XF-85 Goblin - "The Smallest Fighter"

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From the time the bomber was used in warfare, there was a need to protect the aircraft from enemy fighters. Fighters generally lack the long range of a strategic bomber which meant bombers had no fighter protection when their escorts had to turn back. After WWII, one idea was for the bombers to carry their own escorts. From this concept the XF-85 Goblin was born.

The XF-85 Goblin was a prototype jet fighter designed to be carried within the bomb bay of a B-36 Peacemaker bomber. In operation, the diminutive fighter would be released when enemy fighters were encountered. After protecting the formation, the Goblin would rendezvous with the bomber for retrieval. 

In testing the XF-85 flew quite well. It had an estimated top speed of 648 MPH, it was maneuverable, stable, easy to fly and recoverable from spins. problems arose when trying to retrieve the fighter. It was meant to hook up to a trapeze extended beneath the bomber. Turbulence beneath the bomber created difficulties. At one point the fighter collided with the trapeze shattering the canopy and requiring an emergency landing. There were seven flight tests in all with only three of them resulting in successful hook-ups. 

Despite its good flight qualities, the Goblin was still considered deficient when compared with contemporary jet fighters of the day. In-flight refueling practices were also being perfected which solved the problem of short-range fighter aircraft. The program was cancelled. Both of the XF-85 Goblins survive in museums. The aircraft is the smallest jet powered fighter ever produced.