b741
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B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:25 am

I heard that the B-58 was retired early in its life because of its high attrition rate and the pilots admitted their fear in flying the complex machine. This word got out to the "big boys" at the Pentagon, thus deciding on its retirement. Does this sound factual or were there other reasons?
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ramprat74
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:44 am

The B58 was first entered service in 1958. He was retired in 1970. I feel the air force didn't need a super sonic bomber anymore. The ICBM would do the better without two pilots.
 
FlagshipAZ
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Feb 14, 2004 10:05 am

I think that the fact the B-58 was a fuel hog had something to do with it as well. If Broke see this thread, I'm sure he can enlighten all of us further. Regards.
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HaveBlue
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Feb 14, 2004 3:20 pm

The B-58 was purpose built to take a nuclear bomb into the USSR. It wasn't a very good conventional bomb carrier. Hence, in Nam it was pretty much useless, unlike the B-52 which could carpet bomb. The B-58 was built to deliver a nuclear strike in a cold war enviroment. Fortunately, all our wars in the last 40 years have been conventional, and the B-58 doesn't fit that role at all. Beautiful airplane, but thankfully unneeded.
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IMissPiedmont
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:50 am

The B-58 had no useful range without the external tank and with the tank, it could not deliver its weapon. The fact is that the chance of it ever being able to penetrate Soviet defenses were zero doomed it.
The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
 
broke
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Mon Feb 16, 2004 11:59 am

The reasons given to me by an ex-B-58 pilot were twofold.
First, the B-58 had high maintenance costs; also known as a "Hangar Queen".
Second, the Air Force wanted FB-111's, which were more optimized for low level penetration. The budget people told the Air Force that they could have either B-58's or FB-111's, but not both.
Result, the B-58 was retired and the FB-111's were introduced.
 
AvObserver
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Thu Mar 04, 2004 11:14 am

Good calls, Broke but I'll add from my readings that then Defense Secretary Robert McNamara who strongarmed his "TFX" F-111 through development was also the biggest champion of the FB-111 bomber variant. The Air Force really wanted the AMSA (Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft), which became the B1-A but development and budgetary delays led to ordering the FB-111A as an interim medium bomber to augment the B-52 while the B1 was developed. The order was severely cutailed from about 250 airplanes to around 78 because the FB-111A was severely limited in ordinance by it's small size. A later proposed stretched FB-111H was also axed because it was still too small compared to the B-1A, though a lot cheaper to develop. You're dead on about the B-58, amazing as it was for its' time. The hot, nearly 200 mph landing speeds also helped make it a dangerous aircraft with a high attrition rate, as B741 said, though the FB-111A, like its' fighter breathren, was hardly much better.
 
broke
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Fri Mar 05, 2004 8:18 am

I was in the Air Defense Command, on a radar site, from October 1961 to September 1964. Yes, I'm a flatulent senior citizen.
During that time, there never was a successful intercept of a B-58 by the ADC. In fact, the closest anyone ever got to a B-58 was a Texas ANG F-86 near Eagle Pass, Texas.
Ironic, our site handled 3 regular Air Force F-101B squadrons and one F-106A squadron, plus ANG units occasionally, and just about the slowest plane in the inventory, at that time, was the one to get the closest, but nowhere near close enough.
 
AvObserver
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Fri Mar 05, 2004 8:39 am

Whoa! Then my hats off to you, Broke, you REALLY know what you're talking about! I doubt now the Soviets had anything, except perhaps the MIG-25 Foxbat (exactly when did that become operational, it was designed to chase the SR-71A) that could catch the B-58 during its' short service life. Your statement helps affirm that and you probably know better than anyone else, here. A lot of folks think, despite it's faults, that the B-58 was superior overall to the FB-111A, even considering that airplane's all-weather capability and terrain following radar. It certainly seemed to be ahead of its' time, especially coming on the heels of Convair's majestic but painfully slow B-36 Peacemaker.

