Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin being carried with arm
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin with docking hook clearly
The McDonnell XF-85 Goblin was a prototype parasitic-fighter
aircraft developed during the 1940s.
The XF-85 Goblin was designed to fulfill a USAAF request
for an extremely compact single-seat fighter which could
be carried aboard the Convair B-36 long-range bomber.
The idea was that the B-36 could deploy the Goblin when
enemy aircraft approached, meaning it would always have
a fighter escort, no matter how long the mission was.
The XF-85 Goblin was very small, tiny in fact. It measured
just 14 feet 10 inches (4.5 m) in length, and the wingspan
was only slightly larger at 21 ft (6.4 m). Although when
the wings were folded for storage within the B-36's fuselage
the Goblin was only 5 feet wide (1.5 meters)!
Powering the McDonnell XF-85 Goblin was a Westinghouse
J34-WE-7 turbojet which provided 3,000 lbs of thrust.
There was no landing gear as the Goblin was expected to
return to the mothership and be retracted back into the
fuselage for a joint landing. The designers did however
equip the Goblin with emergency skids so if needed it
could be landed independently.
Despite its odd layout and minuscule dimensions, the program's
only pilot, Ed Schoch reported that the XF-85 Goblin was
stable, easy to fly, and spin recovery was relatively
The main area of issue was during attempts to dock with
the B-29 mothership - no B-36 was available for prototype
testing so the older B-29 was used instead. The small
size of the Gobin meant that it suffered terribly from
turbulence when approaching the larger aircraft. On the
aircraft's first flight, when Schoch was attempting to
re-connect with the B29, sudden turbulence caused him
to crash into the docking mechanism, shattering his canopy,
ripping away his oxygen mask, and forcing him to land
the XF-85 Goblin using the emergency skids on the desert
below. Unfortunatley the damage was severe enough the
first prototype never flew again.
McDonnell considered adding a telescoping extension to
the docking trapeze so the docking would be done at a
slightly greater distance, but the XF-85 program was canceled
in mid-1949 before it could be tested.
The McDonnell XF-85 Goblin's cancellation was due to a
variety of reasons. Firstly it proved to be much more
difficult to dock than had been initially expected. Secondly,
the increasing range of jet fighters and the introduction
of in-flight refueling meant parasitic fighters were becoming
an obsolete idea. Thirdly, tighter defense budgets meant
unusual ideas - like the Goblin - were the first to be
cut. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the XF-85 Goblin
was no match for the next-generation of jet fighters it
would be up against.
Happily both prototype XF-85 Goblin's still exist. One
is on display at the National Museum of the United States
Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton,
Ohio. The other is housed at the Strategic Air and Space
Museum in Ashland, Nebraska.