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Wednesday
Mar312010

CoolPix - Modern Military: The Grissom Air Museum B-58 Hustler

(click pic for hi-res)

Here’s a second CoolPix already this week featuring Convair's awesome Mach 2 bomber!

 There are only 8 B-58 Hustlers still in existence today, and the oldest one happens to be sitting outside just an hour down the road from me.  It’s at the Grissom Air Museum which is on the old Grissom Air Force Base in Peru, Indiana.  The facility used to be called Bunker Hill AFB but was renamed Grissom in 1968 after Indiana native Virgil (Gus) Grissom perished in the Apollo 1 launchpad fire.  Today the base is known as the Grissom Air Reserve Base in conjunction with the Grissom Aeroplex. 

 The museum has a small building with several interesting artifacts, but the bulk of the displays are the airplanes sitting outside.  It’s quite a collection actually, including a B-47, B-17, B-25, KC-97, C-119, F-102, F-14 along with many others… and of course the B-58 shown in this picture that I took last Saturday.  As it sits, this is a TB-58A, the modified trainer version.  As the 4th airplane to come off the production line in Fort Worth, Texas, #55-663 was originally designated as a YB/RB-58A, one of the 11 pre-production aircraft.  116 Hustlers were built with the first one going into active service in 1960.  Interestingly, by early 1970, the B-58 was already being retired.  A lot of factors contributed to the relatively short service life of the airplane… I’ll get into that in another post.

 Only the 43rd Bombardment Wing (operating out of Carswell AFB in Texas and then Little Rock AFB in Arkansas) and the 305th Bombardment Wing at Bunker Hill flew the B-58.  That makes the stuff that went on just down the road from me a pretty huge part of U.S. Air Force history!  However, I was born in California in 1961 at the early part of the B-58 era, so I was a long way away from the Bunker Hill operations.  It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I would up in Indiana almost 10 years after the airplanes had stopped flying.  But I do remember being mesmerized by this awesome airplane as early as age 7, and I’m still very much stunned by her yet today!

 More 'B-58 Week’ coming soon : )

 

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Reader Comments (1)

Guardmount, a new novel available through amazon.com is set in and around Grissom Air Force Base in the 1970's, a few years after a nuclear armed B-58 has crashed on the base and mysteriously buried by the Strategic Air Command. This fictional story is inspired by the December 8 1964 crash of 60-1116 on base that tragically killed Capt. Manuel Cerventes.

April 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom Kelley

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