Friday, February 21, 2014

The Friday Flyby - 21 February

Convair B-58 Hustler
When I began to ponder what to post for this week's Flyby, I noticed that this week we had seen the F-102 Delta Dart and the F-106 Delta Dagger, both of which sported a delta wing configuration, both of which had been built by Convair. But it was another Convair product which sprang to mind as the subject for this week's Flyby.
The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first operational supersonic jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. The aircraft was designed by Convair engineer Robert H. Widmer and developed for the United States Air Force for service in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the 1960s. It used a delta wing, which was also employed by Convair fighters such as the F-102, with four General Electric J79 engines in pods under the wing. It carried a nuclear weapon and fuel in a large pod under the fuselage rather than in an internal bomb bay. Replacing the Boeing B-47 Stratojet medium bomber, it was originally intended to fly at high altitudes and supersonic speeds to avoid Soviet fighters. The B-58 received a great deal of notoriety due to its sonic boom, which was often heard by the public as it passed overhead in supersonic flight. - Wikipedia
That sonic boom noted above, I did hear that as a kid. My brothers and I always got a huge kick out of hearing those. Living out in the boondocks (as we did), it wasn't often that we got to see or hear jet aircraft. But the occasional B-58 would motor on by (way up) and grace us with that loud sonic footprint.

It's another aircraft I had a model of as a kid. I seem to recall it came as part of a two aircraft set. The other bird being a KC-135 tanker. The B-58 even has her own web page!

B-58 being refueled by a KC-135
Operation Heat Rise, 1962

Now the Hustler had rather spindly-looking landing gear for such a big aircraft.

Pretty sweet ground clearance!

Not really intended for off-roading though...

No, the landing gear needed to be tall and spindly in order to accommodate the rather large combination fuel/weapons pod seen in the next photo.

B-58 with center line fuel/weapon pod installed

The aircraft also had an unusual ejection "pod".

B-58 Ejection Seat

Clam shell doors closed

Don't tell Rumbear, but it seems some of his cousins helped test this ejection system!

Say what?

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 made it possible to eject at an altitude of 70,000 ft (21,000 m) at speeds up to Mach 2 (1,320 mph/2,450 km/h). 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 would float, and the crewmember could open the clamshell, using it as a life raft. In an unusual test program, live bears and chimpanzees were successfully used to test the ejection system. - Wikipedia
I'm guessing the view from those back seats wasn't so good...

Testing the ejection system.

Take-off

Four afterburning J-79 engines!

Landing...

A SAC Beauty

XB-58 Prototype

A true classic

22 comments:

  1. Great article and some great pictures of a very impressive aircraft.

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  2. FAST! Such a cool aircraft. Nice post, as usual.

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    1. Well, I figured that since this was kind of a Convair delta-winged aircraft week, top it off with the biggest of 'em!

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  3. Convair made some interesting airplanes. On the civilian side, the 990 was the fastest non supersonic airliner. The 240 and derivatives were the DC-3s or their time. The original Frontier Airlines flew the 580 version. Those twin Allisons could power a full gross airplane out of Stapleton (Denver) on a hot summer day.The problem for all the aircraft manufacturers was Boeing, with a good product, and the best, or most ruthless - your choice- management.

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    1. I Googled those aircraft, good looking birds. Being able to lift a heavy aircraft out of Stapleton on a a hot day is no mean feat!

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    2. Here to tell you that a fully fueled 3 bag F4E will take all 11000' of runway at Buckley at 11AM on a July morning. That exciting takeoff was followed by a call from Departure Control to "Expedite Climb". To which I responded, "This is all the Expedite, I got".

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    3. Hot, thin air will (as I understand things) make life "interesting" for an aviator.

      I think you just provided proof of that Juvat. (And I like your response to Departure Control. Gotta remember that one!)

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    4. Those Allisons were torque limited. Surely no crew over went over the limit.

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  4. Great choice for a flyby. I remember as a boy building a model of this beauty that even featured a spring loaded pilot ejection seat feature. I think I lost my pilot in the floor furnace! It was a Viking demise.

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    1. Damn!

      I suppose it's better than the fate of many of my pilots, getting sucked out of their cockpits into the vacuum cleaner.

      Having my Mom vacuum my room was like a tornado hitting an airbase. Pilots missing in action, canopies off, pitot tubes and antennae snapped off, landing gear collapsed. It was hideous.

      When I complained, my Dad suggested I actually dust my own room and actually glue the pilots into their seats and permanently affix the canopies the same way. As I liked to play with my model aircraft, I had to ask, "Then how will a pilot bail out if his aircraft if it's too badly damaged to stay in the air?"

      Both parents just kinda shook their heads.

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  5. I think the Hustler was one of the most beautiful airframes in the entire USAF inventory, ever.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Gotta agree, Buck, although there's a certain twin tailed fighter that's a close competitor.

      Comment deleted to correct punctuation error as required by ROE.

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    3. We have ROE here?

      The Hustler was a beauty, that twin-tailed light gray bird is also pretty nice.

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    4. Well, I was replying to the god of punctuation. Didn't want to incur his wrath!

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  6. As someone else has mentioned, the Hustler was one of my very first plastic models. The first? P-80.

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    1. Ah yes, the P-80. Which was in last Friday's Flyby.

      I had a really awesome model of the T-33. You could actually remove the tail and pull the engine. Very detailed cockpit.

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    2. The P-80! I built one as a boy and carefully balanced the aircraft with lead split-shot. When so balanced the plane would gently glide from one end of the bathtub to the other with an absolute perfect landing near the big chrome command post, I mean drain.....

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    3. Good story Lou. I like the "big chrome command post".

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  7. I love it when I come here and find a plane I've never heard of or seen before. I'm sure there are many more. Keep 'em coming!

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    1. You'd never heard of the B-58? Wow, Tuna you ARE young. (I mean compared to a lot of us old Phantom guys...)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)