15 March 1960 – Convair B-58 Hustler is introduced into operational service with the USAF

On 15th March 1960, the B-58 Hustler supersonic strategic bomber began its operational service with the United States Air Force.

That first operational bomber in the world capable of Mach 2 maximum speed, performed its maiden flight on 11th November 1956. The aircraft achieved combat ready status in August of 1960 and remained in active service until January of 1970.

Detailed history of the Hustler, including its development and operational service can be found here, in one of our earlier articles from Aviation History Friday series, issued on the anniversary of the B-58 first flight.

The first supersonic strategic bomber is also famous for several flight speed and altitude records, including the longest supersonic flight in history of aviation. Operation Greased Lightning, as the record-breaking flight of the Hustler was codenamed, was successfully performed in 1963.

On 16th October 1963, the B-58 covered a distance of 8,028 miles (12,920 km) from Tokyo to London, in 8 hours, 35 minutes and 20.4 seconds, with the average speed of 692.71 mph (1114.81 kph). The record was registered in category ´Speed over a recognized course´ for C-1 class of aircraft and still remains unbeaten.

More information about that record flight, as well as aircraft and crews involved in the Operation Greased Lightning can be found here, in our article issued in February of 2023.

Convair B-58A Hustler 61-1115, January 1968 (unknown author, USAF photo via Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Cover photo: Prototype of the Convair XB-58 Hustler in flight (unknown author, USAF photo via Wikipedia, Public Domain)