Experiments with aircraft that carry other aircrafts have been going on ever since someone realized that a big blimp could carry a small plane, and that this was awesome. While the whole blimp craze didn't really catch on for some reason...
...experiments continued with more conventional aircraft. The Russians started things off with that doomed looking contraption up there in the header image, which had smaller planes hanging off of it like Christmas tree ornaments. Uncle Sam tried to get in on the action with the airship USS Akron. When that failed, the U.S. assessed the situation and decided that the name and the aircraft were not badass and ridiculous enough respectively, and launched The XF-85 Goblin.
The "XF" stands for "This plane looks like a turd."
This oddly shaped plane was dropped out of a B-36's bomb bay, presumably hoping to confuse enemy ground control when pilots reported back that "The big plane is shitting little planes."
Proving that humans and B-36 bombers aren't that different after all, it was much more difficult for the aircraft to un-shit the Goblin. The first time test pilot Ed Schoch attempted to get the plane back into the belly, the trapeze hook they were trying to snag him with smashed through his canopy, knocking him unconscious and tearing away his flight helmet. Luckily Ed woke up before an unscheduled air/ground interface, at which point he managed to land the crippled aircraft on skids, a dangerous maneuver made necessary by the fact that the Goblin was designed without landing gear. Way to think ahead guys!
Four out of the six test flights ended up with similar white-knuckled crash landings in the desert, which wasn't exactly great for attracting pilots to the program, which left Ed Schoch to fly all six missions, meaning he either had a death wish or he fucked the wrong guy's wife. Either way, we're surprised he managed to fit his balls in such a tiny aircraft.
America scrapped the idea, concluding that planes simply weren't big enough to land another plane on. Russia, being Russia, arrived at a different conclusion...
The Kalinin K-7 parked on what used to be a forest.
Most of you will remember the AT-AT walkers from The Empire Strikes Back as both pretty fucking rad, and among the most impractical vehicles in sci-fi movie history.
But before the rebel alliance could show the world how easy it is to trip a giant robot with legs, General Electric was developing their own AT-ATs. The result was the Quadruped, a four-legged "walking truck" that was driven using the operator's own arms and legs.