In 1962, Major Fitzhugh "Fitz" Fulton Jr flew a B-58 with a 5,000 kilogram payload to an altitude of 85,360 feet, breaking the record held by a Soviet pilot. Fitz won the Harmon International Aviation Trophy for "Outstanding Individual Achievement" that year; this record remains unchallenged as of May 1995. (Major Fulton flew the B-58 to more than 16 miles up into the atmosphere.)
A pilot once said of the Convair B-58, "She looked like she was breaking the sound barrier just sitting on the tarmac." At Mach 2+, the B-58 wasn't just the fastest bomber of her day, she was one of the fastest military planes period. A first cousin of the hot "century series" of fighters, the delta winged Hustler medium bomber combined outstanding performance with a striking, javelin-like profile that spawned a mystique that survives to this day. In the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, in just two years the B-58 captured 14 speed and performance records, many previously held by Soviet aircraft. She was not only capable of extended 700 mph on-the-deck missions at 500 feet (then unheard of for a bomber and without the advantages of today's ground hugging radar or fly-by-wire) she also set altitude and climb records. The B-58 was capable of doing whatever was necessary to navigate through enemy air space. As Jimmy Stewart said, "She was a lot more than a hot rod made for setting records, she was a lethal weapon of war -- and an outstandingly handsome aircraft."
The above statements were copied from an unknown book or magazine a long time ago. They were kept because they described the B-58 quite accurately. Many people don't know that the B-58 carried five nuclear weapons and she would have been a lethal weapon of war. The Russians probably knew that SAC had 40 B-58s sitting on alert - which meant 200 nuclear weapons would be headed their way if they wanted to play "war".
It's worth mentioning that the B-58 got a reputation early on as being a dangerous airplane. There were 116 aircraft built and 26 were destroyed. Many accidents were attributable to crew member errors and didn't need to have happened. There were approximately 11 in that catagory. So, how and where the B-58 got the reputation as being a "dangerous" airplane is unknown. Good pilots, good navigator/bombardiers, good DSOs, good training and good maintenance made the B-58 a damn good weapon system!
Those who were associated with the B-58 loved the Hustler then and they love her now - she was fast, she was beautiful and she was a hoot to fly! Many, including myself, consider their time with the B-58 as the high point of their USAF career!
LtCol BJ Brown, USAF, Retired