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The bears who became test pilots during the Cold War
io9 ^ | December 19, 2012 | Ed Grabianowski

Posted on 12/22/2012 9:46:24 AM PST by EveningStar

The B-58 Hustler was the world's first supersonic jet bomber, a delta-winged marvel of Cold War design created in the 1950s solely to deliver nuclear weapons to the U.S.S.R. And the "pilot" used to test the capsule ejection system was a live bear.

(Excerpt) Read more at io9.com ...


TOPICS: History; Science
KEYWORDS: aerospace; aviation; b58; bears; coldwar

1 posted on 12/22/2012 9:46:29 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: 04-Bravo; 1FASTGLOCK45; 1stFreedom; 2ndDivisionVet; 60Gunner; 6AL-4V; A.A. Cunningham; ...
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2 posted on 12/22/2012 9:49:00 AM PST by EveningStar
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3 posted on 12/22/2012 9:50:12 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar
Built right across the lake from me. Back in the day, a B-58 broke my bedroom window twice. Supersonic isn't allowed over settled places, these days.

/johnny

4 posted on 12/22/2012 9:50:54 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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5 posted on 12/22/2012 9:51:07 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar

...and the Soviet “Bear” was our cold war enemy’s mascot. That is pretty funny.


6 posted on 12/22/2012 9:52:10 AM PST by Slyfox (The key to Marxism is medicine - V. Lenin)
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To: EveningStar

I remember when they had those things at Eglin.

Four engines on a plane about the size of a fighter. It really looked fearsome. Not sure why it never became more common or popular.


7 posted on 12/22/2012 9:56:26 AM PST by yarddog (One shot one miss.)
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To: EveningStar
the "pilot" used to test the capsule ejection system was a live bear.

Ditka????

8 posted on 12/22/2012 10:01:08 AM PST by Hot Tabasco (Jab her with a harpoon.....)
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To: yarddog

Pretty remarkable, and beautiful plane, but I think it had some major flaws:

1.) Expensive

2.) High Maintenance (as some beautiful women are)

3.) Swilled fuel like a drunk sailor


9 posted on 12/22/2012 10:05:38 AM PST by rlmorel (1793 French Jacobins and 2012 American Liberals have a lot in common.)
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To: yarddog
Not sure why it never became more common or popular.

It was bleeding edge. Computers were analog, slow and expensive back then. The engines were also bleeding edge, and ate fuel at a stupid rate. It's like driving my 240-Z. Sure, it goes fast, but not for very long on a tank of gas.

Maintenance was a stone cold gritch, too, according some old ramp apes I worked with.

The lessons learned sure taught us a lot, though, and are the reason we have supercruise aircraft now.

Oh, and nuclear weapons were much larger then than they are today.

/johnny

10 posted on 12/22/2012 10:14:10 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: yarddog
The plane was fraught with problems, though – it was difficult to control and expensive to maintain.
11 posted on 12/22/2012 10:16:39 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro can't pass E-verify)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Researchers started out testing the system on the ground, with acceleration sleds. The first subjects were people recruited from the unemployment lines,


That works.............................


12 posted on 12/22/2012 10:26:12 AM PST by PeterPrinciple ( (Lord, save me from some conservatives, they don't understand history any better than liberals.))
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To: yarddog
> Not sure why it never became more common or popular.

As with so many other missed opportunities in aerospace, blame Defense Sec. McNamara. The B-58 was more expensive to buy and keep flying and less versatile than the B-52, so he killed the program.

13 posted on 12/22/2012 10:26:47 AM PST by Flatus I. Maximus (Subvert. Obstruct. Overthrow. Obama.)
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To: yarddog

Was also a medium range bomber, a type future planners were going away from. Only heavy long range bombers were even considered for any or more production. Along the same lines if the F-117 wasn’t also desingnated a fighter, we would have never seen them deployed.


14 posted on 12/22/2012 10:33:47 AM PST by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: rlmorel

As an example of how the plane suffered...

The power supply to the radar was under the ejection seat. To pull the power supply, you had to pull the ejection seat. (EOD qualified technician required). To apply power, the ejection seat had to be reinstalled. MTBF for the powersupply was on the order of 10 hours. The rest of the radar MTBF was also on the order of 10 hours.

There was a large weight that had to be suspended from the nose if the fuel was emptied. If you forgot that, it would rear up on its back legs.


15 posted on 12/22/2012 10:55:50 AM PST by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: donmeaker
And for all those flaws, still one of the sexiest birds to ever grace American skies...


16 posted on 12/22/2012 11:02:13 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: PeterPrinciple

History of the World, Part I, the King of France:

“Pull!”


17 posted on 12/22/2012 11:03:40 AM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: EveningStar

Finally, the answer to that age old question

“Does a bear s**t in the woods?”

Nope, he does it in the escape pod when they eject him at Mach 2.


