11 November 1956

Convair XB-58 55-0660 in its original paint scheme. (Unattributed)
Beryl Arthur Erickson (1916–2006)
Beryl Arthur Erickson (1916–2006) (Code One Magazine)

11 November 1956: At Fort Worth, Texas, Convair’s Chief Test Pilot, Beryl Arthur Erickson, takes the prototype XB-58, serial number 55-0660, on its first flight.

The B-58 Hustler was a high-altitude Mach 2 strategic bomber which served with the United States Air Force from 1960 to 1970. It was crewed by a pilot, navigator/bombardier and a defensive systems operator, located in individual cockpits. The aircraft has a delta-winged configuration similar to the Convair F-102A Delta Dagger and F-106 Delta Dart supersonic interceptors.

The Hustler is 96 feet, 10 inches (29.5 meters) long, with a wing span of 56 feet, 10 inches (17.3 meters). The tip of the vertical fin is 31 feet 5 inches (9.5 meters) high. The maximum weight is 168,000 pounds (79,936 kilograms). The wings’ leading edges are swept back at a 60° angle, and the fuselage incorporates the “area rule” which resulted in a “wasp waist” or “Coke bottle” shape for a significant reduction in aerodynamic drag. The airplane’s only control surfaces are two “elevons” and a rudder, and there are no flaps.

Convair XB-58 Hustler 55-0660. (U.S. Air Force)

The B-58A was powered by four General Electric J79-GE-5 axial-flow afterburning turbojet engines, suspended under the wings from pylons. This was a single-shaft engine with a 17-stage compressor and 3-stage turbine, rated at 10,300 pounds of thrust (45.82 kilonewtons), and 15,600 pounds (69.39 kilonewtons) with afterburner. The J79-GE-5 was 16 feet, 10.2 inches (5.136 meters) long and 3 feet, 2.0 inches (0.965 meters) in diameter.

Convair XB-58 Hustler 55-0660 rotates during a high-speed taxi test. (U.S. Air Force)

The bomber had a cruise speed of 610 miles per hour (982 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 1,325 miles per hour (2,132 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 64,800 feet (19,751 meters). Its unrefueled range was 4,400 miles (7,081 kilometers).

116 were built and they served the Strategic Air Command until January 1970 when they were sent to Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona for long-term storage.

Convair XB-58 55-0660 touches down on the runway following a test flight. (Unattributed)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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Source: This Day in Aviation