar system intended for the Lockheed YF-12 interceptor and the North American F-108 Rapier, which had an extended nose to accommodate the radar and was nicknamed "Snoopy" (see Aircraft on Display). Several improved (and usually enlarged) variants, named B-58B and B-58C by the manufacturer, were proposed but never built.

Convair B-58 Hustler 'Greased Lightning - 61-2059
61-2059 (Greased Lightning) at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum near Ashland, Nebraska. It averaged 938 kn flying 8,028 nmi. from Tokyo to London in 8 hours and 35 minutes in October 1963. This photo shows the three crew hatches open

World records

The B-58 set 19 world speed records, including coast-to-coast records, and the longest supersonic flight in history. In 1963, it flew from Tokyo to London (via Alaska), a distance of 8,028 miles (12,920 km) in 8 hours, 35 minutes, 20.4 seconds, averaging 938 miles per hour (1,510 kilometres per hour). As of 2016, this record still stands.[40][41] The aircraft was serving in an operational unit, and had not been modified in any way besides being washed and waxed. One of the goals of the flight was to push the limit of its new honeycomb construction technique. The speed of the flight was limited only by the speed at which they believed the honeycomb panels would delaminate, although one of the afterburners malfunctioned and the last hour of the flight was continued at subsonic speed. This reduced the average speed to roughly Mach 1.5, despite most of the flight being at Mach 2.[42][43] This B-58 was called "Greased Lightning" – the codename for the record attempt.

Some of the record winning aerospace trophies the B-58 won were the Bleriot trophy, the Thompson trophy, the Mackay trophy, the Bendix trophy and the Harmon trophy.[44]

Singer John Denver's father, Lieutenant Colonel Henry J. Deutschendorf, Sr., USAF, held several speed records as a B-58 pilot.[45]


  • XB-58: Prototype; two built.
  • YB-58A: Pre-production aircraft; 11 built.
  • B-58A: Three-seat medium-range strategic bomber aircraft; 86 built.
  • TB-58A: Training aircraft. Eight conversions from YB-58A.
  • NB-58A: This designation was given to a YB-58A used to test the General Electric J93 engine, originally intended for the North American XB-70 Valkyrie Mach 3 bomber.
  • RB-58A: Variant with ventral reconnaissance pod; 17 built.
  • B-58B: Unbuilt. Larger and faster than the B-58A, this version would have had uprated J79-GE-9 engines, a longer fuselage for extra fuel capacity, canards, and the ability to carry conventional weapons.[35][46] A prototype B-58B was ordered (S/N 60-1109) and a total purchase of 185 envisioned, but the entire project was canceled before construction began, due to budgetary considerations.[47] The B variant was also planned to be the mothership for a Mach 4 parasite called the FISH, for First Invisible Super Hustler. That FISH had three ramjets that would be ignited at an altitude of at least 35,000 feet (11,000 metres) and speeds over Mach 2.[48] The Super Hustler would then drop from the B-58B, climb to 90,000 feet (27,000 metres), and accelerate to Mach 4.2 to complete its mission.[49][50]
  • B-58C: Unbuilt. Proposed as a cheaper alternative to the XB-70, this enlarged version would have carried more fuel and 32,500 lbf (145 kN) J58 engines, the same ones used on the Lockheed SR-71. Design studies were conducted with two- and four-engine designs. Capable of carrying conventional weapons, the C model had an estimated top speed approaching Mach 3, a supercruise capability of about Mach 2, a service ceiling of about 70,000 ft (21,300 m), and a maximum range of 5,200 nautical miles (6,000 mi; 9,600 km). As enemy defenses against high-speed, high-altitude penetration bombers improved, the value of the B-58C diminished and the program was canceled in early 1961.[51]
  • Convair Model 58-9: a proposed supersonic transport. Developed by Convair in 1961, it was intended to carry 52 passengers faster than Mach 2.


 United States


In September 1961, a B-58 on training flight from Carswell Air Force Base suffered a fire and failure of the left main gear. A chase aircraft was sent to examine the aircraft in flight. Through the night, eight sessions of mid-air refuelling were conducted, using an improved technique, and once daylight broke a successful emergency landing was made at Edwards Air Force Base. The Air Force made a training film about the incident, including film of the landing.[52]

On June 15, 1965, at the Paris Air Show (Paris, France), United States Air Force Lt. Colonel Charles D. Tubbs was killed and two other crewmen injured when their B-58 Hustler bomber crashed. The aircraft landed short of the runway, struck the instrument approach beacons and burst into flames.

