Monogram 1/48 B-58 Hustler

KIT #: 5704
PRICE: $35.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


The origins of the B-58 can be traced back in 1949, when the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) issued the Generalized Bomber Study (GEBO II), calling for the development of a long range supersonic bomber.

Convair’s initial proposal, called “FZP-110”, was a slender delta configuration, utilizing three J53 engines. The design converged to "MX-1964”, featuring four underwing hanged J-79 turbojets and it was this design that enabled Convair earning by the end of 1952 the contract to build the “GEBO". The plane was designated B-58, with the name “Hustler” reportedly originating from Convair’s high rank engineer E. Stanton Brown’s response upon being informed on the aircraft’s advanced characteristics and performance.

With the program taking place in high secrecy, the first prototype took to the air on 11 November 1956 and by the end of December it broke the sound barrier. Development of the cutting-edge machine was long and troublesome, involving no less than 30 trial prototypes built, with the aircraft finally becoming operational by the end of summer 1960.

The Hustler was operated by a crew of three: pilot, radar navigator/bombardier and defense systems operator, all seated in separated tandem cockpits, with both rear positions being cramped and notoriously claustrophobic. In later versions, each crew member featured a distinctive High Altitude/Mach2 ejection capsule.

The aerodynamically slender machine incorporated a large but thin delta wing with a 60° sweep angle, easily allowing it to fly within the Mach cone. Aluminum honeycomb panels were extensively used, achieving a notably lightweight structure, while the engine nacelles were equipped with variable air intakes to maximize efficiency at all speeds. Another interesting feature was that, apart from the crew compartment, the electronics bay and the wheel wells were pressurized and air conditioned, to counter the high speed generated heat.

The electronics, including cockpit aids, were vastly sophisticated for the era. In particular, the Sperry AN/ASQ-42 bombing/navigation platform, which combined an astro-inertial navigation system, a doppler, a search radar and a radar altimeter, was way ahead of its time, estimated to be 10 times more accurate than any previous system.

The plane’s ordnance was equally distinctive. Initially, a single nuclear weapon would be carried in a streamlined “MB-1C” pod under the fuselage, which contained extra fuel. At some time the Two Component Pod (TCP) was introduced, having the same profile and using the same attachment points as the MB-1C, but, internally, placing the nuclear weapon in an upper and the fuel in a lower section, with the latter capable of being independently jettisoned, allowing, among others, "cleaning-up" the aircraft for fuel efficiency or in case of emergency, while still retaining the weapon. Both pods were used till the plane’s retirement, with the TCP being the preferable one, as it surpassed the MB-1C in all aspects but nuclear warhead size. During the early 60s, a provision to carry four Mk. 43 thermonuclear bombs underneath the wing roots in tandem pairs was also implemented. Defensive armament consisted of a highly automated, radar linked, rear firing T-171E-3 rotary cannon with 1,200 rounds of ammunition in a radar-aimed tail barbette

Although theoretically capable for conventional strikes, the type was never assigned to. Other potential uses included the use of specialized pods to carry out photo reconnaissance or electronic countermeasures and also use as a platform to carry early cruise, ballistic and anti-satellite missiles. All above projects were worked to a degree but none materialized. Due to its size and performance, the plane was frequently used as a test platform for several “special trials” (like pods development).

Upon gaining operational status, the Hustler quickly started to show its potential, excelling in both high-level and low-level radar bombing exercises. However, competition from the B-47 and, especially, the B-52 was strong, not in absolute terms of flight performance, but as a complete “package”, which included, among others, weapons sizes and operating costs. The plane was very expensive to acquire and maintain (a classic example was the special maintenance for the nose landing gear, which retracted in a complex fashion to avoid the center payload which stood at close proximity).

The plane’s high accident rate (with, however, more than half of the losses having occurred during flight tests) did not help either, with the SAC’s senior leadership being skeptical of the bomber’s viability. General Curtis Le May himself was reportedly never being fully satisfied with the plane, considering it “too small, far too expensive to maintain in combat readiness and requiring an excessive number of aerial refuelings to complete a mission”.

