Fort Worth, TX Supersonic Bomber Crashes, Sep 1959
SUPERSONIC BOMBER CRASHES; TWO KILLED.
Fort Worth, Tex. (UPI) -- Air Force authorities today began an investigation that may show whay a B-58 Hustler supersonic bomber crashed and burned on takeoff Wednesday night, killing two Carswell Air Force Base crewmen.
The third crewman, the pilot, Maj. KENNETH LEWIS of Denver, Colo., pulled himself from the mangled, flaming wreckage. He was hospitalized at the base for treatment of second and third degree burns on his hands and a leg.
The Air Force identified the dead crewmen as Maj. WILLIS A. EDGCOMB, 39, of Gary, Ind., and Capt. LEE N. BARNETT, 32, of Knox, Pa.
Air Force spokesmen said the giant, delta-wing bomber was making a routine takeoff when one of its pod-like jet engines spewed flame around its housing.
LEWIS attempted to stop the racing aircraft, "but something went wrong," a spokesman said.
The surging, needle-nosed bomber roared into arresting chains near the end of the runway. The chains were put there to stop aircraft in trouble before they run onto a highway near the end of the runway.
But the B-58 was going too fast and the chains ripped off its spider-like landing gear, sending the craft sprawling on its belly. The fuel-heavy bomber burst into flames.
Fuel for the craft is carried by a revolutionary new method developed for today's speedy airplanes. Instead of in regular tanks, fuel is stored in the wings of the plane, protected by the ship's "honey-comb" skin structure. The doomed craft exploded and the Air Force said two crewmen were not able to get out of the cockpit. Both men were seated in tandem behind Maj. LEWIS.
Base firefighters spewed foam on the flames that shot 100 feet into the air and illuminated a large area.
Although the Convair-manufactured B-58 is the nation's fastest bomber and is designed to carry atomic and hydrogen bombs in a pod nestled under the fuselage. No nuclear weapons were aboard the craft that crashed Wednesday night.
The Convair plant is housed in a sprawling mile-long building across from the principal runway from the Strategic Air Command's Carswell Air Force Base.
Carswell's basic mission involves long-range flights with Boeing built B-52 bombers. But the base also includes a B-58 Test Force to adapt the new plane to routine air force work. The base used the now-retired B-36 Peacemaker until earlier this year.
Wednesday's B-58 crash was the third disaster to hit the new Hustler. One crashed Dec. 15 and killed one crewman. Another exploded on the flightline of Convair May 15 and killed two men and injured several more.
Santa Fe New Mexican 1959-09-17