USA: Warplanes of the Cold War: McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

(USAF Photo)

Text pilot Edwin Foresman Schoch with the plane in which his legend was born. Four of the seven flights of the XF-85 ended with emergency landings on the airplane’s special ventral skid.

The McDonnell XF-85 Goblin is an American prototype fighter aircraft conceived during World War II by McDonnell Aircraft. It was intended to deploy from the bomb bay of the Convair B-36 bomber as a parasite fighter. The XF-85's intended role was to defend bombers from hostile interceptor aircraft, a need demonstrated during World War II. McDonnell built two prototypes before the Air Force (USAF) terminated the program.The XF-85 was a response to a USAAF requirement for a fighter to be carried within the Northrop XB-35 and B-36, then under development. This was to address the limited range of existing interceptor aircraft compared to the greater range of new bomber designs. The XF-85 was a diminutive jet aircraft featuring a distinctive potato-shaped fuselage and a forked-tail stabilizer design. The prototypes were built and underwent testing and evaluation in 1948. Flight tests showed promise in the design, but the aircraft's performance was inferior to the jet fighters it would have faced in combat, and there were difficulties in docking. The XF-85 was swiftly canceled, and the prototypes were thereafter relegated to museum exhibits. The 1947 successor to the USAAF, the United States Air Force (USAF), continued to examine the concept of parasite aircraft under three related projects following the cancellation: MX-106 "Tip Tow", FICON, and "Tom-Tom." (Wikipedia)

(USAF Photo)

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin (Serial No. 46-0524).

(USAF Photo)

Top view of the XF-85, with the hook extended over top of the canopy.

(Robert Dilley Photo)

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin (Serial No. 46-0524), 24.  This is one of two built, and had the most flight time.  The other is on display at United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Paterson AFB, Ohio. 46-0524 is with the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. It was originally transferred to the Norton Air Force Base (near San Bernardino, California) in 1950, still in a damaged state after its last emergency landing. When the base museum was closed and its collection dispersed, the second XF-85 prototype languished in an unrestored condition as part of the Tallmantz private collection in California, until being acquired by Offutt AFB. It is now refurbished and displayed on its ground-handling trestle, nestled under the wing of a B-36J bomber (Serial No. 52-2217).

(USAF Photo)

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin (Serial No. 46-0523), C/N 1.  

(NMUSAF Photos)

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin (Serial No. 46-0523), C/N 1.  The McDonnell Aircraft Corp. developed the XF-85 Goblin "parasite" fighter to protect B-36 bombers flying far beyond the range of conventional escort fighters.  The "parent" B-36 would carry the XF-85 within a bomb bay, then if enemy fighters appeared, the Goblin would be lowered on a trapeze and released to combat the attackers.  Once the enemy had been driven away, the Goblin would return to the B-36, reattach to the trapeze, and be lifted back into the bomb bay.  Two test aircraft were ordered in October 1945, and flight testing with a modified B-29 began in 1948.  Test pilots could successfully launch the XF-85, but the turbulent air under the B-29 made recovery difficult and hazardous.  About half of the Goblin flights ended with emergency ground landings after the test pilot could not hook up to the B-29.  No XF-85s were ever launched or carried by a B-36.  The program ended in late 1949 when aerial refueling of conventional fighter aircraft showed greater promise.  The XF-85 was transferred to the NMUSAF in 1950.

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