Parasite in the sky
Both XF-85 prototypes were completed and ready for flight in the spring of 1948. The first prototype was transported to the Ames laboratories for testing in the NACA wind tunnel. Because of the small dimensions, it completely fitted in the wind tunnel room. Here, it was damaged when it slipped out of its hoist. For the flight program, the second prototype was used for the first flight trials. For these trials a special modified B-29 bomber was used as mother plane: the EB-29 ‘Monstro’ serial no. 44-8411. Test pilot of the XF-85 was Edwin F. Schoch, a former navy pilot who joined McDonnell as test pilot. Ed Schoch would also be the only pilot flying the XF-85. The first flight trials took place in June 1948 when the trapezium with the XF-85 attached was lowered from the EB-29 bomb bay and the wings were unfolded. However, the plane was not yet launched. On the next flights, the engine was also started, but again the plane was not yet launched. The first free flight took place on 23 August 1948. After a 15 minutes familiarization flight Schoch tried to hook the little fighter on the bomber’s trapezium. However, air turbulences around the plane made controlling the XF-85 very difficult. After a few futile hook-on attempts the final hook-on failed when the cockpit canopy was shattered after contact with the trapezium. Ed Schoch took no further risk and belly-landed the XF-85 practically without any damage on Muroc’s AFB dry lakebed. At least the strengthened bottom of the fuselage had proved its use. Although Schoch had lost his flying helmet and oxygen mask at the impact, he was not wounded. After repairs, Schoch made with the XF-85 on 14 and 15 October 1948 in total three flights with successful recovery by the EB-29. At the fifth flight, a temporary streamline fairing under the EB-29 was removed.
Digital art show one of the test flight.
Main text- Nico Braas