Phil Rowe's B-58A SUPERSONIC STRATEGIC BOMBER
Book review by Dennis D. McDonald
Rowe's book is a good companion volume to George Holt Jr.’s THE B-58 BLUNDER: HOW THE U.S. ABANDONED ITS BEST STRATEGIC BOMBER. Holt's book is an unapologetic focus on the politics and infighting behind the B-58's eventual demise. Rowe provides a meat-and-potatoes view of what it was like to actually fly this aircraft.
A lot of folks new to this airplane ooh and ah about its performance. I certainly remember being enthralled by its futuristic beauty when I was a kid.
Rowe does some of that but also demonstrates that this performance came at a price with range, stability, and crew comfort suffering in the process.
The book is highly episodic with little continuity from one short chapter to the next. The author focuses on specific details -- navigation, low level flight, tires, constant recalculation of the center of gravity, what it was like to be on alert -- and these topics at first seem unconnected.
Still, you can't help but come away from this book with an appreciation of what our military put up with during the Cold War. The B-58 was part of a massive Doomsday Machine that, had it ever been unleashed in a hot war, we would still be picking up the pieces. B-58 operators understood this and most (but not all) survived flying this machine. That was quite an accomplishment.
To see some pictures of the B-58 at the Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio, go here.
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald