On Sept. 18, 1961 a Convair B-58 Hustler supersonic bomber of the U.S. Air Force SAC (Strategic Air Command) suffered a left main gear failure during take off for a night training mission from Carswell Air Force Base, Texas.
Debris from the landing gear tore a hole in the aft main fuel tank causing 15,000 lbs of fuel being “lit off” by the afterburners as the plane departed the runway
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The damaged landing gear could not be raised (it was hanging at an angle of 45 degrees) and, what is worse, the aircraft was rapidly approaching minimum fuel condition as a consequence of the leak: with the extended landing gear, the aircraft had to refuel from a tanker at 11,000 feet and speed of 300 knots by using all four engines in afterburner mode.
The aircraft repeated the refueling with extended landing gear 8 times during the night before attempting an emergency landing, in daylight conditions, at Edwards Air Force Base (where other aircraft have performed crash landings in the past….)
As the aircraft prepared for landing a chase plane launched to assess the situation was able to confirm that only 3 of 8 wheels were still intact on the left main gear.
Eventually, the crew was able to perform a successful emergency landing after a 14-hour flight that included 8 aerial refuelings!
Two film clips capture a dramatic B-58 blown-tire takeoff and subsequent emergency landing, and a second B-58 emergency landing in a shower of flaming sparks. In the first sequence, watch as the crippled bomber drops its huge centerline store. The aft cockpit crewmen jettison their overhead hatches to prepare for quick egress on landing, and the B-58 appears to jettison either fuel or ballast water. This is probably a 1960 flight intended to evaluate heavyweight takeoff with one engine disabled during the takeoff run. Fitz Fulton was the skillful pilot on that sortie. The second landing probably dates from 1961. The advanced Mach 2 delta-wing Convair B-58 Hustler nuclear bomber underwent stringent testing at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Another look at the dramatic B-58 Hustler emergency landing on 19 September 1961 at Edwards AFB, California. Different views show aerial inspection of the damaged wheels, a go-around, and sparks flying as a wheel bounds away from the runway and emergency vehicles close in on the crippled bomber.