The B-58 Hustler: 5 Reasons It Was A Big Headache

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Presence of SAMs

The threat of the SA-2 Guideline did not do the B-58 any favors. In order to stave off the missiles, the B-58 had to fly at lower altitudes but the denser air meant it could not reach supersonic speeds.

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Constant Repairs

A warbird getting repaired is a normal thing. But if your plane needs 35 hours’ worth of repair for every hour it flies, then that is not normal at all. Such is the case of the B-58 who couldn’t seem to stay away from danger.

Prone to Accidents

The B-58 had its fair share of accidents. In fact, it was notorious for its accidents that pilots would refuse to fly these planes during flight tests. According to them, the “Hustler” was very hard to fly which contributed to the number of accidents in tests. 22.4% of the B-58s were lost due to accidents.

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Constant Refueling

As if it wasn’t enough that it had problems during flight tests, it also needed to get air refueled an excessive number of times. General Curtis LeMay stated this as one of the reasons why the B-58 was not combat-ready at all.

Huge Costs

It is not cheap to operate the B-58s. Due to its need for constant repairs, the average maintenance cost per hour of the B-58 is a whopping $1,440 compared to the B-52s’ $1,025 and B-47s’ $361. The cost to maintain and its proneness to accidents were reasons why it was later retired in 1970.

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