Convair B-58

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Convair B-58 Hustler
B-58 Hustler.jpg
B-58A "Hustler" of the US Air Force
Type: Strategic bomber
Design country:

United StatesUnited States United States


Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation

First flight:

November 11, 1956


March 15, 1960

Production time:

1955 to 1964

Number of pieces:


The Convair B-58 Hustler was a four-engine , supersonic, long-range bomber of the Cold War era from US production. Developed in the 1950s, it was used as a nuclear weapon carrier by the Strategic Air Command until 1970 .


Convair B-58 in flight (June 1967)

The development program leading to the Convair B-58 began in 1949. The Boeing XB-59 appeared as a competing design . However, this was canceled at the end of 1952 and the Convair B-58 was commissioned. The Convair B-58 Hustler had its maiden flight on November 11, 1956. Until the appearance of the MiG-21, the machine was faster than all Soviet interceptors .

A total of 116 aircraft were built, including 30 test and 86 series aircraft. The B-58 was in service in two US Air Force strategic bomber squadrons until December 31, 1969 . The introduction of anti-aircraft missile systems by the Soviet Union forced the aircraft type into operational profiles for which it had not been developed: the B-58 could fly supersonic low-level flight missions, but only with a reduced range and a loss in flight performance. These weaknesses, the accident frequency of the model and the high maintenance and servicing costs finally led to the end of the program and from 1965 to the gradual decommissioning of the Convair B-58.


The B-58 set numerous records between 1960 and 1963 . On May 10, 1961, a crew consisting of Major Elmer Murphy, Major Eugene Moses and Lieutenant David Dickerson won the prize awarded by French aviation pioneer Louis Blériot in 1930 for the first pilot to fly at 2000 km / h for 30 minutes. Major William Payne, Captain William Polhelmus and Captain Raymond Wagener needed 3 hours, 19 minutes and 58 seconds for the route New York - Paris on May 26, 1961 - however, the B-58 was refueled three times during the flight . For this they were awarded the Mackay and Harmon trophies .

USAF B-58 Hustler out of service


A B-58 from the front

Like the F-102 Delta Dagger and F-106 Delta Dart fighter aircraft developed at the same time by Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation , the B-58 was provided with delta wings . For the first time, the fuselage of a bomber had to be designed according to the area rule in order to be able to achieve the required performance in supersonic flight . A special feature was the large, aerodynamically shaped, ejectable container with tail fins at the end, which the B-58 carried under its slim fuselage. In addition to additional fuel, it contained a free-falling nuclear weapon .

The B-58 was the first combat aircraft with a central on-board computer that combined the control of the numerous assemblies.

The delta wings had combined elevators and ailerons on the trailing edge , but no landing flaps . Because of the high landing speed, the B-58 therefore used a braking parachute . The two inner engines were attached to engine pylons very far in front of the wing leading edge. The two outer engines, on the other hand, hung almost at the wing tips directly under the wings and protruded much less far from the wing edge. The three-man crew sat one behind the other in a cockpit in the narrow fuselage. Each seat was in an escape pod . The undercarriage had nose wheels with double tires and an axle support with two axles with four wheels each under each wing. The Convair B-58 had a total of eighteen wheels.

The four General Electric J79 - Turbojet -Triebwerke with afterburner sat in almost tubular engine nacelles and had in the center of the air intakes each a conical inlet diffuser to control the speed of the incoming air to reduce to subsonic speed during supersonic flight.


according to Andrade, 1979, CF stands for the manufacturer code Consolidated (Convair), Fort Worth .

two prototypes (55-660 / 661)
eleven pre-production and test aircraft (55-662 / 672)
(55-662 was used as NB-58A-CF for a short time as a flying test stand for the General Electric J93 )
17 pre-production aircraft (58-1007 / 1023)
received a reconnaissance container as RB-58A-CF
86 pieces, series production
  • B-58A-10-CF (36 pieces, 59-2428 / 2463)
  • B-58A-15-CF (20 pieces, 60-1110 / 1129)
  • B-58A-20-CF (30 pieces, 61-2051 / 2080)
further modifications
eight YB-58A-CF (55-661 / 663, 668, 670/672, 58-1007) were converted as TB-58A-CFs into two-seater training aircraft
The Convair Model 58-9 was a planned, non-built, supersonic passenger jet derived from the Convair B-58 Hustler bomber.


