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The Feisty McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

Posted by Cirrus Aviation on Aug 3, 2015 12:11:00 PM

 McDonnell_XF-85_Goblin_trapeseThe McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, designed to be a feisty defender of bombing missions, is another U.S.-conceived plane that was never deployed.

We at Cirrus Aviation love the great successes and learning moments of aviation, and the Goblin story is a bit of both:

  • In the 1940s, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation built the Goblin prototype. It was small, egg-shaped, with collapsible wings but no landing gear, and equipped with four machine guns.
  • Conceived as a “parasite” jet fighter, the Goblin would protect bomber planes by engaging enemy aircraft after being launched from the bay of a host B-36.
  • The parasite concept was devised because B-36 bombers flew beyond the range of conventional escort fighter planes.
  • The Goblin was to be lowered on a trapeze from the bay and released into battle. After the fight, the plane would then reattach to the trapeze and be lifted back into the bay.

Reality proved to be far different. Stable and capable of quickly recovering from spins, the Goblin performed well in the air.

However, once launched, the Goblin prototype had difficulty reattaching to the trapeze that would return the jet to the bomber bay. On a test flight above California’s Edwards AFB, the plane was battered by turbulence caused by the larger bomber.

After three attempts, the Goblin pilot was forced to make a belly landing due to the lack of landing gear. In seven test flights, the trapeze docking worked just three times.

When aerial refueling systems developed in the late 1940s greatly increased the range of escort fighters, the Goblin project was scrapped.

The prototypes still exist, though. One is displayed at a U.S. Air Force museum at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio. The other can be seen at an air and space museum in Ashland, Nebraska.

Check back for more unusual aircraft, or visit our “A UFO Lands on a Beach? Blame the Government!” post to learn about another interesting military plane, the “Flying Flapjack”. Call (702)-472-9714 to book your private jet charter.

Topics: Insider, Jet Charter Educational