Soon after World War II, one of the most amazing jet fighters was conceived for the US Air Force: the McDonell XF-85 Goblin, known as the “Flying Egg” because of its very small size ( only 4.5 meters in length ) and rotund appearance. The XF-85 Goblin was designed to be carried inside the bomb bays of giant strategic bombers and deployed in case of enemy attack. The giant Convair B-36 strategic bomber was to play the role of mothership for this little parasite aircraft.
The McDonell XF-85 Goblin was flight tested using a B-29 Superfortress mothership, converted for this role due to the lack of an existing B-36 prototype. The XF-85 Goblin flew for the first time on August 23, 1948. The small fighter showed good flying characteristics, was stable and easy to fly. During the initial two hours test flight it was however obvious that the turbulence around the bomber severely affected the Goblin. The turbulence made it even harder for pilots to dock the Goblin with the trapeze system created for the recovery. Because of its role as a parasite fighter, the XF-85 Goblin was not fitted with landing gear.
In the summer of 1949, the XF-85 Goblin parasite jet fighter program was canceled by the USAF. The reasons for the cancellation were quite sensible. First of all the recovery of the fighter was potentially dangerous both for the Goblin pilot as well as for the mothership bomber. Also, the Goblin was no match for interceptors of the day, slower and lightly armed it was no match for an enemy fighter. Developments in jet engine technology led to breakthroughs in fuel consumption, increasing range of escort jet fighters. The XF-85 Goblin was considered obsolete.
The XF-85 Goblin was a masterpiece of engineering. Powered by a 3000 lbf Westinghouse J34-WE-7 turbojet, the Goblin had foldable swept wings that spanned only 21 feet ( 6.4 meters ). Only two XF-85 Goblins were ever manufactured, and both of them survive to this day. The two prototypes can be found at the National Museum of the United States Air Force and the Strategic Air and Space Museum.
XF-85 Goblin Specifications
Length 14 ft 10 in (4.5 m)
Wingspan 21 ft 1 in (6.4 m)
Height 8 ft 3 in (2.5 m)
Wing area 90 ft² (8.3 m²)
Empty weight 3,740 lb (1,696 kg)
Loaded weight 4,550 lb (2,063 kg)
1× Westinghouse XJ34-WE-22 turbojet, 3,000 lbf (1,361 kg)
Maximum speed 664 mph (1,069 km/h)
Service ceiling 48,000 ft (14,630 m)
Rate of climb 12,500 ft/min (3,810 m/min)
Wing loading 51 lb/ft² (247 kg/m²)
4x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun