Thursday, November 8, 2012

Plast from the past, B-58 Hustler

I have always admired the B-58 Hustler it was to me just a bad ass looking aircraft. While it had one of the shortest in service life’s for a bomber (1960 – 1970) it was innovative in many ways. The B-58 was designed from the start as a supersonic bomber. It has many innovations including the first wide spread use of honeycomb construction and the use of a very unique ejection capsule to allow the crew to escape the aircraft at high altitude and Mach numbers.

The B-58 was powered by four afterburning General Electric J-79 turbojet engine like were used in the F-4 Phantom. It was manned by a crew of three, Pilot, Navigator and Defensive system operator sitting in a tandem type arrangement with each man in his own cockpit. The B-58 also had for its day very advanced avionics to include the Sperry AN/ASQ-42 bombing/navigation system combined sophisticated inertial navigation with the KS-39 astro-tracker to provide heading reference, and the AN/APN-113dopler radar to provide ground velocity and windspeed data, search radar to provide range data for bomb release and trajectory, and a radio altimeter. These systems together gave the B-58 a very accurate bombing capability.

The B-58 was normally armed with one nuclear weapon carried in the TCP two component pod slung on the centerline. The TCP allowed the weapon and extra fuel to be carried and gave the pilot the ability to jettison the lower half fuel cell to clean up the aircraft aerodynamically. The Hustler was capable of Mach 2 cruise at altitude, this capability was lost and its range was further limited as new low altitude penetration missions were undertaken do to the increased capability of Soviet SAM systems. In the end the Hustler was retired and replaced by the General Dynamics FB-111 that served SAC for many years until the wall came down.

Here are a few shots of the B-58 Hustler in action.

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