Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF
From 1948 to 1956, the US Air Force pursued several methods of carrying launching, and retrieving small airplanes from giant bombers.
In 1948 and 1949, a pair of McDonnell XF-85 Goblins were test flown from a Boeing EB-29B Superfortress at Edwards Air Force Base.
In 1949 the Wright Air Development Center conducted wing tip coupling experiments with a Douglas C-47A Skytrain and a Culver Q-14B Cadet at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
From 1950 to 1953, the Wright Air Development Center continued wing tip coupling experiments with a Boeing B-29 Superfortress and a pair of Republic F-84D Thunderjets at the Republic Aircraft Company plant at Farmingdale, new York.
From 1952 to 1956, the Project FICON investigated the potential of carrying various models of the Republic F-84 in the bomb bay of a Peacemaker to perform reconnaissance missions into areas that were too heavily defended for the RB-36 to penetrate.
In 1956 Project Tom-Tom explored wing tip coupling with a Republic RF-84F Thunderflash and a Convair RB-36.
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You can buy a 2018 calendar featuring photographs of Air Force projects investigating the coupling of smaller airplanes to larger airplanes' wing tips.
In the early years of the cold war, the US Air Force attempted to increase the range of airplanes by carrying fuel in hinged wing panels that supported themselves attached to their wing tips. The initial tests used a piloted light plane to simulate the hinged panels. Soon the scope of the experiments expanded to include towing a pair of jet fighters on the wing tips of a giant bomber. Photo sources: Bud Anderson, Air Force, General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin:
Douglas C-47A 42-23918 and Culver Q-14B 44-68334
Project Tip-Tow: Boeing EB-29A 44-62093 and Republic EF-84D Thunderjets 48-0641 and 48-0661
Project Long Tom: Beechcraft XL-23C
Project Tom-Tom: Convair JRB-36F 49-2707 and Republic RF-84F Thunderflashes 51-1848 and 51-1849
Put a copy of the Wing Tip Coupling: 2018 calendar in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $14.95.
Books about Project FICON
Go to the home page of the Goleta Air and Space Museum.
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