It’s been a very B-58 weekend for me. It’s pretty common for me to do a little googlin’ of the Convair B-58 Hustler on a regular basis, but this weekend I lit the afterburners. As a result, this week’s gonna be ‘B-58 Week’ at AirPigz.com. In addition to at least 1 regular post a day, you can expect 1 Hustler post a day as well.
I’m kicking it off here on Sunday night with this CoolPix in the Modern Military category. At first glance it looks like your run-of-the-mill B-58 (ha, like a B-58 could ever be called rotm!), but it’s far from it. That’s not the traditional fuel tank/weapon pod hanging under the airplane, it’s a 5th and even more powerful turbojet engine! The GE J93 to be exact. That’s the engine that was specifically designed for use on the Mach 3 XB-70. The engine was ready to fly before the XB-70, so it was decided that some inflight testing would be a good idea. Thus the NB-58A was born. BTW, I've removed a lot of the scratches and other blemishes from this old original pic so it's sure to look good when you check out out super sized.
The standard GE J79 turbojet engines on the B-58 developed around 15,000 pounds of thrust with afterburner, but this extra J-93 engine was rated around 28,000 pounds with afterburner! Just imagine an airplane like the B-58, which was already capable of flying at 60,000+ feet, able to go Mach 2, and had a gross-weight rate of climb of over 17,000 feet per minute... just imagine what a 28,000 pound kick in the butt would do. Well, interestingly enuf, imagine may be exactly what we have to do here. My research indicates that the funding for this research project was cancelled the day before the first flight. (you gotta be kidding!) Ground runs had been made, but it appears that the NB-58A never actually flew with the J-93 engine installed.
The airplane pictured is #55-662, the 3rd B-58 to be built. First flight was on May 6, 1957. Can you even believe that? Here’s an airplane that looks like it coulda been designed and built just yesterday, yet it was in the air when Chevy was building the iconic 57 Bel Air! No matter how you look at it, the B-58 is a stunning accomplishment of design and engineering.
Tho #55-662 never flew with that J-93 engine, it was later one of the 8 aircraft converted to the TB-58A, the trainer version that added an instructor seat behind the pilot, and it then spent some time as a chase plane for the XB-70. This airplane set a record of 256 sorties flown without a missed or late takeoff… pretty impressive It’s also special to me in that it was one B-58’s from the 305th Bomb Wing that operated out of Peru, Indiana at Bunker Hill AFB (later Grissom AFB), which just happens to be an hour down the road from me. That made it pretty easy for me just yesterday to go get a load of pix of the 4th B-58 to be built, aircraft #55-663, which is on outdoor display at the Grissom Air Museum. It’s one of only 8 B-58’s that still exist. You'll see some of those pix later in ‘B-58 Week’ : )