|Convair B-58 Hustler|
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. - WikipediaThat 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!
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.|
|Four afterburning J-79 engines!|
|A SAC Beauty|
|A true classic|