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McDonnell XF-85 Goblin (Parasite Fighter)

Prototype Jet-Powered Fighter / Bomber Escort

The XF-85 Goblin was to be a bomber-released parasite fighter but was soon found to be much too impractical.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 1/29/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1948
Status: Cancelled
Manufacturer(s): McDonnell - USA
Production: 2
Capabilities: Fighter; X-Plane;
Crew: 1
Length: 14.76 ft (4.5 m)
Width: 21.00 ft (6.4 m)
Height: 8.20 ft (2.5 m)
Weight (Empty): 3,748 lb (1,700 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
Power: 1 x Westinghouse XJ34 turbojet delivering 3,000lbs of thrust.
Speed: 665 mph (1,070 kph; 578 kts)
Ceiling: 47,999 feet (14,630 m; 9.09 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 12,500 ft/min (3,810 m/min)
Operators: United States
The XF-85 Goblin was an attempt by the McDonnell bureau to realize the dream of a "parasite fighter" program that was actually feasible for use in a wartime environment. The basic theory revolving the parasite fighter was not a new one for development of such a fighter was already attempted by German scientists during the Second World War. Nevertheless, the XF-85 Goblin was - at least in the eyes of McDonnell engineers - to be the first successful attempt, though in practice the retrieval process proved to be too impractical and the program was therefore limited to just two prototypes and fully scrubbed.

The XF-85 featured a most basic aerodynamically friendly design with very little in the way of external features. The system featured the post-war development of swept back wings (pioneered by the Germans throughout World War Two) and were of 37 degrees sweep. The Goblin was to be air dropped from a bomber, fly to and engage targets as needed, then return to the bomber by meeting up with the bomber's retractable hook and trapeze combination. Should an emergency had arisen for the diminutive Goblin, a steel skid was installed underfuselage (along with runners at the wingtips for additional landing support) for emergency landings. Armament for the XP-85 consisted of a 4 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine gun array. Crew accommodations amounted to a single pilot. Power was derived from a single J34 type turbojet mounted at rear with a noticeable intake front of the fuselage. The first flight of the XF-85 Goblin prototype occurred on August 23rd of 1948.

The XF-85 proved to be a stable platform that required very little extended flight knowledge for any pilot to fly her. The one - and major issue - reported by pilots of the XF-85 was in the aircraft retrieval process which proved to be impractical when put into practice. With only two prototypes constructed and flying, the program was cancelled. One of the two XF-85 Goblin prototypes was shipped to the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio for display. The other resides at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska.


4 x 12.7mm Browning M2 heavy machine guns in nose

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun

Variants / Models

• XF-85 - Prototype Designation; two prototypes manufactured as s/n 46-0523 and 46-0524.
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