Convair B-58A Hustler

The delta-wing Hustler was the first USAF supersonic operational bomber. The B-58 made its initial flight on Nov. 11, 1956 and flew supersonically on Dec. 30, 1956. Distinctive B-58 features included its sophisticated inertial guidance navigation and bombing system, slender "wasp-waist" fuselage, and extensive use of heat-resistant honeycomb sandwich skin panels in the wings and fuselage. The thin fuselage prevented internal carriage of bombs so an external droppable two-component pod beneath the fuselage contained extra fuel and a nuclear weapon, reconnaissance equipment, or other specialized gear. The B-58 crew consisted of a pilot, navigator-bombardier, and defence systems operator.

The USAF ordered 86 Hustlers which were operational in the Strategic Air Command between 1960 and 1970. B-58s set 19 world speed and altitude records and won five different aviation trophies. Note: There were a total of 116 B-58s built: 30 test and pre-production aircraft and 86 for inventory.

Span: 56 ft. 10 in.
Length: 96 ft. 10 in.
Height: 31 ft. 5 in.
Weight: 163,000 lbs. max.
Armament: One 20mm cannon in tail; nuclear weapons in pod or on under-wing pylons
Engines: Four General Electric J79s of 15,000 lbs. thrust ea. with afterburner
Cost: $12,442,000

Maximum speed: 1,325 mph
Cruising speed: 610 mph.
Range: 4,400 miles without aerial refuelling
Service Ceiling: 64,800 ft.