Everything You Need To Know About The Crazy XF-85 Goblin Pocket Fighter

The XF-85 Goblin Pocket Fighter… What an Aircraft. Also seen in The 10 Ugliest Airplanes Ever

XF-85 GoblinThe Problem

During the second World War, long-range bombing aircraft were very vulnerable to fighter aircraft. Ofter long-range bombers were escorted by fighter jets such as the P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang. These fighter jets however, were not capable of the same range as newly producted bombers such as the Northrop B-35 or Convair B-36.

Aerial refueling was still considered risky and technologically difficult, and pilot fatigue had also been a problem during long-range fighter escort missions.

The Solution

So what do we do with problems? We find a solution. How about we store a fighter inside these bombers, and deploy them around high risk areas? I present to you, the XF-85 Goblin Pocket Fighter.

So how exactly does it work? The Goblin would be launched with a trapeze. With the trapeze fully extended, the engine would be airstarted and the release from the mother ship was accomplished by the pilot pulling the nose back to disengage from the hook. In recovery, the aircraft would approach the mother ship from underneath and link up with the trapeze using the retractable hook in the aircraft’s nose.

McDonnell XF-85

Although the XF-85 handled well, the test pilots reported that the airflow around the parent aircraft made it difficult to attach the hook to the trapeze. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Problems? Enough. The craziest one is that it couldn’t land on the ground. Which didn’t make it a very attractive aircraft for pilots to fly in.

Edwin Schoch

Edwin Schoch

McDonnell test pilot Edwin Schoch was assigned to the project, riding in the XF-85 while it was stowed aboard the EB-29B, before attempting a “free” flight on 23 August 1948. After Schoch was released from the bomber at a height of 20,000 ft (6,000 m), he completed a 10-minute proving flight at speeds between 180 and 250 mph (290–400 km/h), testing controls and maneuverability.

When he attempted a hook-up, it became obvious the Goblin was extremely sensitive to the bomber’s turbulence, as well as being affected by the air cushion created by the two aircraft operating in close proximity. Constant but gentle adjustments of throttle and trim were necessary to overcome the cushioning effect. After three attempts to hook onto the trapeze, Schoch miscalculated his approach. Schoch slammed into it, shattering his canopy, ripping his helmet off, and knocking him unconscious. Schoch recovered in time to make a shaky landing on the XF-85’s underside skid in the Muroc desert, damaging the plane.

He saved the prototype by making a belly landing on the reinforced skid at the dry lake bed at Muroc.

McDonnell XF-85 hookSucceeded! After boosting the trim power by 50 percent, adjusting the aerodynamics, and other modifications, two further mated test flights were carried out before Schoch was able to make a successful release and hookup on 14 October 1948.

During the fifth free flight on 22 October 1948, Schoch again found it difficult to hook the Goblin to the bomber’s trapeze, aborting four attempts before hitting the trapeze bar and breaking the hook on the XF-85’s nose. Again, a forced landing was successfully carried out at Muroc.

A cancelled project. Two main reasons contributed to the cancellation.
-The XF-85’s deficiencies revealed in flight testing included a lackluster performance in relation to contemporary jet fighters,
-and the high demands on pilot skill experienced during docking revealed a critical shortcoming that was never fully corrected.

The development of practical aerial refueling for conventional fighters used as bomber escort was also a factor in the cancellation. The two Goblins flew seven times, with a total flight time of 2 hours and 19 minutes with only three of the free flights ending in a successful hookup. Schoch was the only pilot who ever flew the aircraft.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • 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 sq ft (8.3 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,740 lb (1,700 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 4,550 lb (2,050 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 5,600 lb (2,500 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Westinghouse XJ34-WE-22 turbojet, 3,000 lbf (13.3 kN)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 650 mph (estimated) (565 knots; 1,069 km/h)
  • Service ceiling: 48,000 ft (14,600 m)
  • Rate of climb: 12,500 ft/min (3,800 m/min)
  • Wing loading: 51 lb/sq ft (247 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.66

Armament

  • 4 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M3 Browning machine guns

 

The XF-85 Goblin Pocket Fighter… What an Aircraft. Also seen in The 10 Ugliest Airplanes Ever

Join Flight School for FREE!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

1 comment on “Everything You Need To Know About The Crazy XF-85 Goblin Pocket Fighter”

  1. Joachim Smith Reply

    Hi,

    It’s difficult to take anything on this page seriously after this jewel in the first paragraph (The Problem):

    “Ofter long-range bombers were escorted by fighter jets such as the P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang. These fighter jets however, were not capable…”

    A “fighter jet” is a fighter powered by a jet engine. The P-51 and the P-47 were both powered by piston engines and propellers – the P-51 by a Packard (RR) Merlin V-12 engine and the P-47 by a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp 18 cylinder radial engine.

    Enough said, I think. You’d better change those “fighter jet” bloopers if you want to be taken seriously.

    Kind regards,

    Joachim Smith

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *