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Frank Piasecki exhibition — home



The Hustler has the distinction of being world's first supersonic jet bomber, capable of reaching a speed of Mach 2. Designed by Robert H. Widmer in the 1960s, it was built by a chain of contractor companies. The aircraft featured delta wings under which four jet engines were attached. The Hustler was intended to serve in Strategic Air Command carrying nuclear weapons, its high speed was a means of avoiding interception by Soviet fighter planes. However, the advancement in Soviet anti-aircraft technology rendered the B-58 obsolete soon after it entered service.

One of the problems posed by operating at high speeds is the evacuation of the crew, should the plane be damaged. A team of engineers of Stanley Aviation based in Denver, among them Jerzy Dabrowski, was responsible for designing adequate ejection system. Since using a typical ejection seat at speeds above 650 mph was immensely hazardous, he conceived an escape capsule fitted with rocket propulsion, a parachute and flotation cells which could be ejected or used for temporary shelter in the event of oxygen loss. The capsule was equipped with flight controls, so the pilot could make a descent to an altitude at which pressurization and oxygen systems were no longer needed.

Specifications (B-58A)

wingspan: 56 ft 9 in (17.3 m)
length: 96 ft 10 in (29.5 m)
max. takeoff weight: 176,890 lb (80,240 kg)
max. speed: Mach 2.0 (1,319 mph)
ceiling: 63,400 ft (19,300 m)
range: 4,030 mi (3,500 nmi, 6,480 km)
powerplant: four General Electric J79-GE-5A turbojets