August 23, 1948: XF-85 Goblin Aircraft Debuts

  • Published
  • US Army Air Force

The McDonnell XF-85 Goblin made its first free flight, piloted by company test pilot Edwin F. Schoch. The diminutive XF-85 was a parasite fighter with no landing gear, designed to be launched and recovered in flight by a transcontinental bomber. Separation and flight were successful but the Goblin canopy shattered during attempts to hook up to the trapeze on its B‑29 mother ship. Schoch belly-landed the aircraft on the dry lakebed.  First flight test XF-85 Goblin parasite fighter, 45-524,test pilot Edwin F. Schoch detaches from trapeze carried. when he tries to hook up after free flight small fighter,in turbulence from bomber, swings violently forward, smashes canopy against the trapeze

The XF-85 was a response to a US Army Air Forces 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 egg-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 US Army Air Force, the United States Air Force continued to examine the concept of parasite aircraft under Project MX-106 "Tip Tow", Project FICON, and Project "Tom-Tom" following the cancellation.

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