P.S. - You're using the term 'flatulent' figuratively, I trust, right?  Big grin And don't feel too bad; I'm not exactly a spring chicken, myself. Thanks for the insight!  Smile
 
lehpron
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Mar 06, 2004 4:00 am

"it was designed to chase the SR-71A"

I thought the Foxbat was made for the XB-70, had it went into production. Is it known if the Soviets knew about the Oxcart program as a whole considering the CIA had to makeup a phantom materials company to buy the titianium from the largest supplier: mother Russia? I'm sure they were ready for it when they knew.
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jwenting
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Mar 06, 2004 5:15 am

The MiG-25 was designed to counter the B-70 indeed.
Later it was attempted to use them agains the SR-71 but without success.

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AvObserver
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Mar 06, 2004 6:03 am

Lehpron and Jwentling; you guys are right and I stand corrected; I should've remembered that. Unlike the B-70 which was publicly unveiled early on, the A-12/SR-71 program was a true 'black' program shrouded in secrecy for years. It's unlikely the Soviets even knew about it until after it was operational.
 
L-188
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Mar 06, 2004 9:01 am

The Soviets had to know about it in 64, that was when then aircraft was announced.
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broke
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sat Mar 06, 2004 9:52 am

A rule of thumb in the interceptor business is that the fighter has to have a 50% speed advantage over the target bomber. The YF-12A was to counter a Mach 2 bomber that the Soviets were developing. The program was cancelled and so was the YF-12A program.
I would imagine that the MiG-25 was built to counter the B-58, but from what I have read about the airplane, its top Mach is 2.7. I don't think the MiG-25 would have a prayer to catching a SR-71.
One interesting feature of the MiG-25 was precompression cooling (PCC). It was tested in the US on F-4's and there is speculation that the Israelis installed it on some RF-4C's to give them a Mach 2.5+ dash capability.
The basic idea of the system is to inject water into the airflow behind the inlet and in front of the engine. This would lower the inlet temperature at the compressor face allowing for higher fuel flows into the combustor without overtemping the turbine.
 
SlamClick
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Fri Mar 26, 2004 10:09 am

The existence of the B-58 is well justified if for one thing alone.

It is Holy Crap! Look at that mother! rock-you-back-on-your-heels sinister good looking in person.

But is that true? No century series interceptor pilot ever got to say "genie away" and launch a theoretical air-to-air nuke into its path? That is an achievement!
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
IMissPiedmont
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Fri Mar 26, 2004 12:39 pm

"The existence of the B-58 is well justified if for one thing alone."

I agree on the looks because it, and the B-52, are what I remember flying low over the farm when I was a small child. Perhaps that's why I spend lots of time walking around each tot this day?

But the B-58 should be considered a success because it scared the crap out of the Soviet leadership. They did not know that after 1964, it was useless.
The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
 
MD-90
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sun Mar 28, 2004 9:22 am

It's amazing that an F-86 was the one to get the closest. Wow.
 
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rg828
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Sun Mar 28, 2004 3:02 pm

Could the B-58 go supersonic with that huge fuel tank under the belly? I read something regarding Convair's contender for a supersonic reconnaissance craft, which would be belly-mounted under the Hustler. The problem was that the B-58 could never go supersonic with that thing hanging underneath.
I once met a guy whose brother got killed flying a B-58. He was assigned to take one to the Paris Air show, and crashed on landing.
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broke
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RE: B-58 Retirement. The Real Reason.

Tue Mar 30, 2004 4:38 am

The B-58 would go to Mach 2 with the belly tank, or tanks. The B-58 at the Air Force Museum is the one that set 3 transcontinental speed records. West to East, East to West, and the round trip elapsed time. It did it with an external tank.
Now, it has one tank nested into another tank. The outer one contained fuel and a nuclear weapon, the inner one only carried fuel. Early in its career there was a problem with the tank (or tanks) leaving the airplane and there a relatively short period of time when they flew without an external tank.

On the day the records were set; there were 2 B-58's involved in a competition with each other. The first airplane had made its West to East run, refueled over the Atlantic and began the return run when the second airplane approached the east coast. The airplanes were on exactly reciprocal courses, each doing Mach 2. The second airplane had a mechanical and landed, it had made the West to East run 6 minutes slower than the first airplane.
Watching this on a radar scope with the targets closing on each other at about Mach 4, put chills up and down my spine, even though we knew they were at different altitudes.
The airplane also had pylons between the fuselage and the inboard engines where small nukes could be carried.

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