Convair Model 58-9 SST

By late 1960, the idea of a commercial supersonic transport had become quite possible. Convair felt itself to be well positioned to capitalize on the SST program by virtue of having America's largest operational supersonic aircraft, the B-58. A three step program to an operational SST was proposed:
1: An existing B-58 was to fly commercial routes, operating from commercial airports. This would provide needed information and experience on operational and logistical difficulties.
2: The weapon/fuel pod of a B-58 would be replaced with a new "people pod." Five seats would be installed within it. This pod would have the same external contour as the existing pod, but would be fitted out with a pressurized volume, door, windows and air conditioning system. It would be used to determine if there were any adverse effects on passengers flying at supersonic speeds.
3: The construction of an actual suspersonic transport based on the B-58.

The Model 58-9 was one such B-58-derived SST designs. A B-58C (an unbuilt variant of the B-58) would be greatly modified by replacing its bomber fuselage with a greatly extended passenger fuselage with seating for 52. Due to the extended length, a horizontal stabilizer would also be added.

The fuselage was very narrow by conventional jetliner standards, and only allowed two-abreast seating, with a narrow aisle between the seats. Four Pratt & Whitney J58 turbojets with 33,000 pounds of non-afterburning thrust each, would power the Model 58-9 to a cruise speed of Mach 2.4, with a range of 2525 nautical miles. Takeoff weight would be 190,000 pounds, requiring 6500 feet of runway and a liftoff airspeed of 199 knots.

The Model 58-9 was acknowledged to not be an optimal SST design, but was considered the most realistic design that could see flight soon. With an expected go-ahead in January, 1961, the first flight test was expected to occur in October, 1963. A total of twelve aircraft would be built, with simulated commercial operations (conducted by MATS) beginning in 1965.

Views of the Convair Model 58-9

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