The B-58 Hustler was designed to fly at high altitudes and supersonic speeds to deliver a single nuclear weapon into enemy territory. The aircraft featured 4 powerful General Electric J79-GE-5A afterburning turbojet engines and a delta wing. It was the first bomber capable of Mach 2 fight.
The airplane featured a three man crew and required a heavy workload to fly. Nonetheless, the B-58 Hustler set 19 world speed records including the longest supersonic flight in history. The flight took place in 1963 travelling from Tokyo to London (via Alaska). It covered a total distance of 8,028 miles in 8 hours, 35 minutes, 20.4 seconds, averaging 938 miles per hour. Refueling during flight occurred 5 times during the flight. The record still stands today.
The B-58 won the Bleriot trophy, the Thompson trophy, the Mackay trophy, the Bendix trophy and the Harmon trophy.
With introduction of high-altitude surface-to-air missiles by the Soviet Union, the B-58 was forced to adopt a low-level-penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value. This incredible aircraft was retired after just 10 years of service.
This print shows the B-58 Hustler on a low-level, high-speed run over desert terrain.