61-2080 B-58A Hustler. Originally intended to fly at high altitudes and speeds to avoid Soviet fighters, the introduction of highly accurate Soviet surface-to-air missiles forced the B-58 into a low-level penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value. This led to a brief operational career between 1960 and 1969. Its specialized role was succeeded by other American supersonic bombers, such as the FB-111A and the later B-1B Lancer. 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.

Nose Shot of 61-2080 B-58A Hustler at the PIMA Air and Space Museum, 2009

The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first operational supersonic jet bomber, and the first capable of Mach 2 flight. The aircraft was developed for the United States Air Force for service in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the late 1950s. Originally intended to fly at high altitudes and speeds to avoid Soviet fighters, the introduction of highly accurate Soviet surface-to-air missiles forced the B-58 into a low-level penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value. This led to a brief operational career between 1960 and 1969. Its specialized role was succeeded by other American supersonic bombers, such as the FB-111A and the later B-1B Lancer. 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.

61-2080 B-58A Hustler. The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first operational supersonic jet bomber, and the first capable of Mach 2 flight. The aircraft was developed for the United States Air Force for service in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the late 1950s.

Side Shot of 61-2080 B-58A Hustler at the PIMA Air and Space Museum, 2009.

The genesis of the B-58 program came in February 1949, when a Generalized Bomber Study (GEBO II) had been issued by the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. A number of contractors submitted bids including Boeing, Convair, Curtiss, Douglas, Martin and North American Aviation.

Building on Convair’s experience of earlier delta-wing fighters, beginning with the XF-92A, a series of GEBO II designs were developed, initially studying swept and semi-delta configurations, but settling on the delta wing planform. The final Convair proposal, coded FZP-110, was a radical two-place, delta wing bomber design powered by General Electric J53 engines