Aircraft on display

Convair B-58 Hustler USAF
B-58A Hustler (AF Serial No. 59-2458), the "Cowtown Hustler," in front of the National Museum of the United States Air Force's restoration facility at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
B-58A BuNo 61-2080 - Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
B-58A, AF Ser. No. 61-2080, at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona

Today there are eight B-58 survivors:[53][54]


Specifications (B-58A)

B58 Schematics
Schematics of Convair B-58 Hustler
B-58 weapons pod castle
MB-1C original combined expendable underbelly fuel and weapon pod
Convair B-58A Hustler front view 061101-F-1234P-021
A front view of the B-58A in the "clean" configuration
J79 components
Cutaway diagram of the J79 with components labeled
Air starter GE J79-11A by BMW
Cutaway of an air start system of a General Electric J79 turbojet. The small turbine and epicyclic gearing are clearly visible.

Data from Quest for Performance[66]

General characteristics


  • Maximum speed: 1,146 kn (1,319 mph, 2,122 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,000 m)[67]
  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.0
  • Cruise speed: 530 kn (610 mph, 980 km/h)
  • Range: 4,100 nmi (4,700 mi, 7,600 km)
  • Combat range: 1,740 nmi (2,000 mi, 3,220 km)
  • Service ceiling: 63,400 ft (19,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 17,400 ft/min (88 m/s) at gross weight[69]
  • Lift-to-drag: 11.3 (subsonic, "clean configuration")
  • Wing loading: 44 lb/sq ft (210 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.919



Notable appearances in media

Jimmy Stewart, a bomber pilot during World War II and a brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve, appeared in the Air Force documentary film B-58 Champion of Champions. In the film, Stewart flew in the back seat of the B-58 on a typical low-altitude attack.[75]

In the film Fail Safe, the attack on Moscow is made by a squadron of "Vindicator" bombers, fictitious aircraft. [76] While exterior shots of the plane relied on footage of B-58s, interior shots depicted a three man crew, similar to that of a conventional airliner, and distinct from the tandem seating on a real B-58.

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



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  2. ^ Wilson 2000, p. 38.
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Robert H. Widmer, Designer of Military Aircraft, Dies at 95." The New York Times, 2 July 2011.
  4. ^ "B-58's Sonic Boom Rattles Kentuckians." Chicago Daily Tribune, 19 December 1961. Retrieved: 2 November 2009.
  5. ^ Morrison, David C. (February 1984). "The Weapons Tutorial: Air-Breathing Nuclear Delivery Systems". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 40 (2): 34. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
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  8. ^ Miller 1985, p. 28.
  9. ^ On display at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.
  10. ^ Force, United States Air (January 1, 2008). Convair B-58 Hustler Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions. p. 107. ISBN 9780981652658.
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  52. ^ Video on YouTube
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  • Miller, Jay. "History of the Hustler." Airpower, Vol. 6, No. 4, July 1976.
  • Slade, Stuart. United States Strategic Bombers 1945–2012. Newtown, Connecticut: Defense Lion Publications, 2012. ISBN 978-0-5781-0525-3.
  • Sorenson, David S. The Politics of Strategic Aircraft Modernization. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1995. ISBN 978-0-2759-5258-7.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1989. ISBN 0-87474-880-1.
  • United States Air Force Museum Guidebook. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation, 1975.
  • Veronico, Nicholas A. and Ron Strong. AMARG: America's Military Aircraft Boneyard. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-5800-7139-0.
  • Wagner, Ray. American Combat Planes of the Twentieth Century. Reno, Nevada: Jack Bacon and Co., 2004. ISBN 0-930083-17-2.
  • Wilson, Stewart. Combat Aircraft since 1945. Fyshwick, ACT, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd, 2000, p. 38. ISBN 1-875671-50-1.
  • Winchester, Jim, ed. "Convair B-58 Hustler." Military Aircraft of the Cold War (The Aviation Factfile). Rochester, Kent, UK: The Grange plc., 2006. ISBN 1-84013-929-3.

External links

65th Special Operations Squadron

The 65th Special Operations Squadron is a Air Force Special Operations Command unit which flies the MQ-9 Reaper, currently stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida. It was first activated in 1941 as the 65th Bombardment Squadron when United States increased its armed forces prior to entry into World War II. It briefly served in the antisubmarine role, then deployed to the Southwest Pacific Theater, where it participated in combat against Japan, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation and a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. During this period, a crew from the 65th became the most-decorated aircrew in United States history, when their B-17 fought off more than a dozen Japanese fighters during a photo reconnaissance mission. The 65th remained in the Philippines after the war ended, and was inactivated in the Philippines in 1946.

