Created by Convair in the early 1960s to promote the B-58 Hustler supersonic bomber, this film shows its role with Strategic Air Command as one part of America's nuclear defense. It also does its best to defend the aircraft's loud "sonic booms" -- created as it broke the sound barrier -- against public criticism.
The film also shows the B-52 (seen after the six minute mark) and the Atlas missile. The narrator comments that manned aircraft carrying atomic weapons can be recalled after launch, while an ICBM cannot -- a crucial difference that helped inform SAC's mission.
The supersonic, delta-wing B-58 is shown in more detail at about the eight minute mark in the film. The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first operational supersonic jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. The aircraft was designed by Convair engineer Robert H. Widmer and developed for the United States Air Force for service in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the 1960s. It used a delta wing, which was also employed by Convair fighters such as the F-102, with four General Electric J79 engines in pods under the wing. It carried a nuclear weapon and fuel in a large pod under the fuselage rather than in an internal bomb bay.
Replacing the Boeing B-47 Stratojet medium bomber, it was originally intended to fly at high altitudes and supersonic speeds to avoid Soviet fighters. The B-58 received a great deal of notoriety due to its sonic boom, which was often heard by the public as it passed overhead in supersonic flight.
The introduction of highly accurate Soviet surface-to-air missiles forced the B-58 into a low-level penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value, and it was never employed to deliver conventional bombs. This led to a brief operational career between 1960 and 1970, when the B-58 was succeeded by the smaller, swing-wing FB-111A.
On March 5, 1962 two Convair B-58 Hustler supersonic bombers from the 65th Bombardment Squadron, 43rd Bombardment Wing, Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, took off at sunrise and headed west to Los Angeles, California. Off the Pacific coast they refueled from a Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, then headed east at maximum speed to New York. The total elapsed time, Los Angeles–New York–Los Angeles, was 4 hours, 41 minutes, 14.98 seconds (4:41:14.98) for an average speed of 1,044.97 miles per hour (1,681.71 kilometers per hour) The crew and the airplane "Tall Man Five Five" established three National Aeronautic Association speed records for Speed Over A Recognized Course. At Los Angeles the crew, Captain Robert G. Sowers, Pilot, Captain Robert MacDonald, Navigator, and Captain John T. Walton, were congratulated by General Thomas S. Power, Chief of Staff, Strategic Air Command, and each airman was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. For the eastbound transcontinental flight, the crew won the Bendix Trophy, and for “the most meritorious flight of the year,” they were also awarded the MacKay Trophy.