18 posted on 12/22/2012 11:09:32 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: EveningStar

“But, Yogi, I don’t want to be ejected out of a plane at Mach 2.”

“That’s OK, Boo Boo. I’m sure Mister Ranger has a big net to catch us with.”


19 posted on 12/22/2012 11:12:53 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: EveningStar
They start with little single-engine jobs....and work their way up through the ranks.


20 posted on 12/22/2012 11:14:03 AM PST by Daffynition (Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious. ~ HLM)
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To: blueunicorn6
Wonder if the bear insisted on a full course fighter pilot’s breakfast, a cigarette, a cup of coffee, a shot of oxygen, and a puke.
21 posted on 12/22/2012 11:14:25 AM PST by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: EveningStar
"This Air Force video about the program tries to put a smile on the whole situation, describing how the post-flight bears hung out for a few days munching on food until they were subjected to "the usual complete medical examination." This white paper of the era makes it clear that the usual medical examination involved euthanasia and autopsy."

"Euthenasia and autopsy?"


22 posted on 12/22/2012 11:29:49 AM PST by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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As a 9 year old kid, I had a plastic (sort of a rubbery plastic) B58. It had a large bomb that could be dropped (a button on top of the fuselage) and a canopy that opened.

I made hundreds of bombing runs over the family cat.

Good times....

23 posted on 12/22/2012 11:41:02 AM PST by llevrok (ObamaLand - Where young people go to retire.)
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To: EveningStar
Convair built a total of 116 B-58 “Hustlers” of all types. About two-thirds (77) were written off in accidents. The B-58 was in service from 1960 to 1970. It was replaced by the FB-111 “Aardvark”. The B-58 was capable of Mach 2, but it was not well liked by its crews.
24 posted on 12/22/2012 11:52:37 AM PST by MasterGunner01
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To: Joe 6-pack

It was a beautiful airplane. The flew out of Barksdale AFB back in the day and split the air with their power on takeoff. It was one of the most earth shaking, heart pounding events of my youth to see them go out. Just can’t express how it felt to see and hear them.

A 52 is simply lumbering by comparison. A magnificent airplane in its own right but still a high speed truck.


25 posted on 12/22/2012 12:12:54 PM PST by Sequoyah101
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To: Sequoyah101
"Just can’t express how it felt to see and hear them."
26 posted on 12/22/2012 12:20:28 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Sequoyah101

For some reason the rest of my #26 didn’t post. I explained that my dad was a cold war USAF vet. He described it simply as, “the sound of freedom,” which was a more than adequate expression for me :-)


27 posted on 12/22/2012 12:22:24 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: EveningStar

B-58 = aviation porn.


29 posted on 12/22/2012 12:34:52 PM PST by Sirius Lee (Sarah Palin - "Republicans like Rove... are said to be concerned she will win.")
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To: F15Eagle
Yep, just checked my book on the Hustler. J79-GE-5A/5B rated at 15,600 lbs thrust at sea level.

/johnny

30 posted on 12/22/2012 12:39:31 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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Comment #31 Removed by Moderator

To: Joe 6-pack

The fuselage looks similar to a B1.

32 posted on 12/22/2012 12:46:43 PM PST by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Hope you don’t mind, I have my own “Sound of Freedom” story. My kids were young, during Desert Storm. The images of Israeli families sheltered in sealed rooms, wearing gas masks, permeated the media. U.S.M.C.A.S. El Toro was nearby, and when the FA-18’s thundered by, overhead, my neighbors and I agreed, that was the sound of freedom. Some of us would even salute them, as they passed. POSTSCRIPT: The base closed about 1998, I sure miss those good neighbors. Thanks!


33 posted on 12/22/2012 12:50:41 PM PST by jttpwalsh
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To: F15Eagle
I got hooked reading the book "Aerograph 4 Convair B-58" by Jay Miller when I looked that up a little while ago. I had no idea each engine has 2 FCS units. One for the turbine, and one for the afterburner.

I can get sucked into reading technical documents like that so fast... It's like crack cocaine for the brain.

/johnny

34 posted on 12/22/2012 12:53:26 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: EveningStar
1) Actual bears? And not, you know, Andrew Sullivan fans?

2) How did they get security clearances? Wouldn't their sympathies be with their Russian cousins?

35 posted on 12/22/2012 12:59:47 PM PST by x
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To: EveningStar

I guess, back then, they could have used humans (i.e., blacks) for experiments where the outcome wasn’t assured, but they didn’t, and thankfully so.

As for the bears, I happen to have no love for that animal. They, almost always, have a crappy attitude towards life and towards humans. So if a few go bye-bye, tough - enough humans have been mauled for NO REASON, anyway.

And for those bears that gave their lives to help us in the Cold War, I applaud them. We were looking at wiping out BILLIONS of people, if either side was perceived as weak. These bears helped us convince the Soviets that we meant business, and there are, likely hundreds of millions, if not billions of people alive today that would not be, if either side blinked.


