B-58 Hustler Units Book Review

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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

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472836405

ISBN-13: 978-1472836403

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.

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Convair XFY-1 Pogo in 1/72 Scale

The Convair XFY-1 Pogo was a US Navy experimental prototype which flew in 1954.  It was designed as a shipboard VTOL aircraft which was to provide small combatants and even merchant ships with an air defense capability.   While the prototype flew successfully it proved difficult to land vertically on shore bases, to say nothing of the much more challenging shipboard environment for which it was intended.  It was also outclassed by the rapid advances in aviation of the time, for example the MiG-21 would first fly the next year in 1955.

In pictures of the real aircraft you can see various metal panels, but no panel lines.  The recessed panel lines on the KP kit are very prominent.  I sprayed them with Mr. Surfacer 500, which is ideal for this kind of job.  The model has a scratchbuilt cockpit with Eduard belts, Albion tube pitots, and the castor wheels were drilled out and rebuilt with wire stock and tube.  The kit canopy is excellent, a nice surprise.  Decals were a low point, and there is no help from the aftermarket on this one.  Almost all the markings are scaled incorrectly in size or layout.  For example, the Convair logo behind the cockpit is twice the size it should be.  The NAVY lettering is the wrong size and spacing.  The white bar (or is it a “1”?) under the cockpit is missing, as are the white outlines on the canopy frames.  Ironically, the art on the back of the box has accurate marking dimensions.  I replaced what I could, and will just have to live with the rest.  Other than that, a relatively simple build of an aircraft you don’t see everyday.

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Convair B-36 Peacemaker Models Are Big. Really, Really Big.

It is big.  That is the first impression, and it is undeniable.  It is the biggest model airplane I have ever seen.  Is it the biggest model airplane in the world?  Reportedly not, but a brief search reveals the all-knowing internet is thoroughly confused on that point.  It is, well, big.  And impressive.

How big is it?  It is a 1/9th scale B-36, with a wingspan of 26 feet.  It was built by James Pappas in his mother’s attic in 1952, at the same time Convair was building the real thing at Fort Worth.  Think about 1952 for a minute – no CAD, no scale plans, no internet, no fancy tools.  A drill, a saw, a miter box, and a whole lot of Balsa.  The model was built to a flying standard, but there is debate about whether it was ever actually flown.  The story of the model is here:  http://www.rchalloffame.org/Exhibits/Exhibit41/index.html

Last week Ed Crotty of the RC Hall of Fame donated the model to the Academy of Model Aeronautics in Muncie, Indiana.  I went along to help move the model, which was a bit of an adventure!

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The model was living comfortably in the ceiling of a basement in Cleveland.  It was supported by wires anchored into the overhead, and ladders had been propped under strategic points to support it during the move.  Still a nice looking model after sixty seven years!
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Ed Crotty (on the left) discusses the move plan with Michael Smith, Director of the National Model Aviation Museum.  Even with the vertical tail removed the model still was a “head knocker.”  The aft ends of the engine nacelles are visible on the upper right.
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The nose section seen from under the wing.  Interestingly, there was canopy ribbing but no sign of glazing on either the canopy or the nose section.  The gunners’ sighting domes are represented, as are a range of SAC insignia and unit markings.  These markings were vinyl so would have been added after the original construction.  There are no markings present on the vertical tail.
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The propellers, jet engine pods, and flaps had been removed beforehand to facilitate the move.  The model was originally equipped with 1950’s vintage engines, including the jets.  It was built to run under power so it could taxi on its own at the very least.
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Ed demonstrates the bomb bay door operation for Michael.  All four bomb bays featured operable doors, which still worked easily after all the years.  One has to admire the workmanship and planning needed to pull off a model like this.
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The landing gear was operational and fully retractable.  The gear doors and flaps were also articulated, but had been removed prior to moving the model.
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A view up into the wing box from below.  The bronze rods extend deep into the wings, their original purpose is not obvious but it was eventually determined that they were part of the gear retraction mechanism.  The rod below the bell crank was intended to be on top, it being wedged under the crank necessitated removal of much of the hardware shown here before the wings could be released from the fuselage.
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Some of the “smaller” components outside on blankets, waiting to be loaded.  The model was designed to be broken down into assemblies to make transportation more manageable.  Some of the structure of the tail section is visible, hinting at the intricacy of the assembly.
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Most modelers secure their projects into various sorts of boxes to transport them to shows.  Here Michael secures the B-36 model into a box truck.  Every bit of the floor space of the cargo box was needed.
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The nose section is a separate assembly, and shows off some of the internal structure in this view.  While there were original engines with the model, there were no radios or evidence of radios ever being mounted within the model.  Perhaps Mr. Pappas intended to mount a radio receiver on the platform visible here at the rear of the nose section.