In any case, with its teething issues systematically addressed, the plane started to somehow solidify with the SAC with time. However, its dodgy road seemed to be never ending, as the increasing threat posed by the extensively deployed high-altitude Soviet surface-to-air missiles, especially the SA-2 Guideline, necessitated the switch to low altitude flying, where the bird could not fly supersonic, thus putting in question the necessity of its aggravated operating and maintenance costs required for its supersonic profile mission it would no longer be assigned at. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara regarded the B-58 a non-viable weapon system, mainly due to extreme operating costs, ordering in late 1965 its retirement by 1970, something that, despite some reprieving efforts, took place by January of that year.

Despite the high workload and the challenging flight characteristics, the hot-performing plane was loved by its crews: once learning how to tackle the idiosyncratic machine, the crews became enthusiastic with it. Interestingly for a delta, its high-speed performance at low altitude was excellent. The plane set 19 speed records, including cross-US, and the longest supersonic flight in history. Due to their experience gained at long supersonic flights, a number of B-58 pilots were selected to fly the SR-71. In total, 116 B-58s were produced.

The B-58 was undoubtedly an engineering marvel, an extremely aggressive, visually striking design of the times. Tailored to very strict and aggressive requirements, it was expensive to build and, particularly, to operate. Once its design mission profile was rendered obsolete and with the practical options to viably undertake other missions being thin, the aesthetically pleasing Delta Lady's days were soon to be over.


Monogram came in 1985 with its quarter scale B-58, which was reboxed another five times ever since, the last one being in 2010 by Revell. A nice yet challenging kit to build due to its size and less than perfect fit. The specific copy is the 1999 edition, bought in 2002 from one of my hometown’s now closed hobby shops at a good price and for a look at its contents you might look no further than our Editor’s thorough preview, found at the ever growing MM archives.


I started by attaching the tiny side windows from the top fuselage innards, then joined that fuselage part with the impressive one-piece upper wing half. The very nice 10-piece front cockpit was then assembled. Since its floor doubles as a nose well top, the rear well wall was attached to it. Once completed it was glued to the lower fuselage half, which, in turn, was attached to the upper fuselage/wing subassembly. While not mentioned in the instructions, just to be sure (and trusting Monogram’s nose gear rigidity) I trapped around 30 grams of fishing weights in the nose.

Basic cockpit color was Hu140 Gull Gray with black instrument panel and console faces. All raised instrumentation was highlighted by silver dry brushing, with a few “knobs” done by “pinning” red, yellow and white paint. The very nice seat (which is in fact an escape capsule) featured the same cockpit basic color, red cushions and gray seat belts. As a note, no interior is provided for the navigator and the DSO, with the tiny windows reassuring that the internal emptiness will be totally unnoticed.

The massive lower wing half had its main well roofs attached  to its innards and attached the completed subassembly to the upper wing half. The tail  was also assembled and attached to the rear.

The four engines were next assembled and attached in position. Their nozzles were left out, to be attached at later stages. The two ejector racks for the four externally carried Mk.43 thermonuclear bombs were then attached (if you decide not to use them, the corresponding wing cutouts have to be filled). The four Mk.43s themselves were also assembled, together with the central Two Component Pod - TCP (you also have the option to assemble and attach the smaller central bomb alone).

This concluded basic airframe and weapons assembly. Fit was in many areas challenging, something more or less expected from an older tooling of a complex shaped big jet. Almost every joint needed attention, with the size of parts and the Natural Metal Finish requirement imposing an extra challenge. Being prepared, I went on and gave the model multiple rounds of filling and sanding until I felt that the result would be sort of homogenous.

Since the bird’s complex landing gear would also be NMF, I decided to attach all its parts (sans the main accumulators, which would be black), together with the doors to the model and paint everything together. This would mean that all innards would also be NMF, in contrast with instructions that stated gray. However, by looking at net pics of unrestored birds, I figured that bay and door innards featured a rather metallic gray color. This would be sufficient for my lazy attitude, as I would easily paint everything NMF and apply a matt varnish at the “metallic gray” areas. It was by that time that I masked the transparencies and happily took the bird to the paint shop!


