In 1948, the USAF was interested in a supersonic nuclear bomber. In 1949, Convair proposed to built a supersonic bomber. Convair decided to built a jet bomber, as opposed to turboprop, bomber. Their design they produced was a delta-winged bomber with a jet engine in the tail, one under each wing, and one in a dropable payload pod which was called a parasite. The pod went from the nose to the tail, so two nose gears were required: one in the fuselage, and one in the pod. The one in the pod dropped off after takeoff. However, the nose gear dropping off and landing in some city was a problem, so the pod was shortened and one nose gear was used.
During development, it was apparent that the bomber would not have the planned 4800-7250 km (3000-4500 mile) range, so carrying the whole bomber on a B-36, then having it be dropped, accelerate to Mach 1.6, drop its bombs, pod and wing engines, and return at a high speed with only the tail engine to the B-36. After several redesigns, a area-ruled fuselage with four jets in pods and a dorsal pod with a bomb was decided on, in September 1953. Boeing was working on its B-59, which would be the competition for the B-58. On 9 October 1952 both companies submitted their designs and the USAF chose the B-58, for it seemed to be a more capable aircraft. In August 1954 the engines were changed from having two to a pod to having each one in a seperate pod and the wingtip fuel tanks were removed. On 31 August 1956 the first YB-58 was rolled out. At that time it was the most advanced aircraft in the world. Taxi test began on 29 October. The first flight was on November 11, 1956. It took off from Convair's Fort Worth plant and came back in and landed. The elapsed time for the fligt was 38 minutes. The USAF ordered seven more prototypes, to make a total of 20. The first production B-58 was delivered on 1 December 1959, to SAC's Caswell AFB. It was the first supersonic strategic bomber in the world. On 15 March, 1960, the 43rb Bomb Wing at Caswell was the first wing with B-58s. The second B-58 bomb wing was the 305th, based at Bunker Hill (now Grissom) AFB in Indiana and the 43rd was moved to Little Rock AFB. However, in the late 1960s, the DoD decided to dismantle all the B-58s and replace them with ICBMs. That decision came on 29 October 1969 and it was effective 31 January 1970.
There was no other good aircraft to train pilots for the B-58 on, all other delta wings being too small for a realistic flight, so the USAF requested a trainer version of the B-58. Eight TB-58As were built from salvaging the best parts from the YB-58s. The first one made its first flight on 10 May 1960. The TB-58A replaced the navigator/bombardier with the instructor. The instructor's cockpit was enlarged and fitted with throttles, a control stick, duplicate brakes, and a nose wheel steering switch.
|B-58A Hustler Specifications|
|Type||High-speed high-altitude long-range strategic bomber|
|Powerplant||Four GE J-79s, producing 46.7 kN (10500 lb) thrust, or 71.2 kN (16000 lb) at full afterburner.|
|Accommodation||Pilot, navigator/bombardier, and defense systems operator in tandem|
|Armament||Nuclear weapons in the ventral weapons pod and on wing hardpoints; a M61 cannon in the tail|
|Cruise speed||982 km/h (530kt)|
|Combat radius||2820km (1520nm)|
|Range||8095km (4366nm) without midair refueling|
|Rate of Climb||5440mpm (17830fpm)|
|Combat Ceiling||19760m (64800 ft)|
|Zoom Climb Altitude||26028m (85360 ft)|
|G Limit||+3, -2|
|Empty||25224kg (55560 lb)|
|MTOW||74000kg (163000 lb)|
|Maximum Weight with Aerial Refueling||80360kg (177000 lb)|
|Wingspan||17.3m (56ft 10in)|
|Length||29.5m (96ft 9in)|
|Height||9.56m (31ft 5in)|
|Wing area||152m² (1542sq ft)|