|Peter E. Davies|
96 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softcover
The B-58 was one of those aircraft that was cool as heck, but really didn't have exactly what the USAF and SAC in particular wanted. It was fast and set several records. It was somewhat tricky to fly. It also flew like a champ at low level and had the structural strength to be able to handle low level missions. However, it was designed as a fairly high altitude aircraft and was basically a replacement for the B-47.
Thanks to issues technical and political, the plane was expensive to build with costs continually rising so the USAF said 'enough' after about 100 aircraft. It was enough planes to equip two bomb wings, the 305th and the 43rd and that was it. After about 8 years of service, the plane was quickly retired. It continued to operate as a test bed, another task with which it was particularly suited for another decade.
Like similar books in this series on the B-1 and B-2, which were built in small numbers, there is not a whole lot in the book about unit operations. What you do get is a fairly complete history of the development of the aircraft and what it took to get it into unit service. A fairly small section covers the units in which it was operated and then there is more on how it was used for testing purposes. The book reiterates that there was NEVER a B-58 in SEA camouflage, though it was once considered for the mission the F-111A performed in Vietnam, but not used due to a lack of terrain following radar. The low flying abilities would have made it a great low level bomber but its expense simply meant that it would never get the chance.
The author does a fine job with the story of the aircraft and all its issues and accomplishments. Thanks to the photo bank of Terry Panopolis, we have a goodly number of period photos and some nicely done art work in terms of profiles that is part of this series. In all, it is a super history of the type and a book that fans of the plane and period will thoroughly enjoy reading.
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