The squadron was reactivated at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona as a Strategic Air Command bomber squadron. It continued in the strategic bomber role until 1970, flying a variety of strategic bombers, including the supersonic Convair B-58 Hustler. In 1962, a crew from the 65th won the Mackay Trophy and the Bendix Trophy for setting a trio of transcontinental speed records in a round trip from Los Angeles to New York and back during Operation Heat Rise. . From 1986 to 1991, as the 65th Strategic Squadron, it controlled bombers and tankers deployed at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam. It was activated in its current role in December 2018.

825th Strategic Aerospace Division

The 825th Strategic Aerospace Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Strategic Air Command (SAC), assigned to Second Air Force at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, where it was inactivated on 1 January 1970.

The division was first activated at Little Rock by SAC as the 825th Air Division in August 1955 as the host and command organization for two Boeing B-47 Stratojet units, the 70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing and the 384th Bombardment Wing. From 1956 to 1959 the division's wings deployed to overseas bases periodically. After an organizational test, the 384th Wing began to maintain its alert aircraft at its home station and the 70th Wing became a training unit for reconnaissance crews flying the Stratojet. The division was awarded an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its participation in the test. A third B-47 wing at Chennault Air Force Base was briefly assigned to the division as well.

On two occasions, the division's operational units assumed a full alert posture. The first was in 1958, when the Lebanon and the Taiwan Strait crises occurred, and the second responded to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As the B-47 force grew smaller in the early 1960s, the division's wings were inactivated, but the division added one of the Air Force's two LGM-25 Titan II wings and became the headquarters for SAC's two Convair B-58 Hustler wings. It continued this mission until January 1970 as the B-58 was retired and Little Rock was transferred to Tactical Air Command.


The Hughes AN/ASG-18 Fire Control System was a prototype airborne fire control radar system for the planned North American XF-108 Rapier interceptor aircraft for the United States Air Force. It was the US's first Pulse-Doppler radar, giving it look-down/shoot-down capability, and was also the first track while scan radar (could track one target at a time). This was paired with an infrared search and track (IRST) system. Range of the radar was estimated at between 200 and 300 miles (322 to 482 km), with reliable detection of bomber-sized targets at 100 miles. The installation itself was massive, weighing 2,100 lb (953 kg), and taking up most of the nose of the aircraft. The system was to be used with the Hughes AIM-47 Falcon missile, which also had a range of about 100 miles.

While development work was done with the XF-108, the AN/ASG-18 and Falcon missiles were first tested on a highly modified Convair B-58 Hustler bomber. To fit the radar, the nose was lengthened nearly 7 feet (2.13 m), and the infrared sensors were mounted on either side of the forward fuselage. The resulting nose shape led to it being nicknamed "Snoopy". A single missile was housed in a specially built pod underneath the fuselage.

Before the test "Snoopy" could fly, the XF-108 program was cancelled, and the proposed Lockheed YF-12 interceptor was to instead receive the radar/missile system pair. Tests of the system were conducted first in 1960 and until 1963 only on the modified B-58, after which the YF-12 took over until the cancellation of the whole program in 1966.


B58 may refer to :

HLA-B58, an HLA-B serotype

Convair B-58 Hustler, an aircraft

BMW B58, an engine

Christmas tree (aviation)

A "Christmas tree" was a type of alert area constructed by the United States Air Force for the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the Cold War. Oftentimes, bombers or tanker aircraft were stationed next to a readiness crew building (RCB), also known as "mole hole" facilities. The alert apron, also known as an alert ramp, received the name "Christmas tree", because in planform it resembled a tree of the same name.


Convair, previously Consolidated Vultee, was an American aircraft manufacturing company that later expanded into rockets and spacecraft. The company was formed in 1943 by the merger of Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft. In 1953 it was purchased by General Dynamics, and operated as their Convair Division for most of its corporate history.

Convair is best known for its military aircraft; it produced aircraft such as the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, the F-102 Delta Dagger, the F-106 Delta Dart, and the B-58 Hustler bombers. It also manufactured the first Atlas rockets, including the rockets that were used for the manned orbital flights of Project Mercury. The company's subsequent Atlas-Centaur design continued this success and derivatives of the design remain in use as of 2019.

The company also entered the jet airliner business with its Convair 880 and Convair 990 designs. These were smaller than contemporary aircraft like the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, but somewhat faster than either. This combination of features failed to find a profitable niche and the company exited the airliner design business. However, the manufacturing capability built up for these projects proved very profitable and the company became a major subcontractor for airliner fuselages.

In 1994 most of the company's divisions were sold by General Dynamics to McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed, with the remaining components deactivated in 1996.

