29 April 1949 – During WWII a need was discovered for a “parasite fighter” – a jet fighter to protect bombers from hostile intercept aircraft. Pilot fatigue from P-41 and P-51 pilots who were protecting Boeing B-17’s, B-24’s, and Boeing B-29’s was a real problem. Aerial refueling hadn’t been perfected and these interceptors couldn’t match the range of the Northrop XB-35 and B-36, in development after the war.

“Several ideas were considered including remotely piloted aircraft. On 3 December 1942, the USAAF sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a diminutive piston-engined fighter. By January 1944, the Air Technical Service Command refined the RfP and, in January 1945, the specifications were further revised in MX-472 to specify a jet-powered aircraft. Although a number of aerospace companies studied the feasibility of such aircraft, McDonnell was the only company to submit a proposal to the original 1942 request and later revised requirements. The company’s Model 27 proposal was completely reworked to meet the new specifications.”(1)

Two little egg-shaped, forked tail XF-85 prototypes were built and underwent testing and evaluation in 1949. Although flight testing showed some promise, docking was difficult and the aircraft’s performance was inferior to the jet fighters it would have to encounter in combat.

On 29 April 1949, “During wind tunnel testing at Moffett Field, California, the first prototype XF-85 was accidentally dropped from a crane at a height of 40 ft (12 m), causing substantial damage to the forward fuselage, air intake, and lower fuselage. The second prototype had to be substituted for the remainder of the wind tunnel tests and all but one of the flights.”

For a number of reasons, the XF-85 was canceled, and the prototypes were thereafter relegated to museum exhibits. The 1947 successor to the USAAF, the United States Air Force (USAF), continued to examine the concept of parasite aircraft under Project MX-106 “Tip Tow”, Project FICON, and Project “Tom-Tom” following the cancellation.

To see video of the “Goblin” click here.

Source (1): Wikipedia


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