36 posted on 12/22/2012 1:05:18 PM PST by BobL (Agenda 21...Agenda 21...Agenda 21...Agenda 21...Agenda 21... (whatever the hell that is))
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To: Joe 6-pack

My Father worked at Eglin for nearly 35 years. Sometimes when he was working the night shift, he would let me spend the night. I would get to walk around and look over all the planes in the King Hangar.

Before that he worked in the basement of building 100. During that time Eglin was a SAC base. This was during the late 50s or maybe early 60s.

One night while I was there, they had a B-52 scramble. I am not sure how many there was but it was around 6. Each one had 8 engines. You can imagine the roar.


37 posted on 12/22/2012 1:06:25 PM PST by yarddog (One shot one miss.)
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To: EveningStar

The B-58 ejection pod looks like something straight out of Star Wars.

38 posted on 12/22/2012 1:13:31 PM PST by Flick Lives (We're going to be just like the old Soviet Union, but with free cell phones!)
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To: donmeaker

LOL...I never worked on one (I was an A-7 mechanic) but you know how it is with some women...just LOOKING at them, you know they are trouble...:)

But hoo-boy, what a HOT looking plane!


39 posted on 12/22/2012 1:14:39 PM PST by rlmorel (1793 French Jacobins and 2012 American Liberals have a lot in common.)
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To: Flick Lives
With manipulator arms, it could be something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
40 posted on 12/22/2012 3:05:41 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: EveningStar

So they promised the bears free choom and a ride in a fast plane and then they cut them up.......and I thought the Army Recruiters were sneaky.


41 posted on 12/22/2012 4:18:20 PM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Joe 6-pack

It was a product of the discovery of area ruling. Its sexy lines came from that. Its speed came from that. Its maintenance difficulties came from that.

There are those who assert that it never spent a total of 24 hours on cocked alert in its service.

Others disagree, citing that it could have been ready to fly, they just had a few things that had to get done first.


42 posted on 12/22/2012 7:08:20 PM PST by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: Joe 6-pack

My uncle was a 47 pilot in the day. They moved all the time. There were SAC and TAC bases all over the nation. People now simply can’t imagine the numbers. In our region I knew of Carswell, Altus, Reese, Little Rock, McConnell, Tinker, Clinton-Sherman, Perrin, Sheppard, Victoria, Blytheville, Forbes, Schilling, Amarillo, Dyess, Webb, Waco, Goodfellow, Bergstrom, Ellington, the San Antonio complex. Some were training, SAC, TAC, MAC or ALC. Once, we lived close by and visited the base often when I was a child.

We had of course been taught duck and cover in school and knew what the air raid warning sirens sounded like. Of course we never knew when they were simply being tested or if it was for real. Somebody’s in charge in our little town did I’m sure and it may have been in the paper but we didn’t know it. My Dad was a shelter manager as well. We spent some weekends in the shelter on drills. Anyway, we kids knew we were at “Cold War” and were told that it could turn hot just any day.

When visiting the base a time or two the klaxon at the alert bunker went off and the bombers would scramble to MITO and leave in a cloud of smoke. My aunt said that if nothing happened in three hours we were safe. Later in life I learned she would call Mom whenever my uncle left and tell her that if nothing happened in three hours we were safe.

It did sound like freedom but it also sounded like protection and the bomber and fighter pilots were knights protecting the realm.

You might enjoy this: http://www.airforcebase.net/usaf/joeslist.html

Interesting, in 1060 there were no bases in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky or Conneticutt.


43 posted on 12/22/2012 8:48:31 PM PST by Sequoyah101
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To: donmeaker
That's right, area ruling. Like a T-38, the "white rocket", or an F-5.

Photobucket

44 posted on 12/23/2012 12:02:16 PM PST by zipper ("The Second Amendment IS my carry permit!" -- Ted Nugent)
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To: MasterGunner01

Sort of in service; they were already lining them up at Davis Monthan by early ‘68.


45 posted on 12/23/2012 1:30:30 PM PST by norton
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To: EveningStar
Must have been a very juvenile bear. I've seen those ejection capsules and at 5'8/5'9 I'd be cramped all to heck. I came to believe the tales we used to hear about height restrictions on flight crew.
46 posted on 12/23/2012 1:36:00 PM PST by norton
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To: zipper

I walk by an early T-38 every day. A pretty plane. I used to walk by a YF-23, but that got shipped off to a museum.


47 posted on 12/23/2012 1:42:35 PM PST by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: norton

My understanding is that some senator proposed, rather than a new F-15 that the B-58 be pulled out from DM and upgraded. The AF let a contract within a month or so, and had the B-58s scrapped.


48 posted on 12/23/2012 1:45:22 PM PST by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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