Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF:
Monstro and the McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

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The great size of the B-36 Peacemaker made it possible for the behemoth to carry, launch, and retrieve other airplanes. The McDonnell XF-85 Goblin program was intended to provide the B-36 Peacemaker with a fighter for self defence which could be carried entirely within the bomb bay of the bomber. The constraints were that the fighter had to be only sixteen feet long, and only five feet wide when stowed. The wings of the Goblin were designed to fold up alongside each side of the fuselage to fit into the Peacemaker. Due to the unavailability of a B-36 for the flight tests, they were conducted using an EB-29B, serial 44-84111, which was named Monstro, after the whale that swallowed Pinochio.

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Republic assembled a mockup of the XF-85 Goblin and its trapeze. (McDonnell Corporation negative D4E 5281)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Goblin 46-0524 was tested in the 40-foot by 80-foot wind tunnel at the Ames Research Center. The Goblin's ventral speed brake is extended below the rear fuselage. (NASA Dryden Fllight Research Center technical library)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Goblin 46-0524 at the McDonnell plant in St. Louis before delivery to Edwards AFB. It was the first to fly on August 23, 1948. It made six of the seven free flights flown by the Goblins. (McDonnell Corporation negative D4E 10112)

The pilot for all XF-85 Goblin flights was Ed Schoch. (McDonnell Douglas).

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin XF-85 46-0524 with its hook extended on the Edwards Air Force Base flight line.(Air Force Flight Test Center History Office).

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin The XF-85 is only five feet wide with its wings folded. (still frame from US Air Force film 17593 XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin A special pit was dug into the tarmac at South Base for loading the XF-85 into the EB-29B. XF-85 46-0524 is seen in the loading pit on August 2, 1948. The complexity of the folding trapeze is evident. Note the "horse collar" at the end of the trapeze which served to secure the nose of the Goblin after it had engaged the cross bar. (AFFTC/HO)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Preparing the Gobiln to be loaded into Monstro. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Close up of the XF-85 hook and the trapeze receiving bar. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Monstro takes off with the Goblin. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin The trapeze is extended but the horse collar is still grasping the nose of the Goblin as a Boeing B-29 Sup0erfortress flies chase. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Monstro and the Goblin in flight on August 23, 1948. (McDonnell Corporation negative D4E 10095)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin The horse collar is raised beore launching the XF-85. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Because of the turbulence encountered as the XF-85 appproached the trapeze, only three of the seven free flights ended in a successful hookup. The other four flights ended in skid landings on Rogers dry lakebed at Edwards AFB. During the first flight on August 23, 1948, Ed Schoch missed the trapeze with the hook and hit it with the cockpit canopy of the Goblin. The trapeze broke the canopy and knocked off his helmet. Schoch was forced to land on the dry lakebed. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin XF-85 46-0524 sits on Rogers Dry Lake after the first flight. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin XF-85 on the extended trapeze. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Schoch approaches the trapeze on one of three successful contacts. (still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin XF-85 46-0523 on the South Base flightline at Edwards AFB. This Goblin was equipped with vertical surfaces at the wingtips to augment the six vertical surfaces clustered around the tail. (McDonnell Corporation negative D4E 13188).

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin XF-85 46-0523 posed in front of Monstro on the South Base flightline. The loading pit can be seen behind them. (McDonnell Corporation negative D4E 13137).

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin XF-85 46-0523 was the second Goblin to fly. It made its only captive flight on March 19, 1949 and its only free flight on April 8, 1949. (AFFTC/HO).

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Ground clearance was limited while carrying the XF-85. (McDonnell Corporation negative D4E 13006)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Monstro's outer wing panels and horizontal stabilizers had yellow and black stripes. Its rear fuselage and vertical stabilizer were painted yellow. The control surfaces and leading edges were unpainted.(still frame from XF-85 Initial Flight)

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Goblin 46-0523 seen on display next to the B-36J at the Air Force Museum on August 17, 1998. (Brian Lockett).

McDonnnell XF-85 Goblin Detail of the retractable hook. The tip of the hook was extended late in the flight program of the Goblin. On one occasion, the tip of the hook was snapped off in an attempt to attach to the EB-29B. Photographed at the Air Force Museum on August 17, 1998. (Brian Lockett).

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

Wingspan: 21 feet 1-1/2 inches, folded: 5 feet

Length: 16 feet 3 inches

Wing Area: 90 square feet

Maximum Unhook Weight: 4550 pounds

Proposed Armament: 4x 50 caliber machine guns

Powerplant: 3,000 pound J34-WE-22 turbojet

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Wingspan: 141 feet

Length: 99 feet

Wing Area: 1740 square feet

Maximum Take-Off Weight: 140,000 pounds

Maximum Bomb Payload 20,000

Powerplant: 4x 2,200 hp Wright R-3350 two bank radial engines


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Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

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General Electric Air Research Demonstration, June 22, 1946

General Electric Air Research Demonstration, June 22, 1946

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling

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General Electric Air Research Demonstration, June 22, 1946
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Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON

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Project FICON Handbooks

Project FICON Handbooks

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Wing Tip Coupling

2014 calendar

You can buy a 2014 calendar featuring photographs of Air Force projects investigating the coupling of smaller airplanes to larger airplanes' wing tips.

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Wing Ttip Coupling

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Wing Ttip Coupling

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
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Project Tom-Tom: Convair JRB-36F 49-2707 and Republic RF-84F Thunderflashes 51-1848 and 51-1849

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You can buy a 2014 calendar featuring historic Air Force and Convair photographs of Project FICON Convair GRB-36 carrier aircraft and Republic F-84 parasites.

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Project FICON - Fighter Conveyer

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Project FICON - Fighter Conveyer

A dozen Air Force and Convair photographs of Project FICON Convair GRB-36 carrier aircraft and Republic F-84 parasites from 1952 to 1956:

Convair GRB-36F 49-2707 and Republic F-84E Thunderjet 49-2115 at Forth Worth, Texas and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
Convair GRB-36F 49-2707 and Republic YRF-84F Thunderstreak 49-2430 at Fort Worth, Texas and Dayton, Ohio
Convair GRB-36D 49-2962 and Republic RBF-84F Thunderflash 52-7266 over Washington State
Convair GRB-36D 49-2694 and Republic RF-84K Thunderflash 52-7258 at Edwards Air Force Base, California

These Air Force and Convair photographs were acquired from the National Museum of the USAF, National Archive, Major Clarence "Bud" Anderson (ret), and Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems.

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