Approval of the B-58 by the USAF:

version 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 TOTAL
YB-58A 7th 8th         15th
YRB-58A   1 14th       15th
B-58A     1 16 42 27 86
TOTAL 7th 9 15th 16 42 27 116

After the completion of the 15 YB-58A, all aircraft were converted to the reconnaissance aircraft YRB-58A by June 30, 1959. Between 1960 and 1963, 13 YRB-58A were converted into B-58A. Another 8 YRB-58A were converted to trainer TB-58A between 1961 and 1965. In 1964 there was 1 NB-58A. In the first half of 1971 the still existing 76 B-58A and 7 TB-58A were decommissioned. Most of the rest had been lost through accidents (total of 25: 16 B-58A, 8 YRB-58A, 1 TB-58A). Especially at the beginning there were obvious problems with the aircraft: Between July 1, 1958 and June 30, 1960, 7 YRB-58A were killed in an accident, 6 of them in aircraft accidents.


The entire B-58 program suffered from a high failure and accident rate. The aircraft type was difficult to fly and very difficult to keep in the air if one of the four engines failed in supersonic flight. During the service life of the B-58 from its first flight in 1956 to the end of 1970, 25 of a total of 116 aircraft were lost in aircraft accidents - an accident rate of over 20 percent. 17 (according to another source 36) crew members were killed. Examples:

  • On June 3, 1961, during the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, a US Air Force B-58 (registration number 59-2451 ) crashed while performing aerobatic maneuvers from the lowest altitude. All three crew members were killed.
  • On December 8, 1964, a B-58 ( 60-1116 ) equipped with five atomic bombs caught fire while taxiing during an alarm exercise on Bunker Hill Air Force Base (now Grissom Air Force Base ) in Peru (Indiana) . The bombs were only damaged by the fire; a navigation officer was killed trying to rescue him.
  • On June 15, 1965, again during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport, a B-58 landed on the runway and was written off ( 59-2443 ). In a time constraint due to operational reasons at the airfield, the pilot decided on an overload landing without a rapid fuel discharge and missed the runway in an approach that was too short.

Technical specifications

Three-sided tear
  • Length: 29.49 m
  • Span: 17.32 m
  • Height: 9.58 m
  • Wing area: 143.25 m²
  • Empty weight: 29,081 kg
  • Max. Takeoff weight: 73,936 kg
  • Max. Flight mass: 80,235 kg
  • Propulsion: four General Electric J79-GE-5A turbojet engines with 69.3 kN thrust each
  • Top speed: 2300 km / h at 12,000 m
  • Service ceiling: 19,324 m
  • Range: 3219 km
  • Transfer range : 4718 km
  • Armament: a radar-controlled 20 mm Gatling cannon T-171E in the stern for self-protection and initially an MB-1C weapon container with a W39Y1-1 nuclear weapon under the fuselage. Instead of the one-piece MB-1C in which the weapon and fuel were carried together in one container, the USAF introduced the two-part TCP container ( Two-Component Pod ) from 1960 . The weapon component here was a B53-Y1 (Mk.53) nuclear weapon. As an alternative or in addition, four nuclear free-fall bombs of the type B43 (Mk. 43) or B61 (Mk. 61) could be used at external load stations from around 1961 .


  • Jay Miller: Convair B-58 Hustler. Aerofax: Aerograph 4, Midland 1985, ISBN 0-942548-26-4 .
  • Jay Miller: History of the Hustler. Airpower, Vol. 6, No. July 4, 1976.

Web links

Commons : Convair B-58  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. Patrick Hoveler: Convair B-58 Aviation Classic 6/04
  3. B-58A Escape Capsule. Retrieved January 28, 2020 (English).
  4. ^ John M. Andrade: US Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909 , Midland Counties Publ., 1979; P. 57
  5. Statistical Digest of the USAF 1957, p. 97; 1958, p. 72; 1959, p. 68; 1960, p. 62; 1961, p. 70; 1962, p. 72
  6. Statistical Digest of the USAF 1958–1971, table "US Aircraft Gains and Losses"
  7. List of accidents with Convair B-58 , Aviation Safety Network WikiBase , accessed on July 26, 2018.
  8. Jacques Noetinger: Histoire de l'Aéronautique Française 1940–1980 . Editions France – Empire, Paris 1983, p. 23.
  9. ^ Accident report B-58 Hustler 59-2451 , Aviation Safety Network WikiBase , accessed on June 14, 2016.
  10. ^ Accident report B-58 Hustler 60-1116 , Aviation Safety Network WikiBase , accessed on July 26, 2018.
  11. B-58 falls at Paris Air Show on (Engl.)
  12. ^ Accident report B-58 Hustler 59-2443 , Aviation Safety Network WikiBase , accessed on June 14, 2016.
  13. ^ Bill Yenne: Convair Deltas, From SeaDart to Hustler , Specialty Press, 2009, pp. 175, 178, 199