During Operation Greased Lightning on Oct. 16, 1963, Maj. Sidney J. Kubesch flew a B-58 Hustler belonging to the 305th Bombardment Wing at Bunker Hill Air Force Base, Ind., on the longest supersonic flight to date. He flew 8,028 miles from Tokyo to London in eight hours, 35 minutes. The B-58 used five inflight refuelings and flew at an average speed of 938 mph.
He set two other records in this effort: speed from Tokyo to Anchorage, three hours, nine minutes, 42 seconds at 1,093.4 mph; and speed from Anchorage to London, five hours, 24 minutes, 54 seconds at 826.9 mph.
On May 26, 1961, a B-58 from the 43d Bombardment Wing flew from New York to Paris setting three separate speed records and earning the crew the Bendix and Mackay Trophies for 1962. The flight was complete in three hours, 19 minutes, 41 seconds at an average speed of 1,302 mph. The delta-wing Convair Hustler was the first U. S. Air Force supersonic operational bomber.
Distinctive B-58 features included its sophisticated inertial guidance navigation and bombing system, slender “wasp-waist” fuselage, and extensive use of heat-resistant honeycomb sandwich skin panels in the wings and fuselage. The thin fuselage prevented internal carriage of bombs so an external droppable two-component pod beneath the fuselage contained extra fuel and a nuclear weapon, reconnaissance equipment or other specialized gear. The B-58 crew consisted of a pilot, navigator-bombardier and defense systems operator. The B-58 made its initial flight on Nov. 11, 1956 and flew supersonically on Dec. 30, 1956
The Air Force ordered 86 Hustlers, which were operational in the Strategic Air Command between 1960 and 1970. B-58s set 19 world speed and altitude records and won five different aviation trophies. Despite its successes, the Hustler had limitations in range, payload and growth potential.
There were a total of 116 B-58s built: 30 test and pre-production aircraft and 86 for inventory.
The last B-58 was retired in January 1970, about three months after the first FB-111 was accepted by SAC. The aircraft was phased out of the inventory after only 10 years of service.