B-58 Hustler Units
By Peter E. Davis, illustrated by Jim Laurier
Osprey Combat Aircraft Series Book 130
Paperback, 96 pages, heavily illustrated, 30 color profiles
Published by Osprey Publishing October 2019
Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.3 x 9.8 inches
Unlike the vast majority of volumes in Osprey’s Combat Aircraft Series and despite the title, B-58 Hustler Units has very little to do with the units and more to do with the design of the aircraft.
The first chapter deals with the history and development of the delta wing planform in general. This traces the history back to the work of Alexander Lippisch and the many subsequent American designs that used this configuration. It was nice to see Richard Whitcomb’s discovery of the Area Rule phenomenon give recognition as well.
The next few chapters discuss the design of the Convair B-58 and describe in detail the specific systems incorporated into the aircraft. The design of the novel fuel / payload pod is a unique solution to the aircraft’s lack of internal volume. The discussion of the problems of crew ejection at supersonic speeds and the development of the cramped capsules to deal with the issue are enlightening.
It is not until approximately two-thirds of the way through the book that we see the first B-58s assigned to SAC Bomb Wings. Even there, much of the writing is concerned with describing SAC’s strategic plans and operating procedures.
The B-58 Hustler served in relatively small numbers and was operational for less than a decade. No B-58 ever saw combat, so it is not surprising that the setting of various speed records constitutes the most notable incidents in the type’s history. Personally, I enjoy reading about the technical issues the engineering teams had to solve to get the aircraft into service. Don’t be misled by the title however, the book has much more to do with the design and operational doctrine of the aircraft than a history of the units which flew them. Still very interesting and a good read.