The XF-85 Goblin on a test flight over Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards Air Force Base), Calif. On one test flight, the canopy shattered when it hit the trapeze, and the pilot made an emergency landing. On other flights, turbulence prevented the pilot from hooking up to the EB-29B, and he had to land on the lake bed. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Note: This aircraft is located in the Presidential Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The gallery will close until further notice beginning May 1, 2013, as part of budget reduction requirements due to sequestration.
The McDonnell Aircraft Corp. developed the XF-85 Goblin "parasite" fighter to protect B-36 bombers flying beyond the range of conventional escort fighters. Planners envisioned a "parent" B-36 carrying the XF-85 in the bomb bay, and if enemy fighters attacked, the Goblin would have been 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, hook onto the trapeze, fold its wings and be lifted back into the bomb bay. The Goblin had no landing gear, but it had a steel skid under the fuselage and small runners on the wingtips for emergency landings.
Using parasite fighters was not a new concept. In the early 1920s the U.S. Army Air Service had experimented with attaching airplanes to airships, and in the 1930s the U.S. Navy had successfully used parasite fighters on the dirigibles USS Akron and Macon.
Two test aircraft were ordered in October 1945, and flight testing took place in 1948. The aircraft were launched and retrieved several times from an EB-29B, but one never flew from a B-36. This unusual program ended in late 1949 when aerial refueling of conventional fighter aircraft showed greater promise.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Crew: One Armament: Four .50-cal. machine guns Engine: One Westinghouse XJ-34 turbojet of 3,000 lbs. thrust Maximum speed: 650 mph Weight: 4,550 lbs. Maximum endurance: 1 hr. 20 min.