Convair Model 58-9

The Convair Model 58-9 was a proposed American supersonic transport, developed by the Convair division of General Dynamics and intended to carry fifty-two passengers at over Mach 2. Derived from the B-58 Hustler bomber, it was designed in 1961 but no examples of the type were ever built.

Escape crew capsule

An escape crew capsule is an escape capsule that allows one or more occupants of an aircraft or spacecraft to escape from the craft while it is subjected to extreme conditions, such as high speed or altitude. The occupant remains encapsulated and protected until such time as the external environment is suitable for direct exposure or the capsule reaches the ground.

Fightin' 5

The Fightin' 5 are a Charlton Comics Special Forces paramilitary team, similar to DC Comics' Blackhawks. They debuted in Fightin' 5 #28, (July 1964), and were created by Joe Gill and Bill Montes.

General Electric J79

The General Electric J79 is an axial-flow turbojet engine built for use in a variety of fighter and bomber aircraft and a supersonic cruise missile. The J79 was produced by General Electric Aircraft Engines in the United States, and under license by several other companies worldwide.

A commercial version, designated the CJ805, powered the Convair 880, while an aft-turbofan derivative, the CJ805-23, powered the Convair 990 airliners and a single Sud Aviation Caravelle intended to demonstrate to the U.S. market the benefits of a bypass engine over the existing Avon turbojet.

In 1959 the gas generator of the J79 was developed as a stationary 10MW-class (13,000 bhp) free-turbine turboshaft engine for naval power, power generation, and industrial use, called the LM1500. Its first application was in the research hydrofoil USS Plainview.

High Virgo

The High Virgo, also known as Weapons System 199C (WS-199C), was a prototype air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) jointly developed by Lockheed and the Convair division of General Dynamics during the late 1950s. The missile proved moderately successful and aided in the development of the later GAM-87 Skybolt ALBM. It was also used in early tests of anti-satellite weapons.

James Jabara

James "Jabby" Jabara (10 October 1923 – 17 November 1966) was the first American and United States Air Force jet ace in history. Born in Oklahoma, he lived in Kansas where he enlisted as an aviation cadet at Fort Riley after graduating from high school. Jabara attended four flying schools in Texas before he received his pilot's wings and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Jabara flew two tours of combat duty in Europe during World War II as a North American P-51 Mustang pilot, and scored 1.5 air victories against German aircraft.

Jabara flew his first jet aircraft in 1948, the USAF Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star before transitioning to the USAF North American F-86 Sabre. Jabara used this aircraft to shoot down multiple Soviet-built MiG-15 jets during the Korean War. He achieved his first confirmed air victory of the war on 3 April 1951. A month later he was credited with his fifth and sixth victories, making him the first American jet ace in history. He eventually scored 15 victories, giving him the title of "triple ace". Jabara was ranked as the second-highest-scoring U.S. ace of the Korean War. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and the British Distinguished Flying Cross for his accomplishments in combat.

Jabara next held a series of commands at various Air Force bases across the United States. He flew the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and later the Convair B-58 Hustler. In 1966, while on leave from service in Vietnam, Colonel Jabara was traveling with his family in two cars to their new home when his daughter crashed the car she was driving and he was riding in, killing them both. They were buried together at Arlington National Cemetery. In recognition of his contributions to military aviation, an airport outside of Wichita, Kansas was named in his honor. Each year the United States Air Force Academy alumni association bestows the Jabara Award upon an Academy graduate whose aerospace accomplishments demonstrate superior performance.

Mole hole

A mole hole, officially designated the Readiness Crew Building (RCB), is a type of structure built by the United States Air Force at former Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases around the country during the 1950s and 1960s. RCBs were located adjacent to an Alert Ramp, also called a "Christmas Tree", where Ready Alert aircraft were parked. These aircraft were initially Boeing B-47 Stratojet aircraft armed with nuclear weapons, augmented by Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter aerial refueling aircraft. As SAC introduced newer bomber and aerial tanker aircraft into its inventory, the B-47 and KC-97 were later superseded by Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Convair B-58 Hustler, General Dynamics FB-111 or Rockwell B-1 Lancer bombers, augmented by Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker or McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender aerial refueling aircraft.

North American B-45 Tornado

The North American B-45 Tornado was an early American jet-powered bomber designed and manufactured by aircraft company North American Aviation. It has the distinction of being the first operational jet bomber to enter service with the United States Air Force (USAF), as well as being the first multiengine jet bomber in the world to be refueled in midair.The B-45 originated from a wartime initiative launched by the U.S. War Department, which sought a company to develop a jet-propelled bomber to equal those being fielded by Nazi Germany, such as the Arado Ar 234. Following a competitive review of the submissions, the War Department issued a contract to North American to develop its NA-130 proposal; on 8 September 1944, work commenced on the assembly of three prototypes. However, progress on the program was delayed by post-war cutbacks in defense expenditure, but soon regained importance due to growing tensions between America and the Soviet Union. On 2 January 1947, North American was issued with a production contract for the bomber by the USAF, which had been designated B-45A. On 24 February 1947, the first prototype performed its maiden flight.

