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McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin with pilot Ed Schoch

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin on the ground

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin cockpit
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin cockpit

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin inside the B29's fuselage

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin just after being deployed

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin during docking

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin being carried with arm lowered

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
Mcdonnell XF-85 Goblin with docking hook clearly visible

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 easy.

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.

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