I first painted black the radome, front anti glare and a few dielectric areas at the wing tips, the rots and fin. After masking them off, I gave the complete bird, including the attached landing gear legs and doors, the engine faces and also the TCP pod and the four Mk.43s a coat of my trusty Hu11 Silver. Upon drying I proceeded to decaling.

I used the kit decals to represent the #92458 machine, which won the Bendix Trophy on March 5, 1962, flying from Los Angeles to New York City in 2 hours and 56.8 seconds with an average speed of 1214.17 miles per hour. Apart from some yellowing of their carrier film and some milky residue that was easily wiped off, the decals behaved nicely, easily detaching and nicely adhering to the silver coated area. A coat of Future sealed them.


All 10 wheels were assembled and attached in position. With some tweaking, it became possible for all of them to touch the ground. They were filed to look more "natural" (though, really, not “weighted” as they were inflated to very high pressures). They had silver rims and black tires. The main landing gear accumulators were painted dark blue and attached within the main bays.

The TCP pod was attached in position, as were the Mk.43 bombs. To add some flavor, I decided to paint the latter's domes dark blue and apply a red striped decal at the blue/silver demarcation lines (of course, this painting has good chances to be “wrong”, as pure aluminum, pure white or even “green leaf” has been stated/observed and domes were also seen in black or dark blue - those weapons were surrounded by relative secrecy and their painting could, at times, be deceptive). Finally, the four exhaust nozzles had their flame holders affixed and, after painted Testors Burned Metal, were attached in position.

Those birds were kept in pristine condition, with photographic evidence justifying it, so the only weathering applied was a black wash at the landing gear area to accentuate its details. Since I am too lazy to go with various NMF shades, I run dark colored pastels over various aerodynamic surfaces and fuselage panel lines to breathe some life to the monotonous NMF, with a gloss coat giving the bird its final hue.

The three piece canopy was assembled and, after having its well defined framing hand painted, was attached in position, with fit being good. The big pitot had its body painted silver and its tip Testors Burned Metal and attached in position.  The rear cannon was also painted Testors Burned Metal and attached. Tiny blobs of red and green paint represented the wingtip lights and top beacon, before calling the Hustler done!


No one but Monogram could have dared to come up with a quarter scale Hustler from as early as 1985 (and, as of 2024, we have to see if anyone will come up with one in the future). Judged in absolute terms, this is definitely a decent kit of the iconic Hustler: overall shape looks spot-on, molding is good, panel lines, though raised, are correctly depicted, overall detail is great with the key areas of pilot cockpit and landing gear nicely represented, decals were tad yellowed but otherwise behaved well, transparencies were nice and clear and instructions were comprehensive.

On the minus side, fit needs its attention at areas (but, remember, this is a 1985  big jet model mold with many complex shaped areas). Also, there’s absolutely no detail for the rear crew compartments, so, if you want to open them up, there’s some serious work in front of you. Some of us would also wish for more detail in the engine exhausts and, especially, the intakes. Maybe it all has to do with the Monogram style, i.e. provide a decent, not over engineered kit with great detail at key areas and at an affordable price. Should you wish to go aftermarket you will be definitely pleased, as there is quite some stuff available to boost the kit looks. Definitely not for a beginner, this kit can be turned into a masterpiece as can be seen in Lee Colosna’s 

Till someone else comes up with a newer tooling (you never know - we did see a new tool quarter scale SR-71 in 2021, didn’t we?), the Monogram will be your only option, promising to deliver a beautiful representation of the aesthetically pleasing Hustler, provided you are not a beginner and willing to walk the extra mile of tackling the fit challenges the kit poses.

Happy Modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

22 April 2024

Copyright All rights reserved. No reproduction in part or in whole without express permission.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page

Back to the Previews Index Page