Soon after its entry to service on 22 April 1948, early B-45 operations were troubled by technical problems, particularly low levels of engine reliability. The USAF found the type to be quite useful during the Korean War, it was used to perform both conventional bombing and aerial reconnaissance missions in this theatre. On 4 December 1950, the first successful interception of a jet bomber by a jet fighter occurred when a B-45 was shot down by a Soviet-built MiG-15 while inside Chinese airspace. During the early 1950s, a total of 40 B-45s were extensively modified so that they could be equipped with nuclear weapons; for this purpose, improvements were made to their defensive systems and the fuel tankage was expanded to increase the type's survivability and range.

In its heyday, the B-45 become an important element of the United States' defense strategy, performing the strategically-critical deterrence mission for several years during the early 1950s, after which time the Tornado was quickly superseded by the larger and more capable Boeing B-47 Stratojet. Both bomber-orientated B-45s and reconnaissance-orientated RB-45s served in quantity in the USAF's Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959. The USAF withdrew the last examples of the type in favour of the more advanced Convair B-58 Hustler, an early supersonic bomber. The Tornado was also adopted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and operated from bases in Britain, where it was repeatedly used to overfly the Soviet Union on various intelligence-related missions. The RAF operated the type until it had introduced its own indigenously-developed jet bomber fleet, initially in the form of the English Electric Canberra.

Robert H. Widmer

Robert Henry Widmer (May 17, 1916 – June 20, 2011) was an American aeronautical engineer who specialized in designing aircraft for the military. He spent his career working for Convair which became General Dynamics, then Lockheed, and then Lockheed Martin. His feisty personality and at times insubordinate attitude at one time led company leaders to strongly consider firing him. However, his brilliance at envisioning and designing desirable aircraft years before there was even a market for them led to his appointment as Vice President for science and engineering for all of General Dynamics.Born in Hawthorne, New Jersey, Widmer earned degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the California Institute of Technology. He began his career working for the California division of Convair, initially as a designer of marine aircraft. He eventually joined the company's main branch in Fort Worth, Texas, where he notably designed the Convair B-58 Hustler which was the first United States Air Force's bomber capable of Mach 2. He went on to lead the design teams for the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. In 1983 he was awarded the Reed Aeronautics Award by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In 1962, he was awarded the Spirit of St. Louis Medal by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his work in aeronautics. In 2007, he was inducted into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame.Widmer died in Fort Worth, Texas in 2011 at the age of 95.

Uragan Soviet automatic air defense interception system

The Uragan-1 was the first generation of a Soviet automatic air defense interception system, and was a component of the Soviet Air Defence Forces protivovozdushnaya oborona strany (PVO Strany). The concept began with a Soviet Council of Ministers resolution dated February 26, 1955 and the Ministry of Aviation Industry order dated March 8, 1955. The resolutions were in response to the threat from long-range supersonic bombers such as the United States' Convair B-58 "Hustler" and the equally threatening British Vickers Valiant, among others. The current generation is the Uragan-5B.

Weapon system

Weapon System was a United States Armed Forces military designation scheme for experimental weapons (e.g., WS-220) before they received an official name — e.g., under a military aircraft designation system. The new designator reflected the increasing complexity of weapons that required separate development of auxiliary systems or components.

In November 1949, the Air Force decided to build the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger around a fire-control system. This was "the real beginning of the weapon system approach [and the] aircraft would be integrated into the weapon system "as a whole from the beginning, so the characteristics of each component were compatible with the others".Around February 1950, an Air Research and Development Command "study prepared by Maj Gen Gordon P. Saville...recommended that a 'systems approach' to new weapons be adopted [whereby] development of a weapon "system" required development of support equipment as well as the actual hardware itself."The earliest WS designation was the 1954 WS-117L.US weapon programs were often begun as numbered government specifications such as an Advanced Development Objective (e.g., ADO-40) or a General Operational Requirement (e.g., GOR.80), although some programs were initially identified by contractor numbers (e.g., CL-282).1Other weapons-programs designators included MX, for military experimental. The first Skunk Works program, dubbed MX-813, produced the Convair XF-92 in 1946),

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Military transports
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USAAS/USAAC/USAAF/USAF bomber designations, Army/Air Force and Tri-Service systems
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