During WWII, multipurpose aircraft such as the American Piper Cub, the
British Westland Lysander and the German Fiesler Storch, were used for
performing multiple tasks (reconnaissance, communication, artillery
spotting, etc.) with considerable success. But it seemed that the jet
age that commenced at the end of the 1940s would radically change the
nature of aircraft and the tasks that aviation would undertake.
However, the general military doctrine of that time was based on the
premise of conducting military actions using all types of existing
resources, and the necessity of introducing new multi-purpose aircraft
In 1954 the U.S. Department of Defense put out for tender a requirement
for a new aircraft, which could be used, for performing the tasks
mentioned above. According to the tender, this had to be a lightweight
two-seater aircraft with twin turbo-prop engines. One of the principal
requirements was the ability to take-off from small airfields,
unsuitable for regular aircraft. Among several proposals, the winner
was the G-134 aircraft designed by Grumman.
According to the requirements of naval aviation, these aircraft should
also be suitable for operation from escort class aircraft carriers.
However, the Navy later refused to participate in the G-134 project
since it was impractical to combine the functions of two different
aircraft within one project. The Army continued to finance the
promising project and in the spring of 1959 the first test flights took
place of the aircraft now classified as the YAO-1AF.
The aircraft had a rather strange appearance - a wide front fuselage in
the cockpit area where the pilots were seated side-by-side resembled an
insect's bug eyes. Unlike the original design's T-shaped tail unit, the
pre-series aircraft featured a regular one, but with three vertical
stabilizers. The test flights of the nine pre-serial aircraft lasted
until 1961. Shortcomings were eliminated and the aircraft was
recommended for series production, its code changed to OV-1A. Initially
the aircraft was given the name Montauk - after one of the smaller
Native American tribes; later this was changed to that of the
well-known Mohawk tribe.
The first production OV-1A arrived with the US 7th Army in Germany in
February 1961. The main task of early version aircraft was
photoreconnaissance. A KA-60 high-resolution camera, with night
photography capability, was installed inside the fuselage. Some design
changes were made in response to the requests of pilots and service
staff - now the front part of the fuselage could be opened, the
undercarriage was reinforced and the electronics were improved. The
Mohawk was the first turbo-prop aircraft received into service by the
Later, new requirements were formulated for this aircraft - the ability
to mark specific targets with the help of smoke pots, as well as the
ability to withstand ground fire. At first the aircraft had only two
pylons underneath its wings, intended for use with additional fuel
tanks; shortly afterwards 54 aircraft were returned to service stations
for additional pylon installation.
As a result, the modified wing design provided six pylons, able to
carry containers for 2.75-inch missiles, 500-pound bombs, or 5-inch
Zuni missiles. Six modified aircraft, known as the JOV-1A, were sent to
Vietnam where they underwent tests with the 23rd Special Aviation
This short experience persuaded the Army commands that an air force is
a more efficient operator of aviation than the Army, and a decision was
reached that the JOV-1A experiment should be stopped. The aircraft was
renamed the OV-1A and it no longer performed the duties of army air
support, although it was decided not to remove the pylons. The OV-1A
Mohawk was still conducting photoreconnaissance missions, and it was
frequently fitted with armament for self defense purposes. This was not
the end of the OV-1 as specialized battlefield intelligence variants of
the aircraft were operated until the planes were finally removed from
service in the mid-1990s.
Thanks to Roden for the historical background. Now for a bit of added
info from reader Mike Stevens, 225 Avn Co 1966-68: "The
225th got together a Ft. Lewis Wa. in 1966 and went to RVN end of April and
1st of May in sevaral C-141 flights 1967. I think official in country date
is May 1. Originally name was Black Hawks the first year and as we finished
our year and new people took over they changedto Phantom Hawks. I was with
the initial group from Ft. Lewis. I did not know Mike Langer and figure he
was a Phantom Hawk, so his date in country (at least with the 225th) had to
be 1968 or later. It is possible he flew OV-1's earlier in VN, but not with
the 225th as you can see. I worked on 3736 as a 41G20 (aerial camera repair
tech.). Flew 2nd seat for tests and gp when I could. Great plane to fly in
and aerobatic too. Grumman test pilot could make it sing."
When I saw that this kit was coming
last year, I was pretty psyched up about it. The Mohawk isn't a glamour
plane by any stretch of the imagination, but it was unusual (which always
strikes a chord in my kit desires), it was in
service a long time and it was a design that I happened to like. Oddly,
I've not built the old Hasegawa 1/72 version, but know that this larger
one will not remain unbuilt!
If you have bought any of the Roden
kits over the last year or so, then you know that they are well molded
and generally go together well if one is a careful constructor. Like
Dragon kits, one cannot just toss together a Roden model. You have
also noted a steady improvement with each new kit being that much better
engineered and more builder-friendly.
After opening the rather large box, I
started going over the kit with a critical eye. Much to my delight, I
found no sink areas, no flash and no problems with ejector pin marks. The
clear parts are individually packaged so there is no problem with
scratches or stress marks and the parts are commendably transparent and
thin. Not all pieces are used in this variant, so you can be sure that
there are at least one or two more boxings of this kit to come,
including, I'm pretty sure, a modern version with the SLAR pod, as
several of the unused clear bits are a more modern instrument panel and
several CRT boxes.
The cockpit is very well appointed with
individual rudder pedals and nicely done 9 piece seats. You have the
option to leave off the wing pylons should you desire, but I've rarely
seen an OV-1 without them in place. In addition to large fuel tanks, you
have what appears to be a gun pod and two different rocket pods to help
put something under the wings. You also have two different noses for the
plane, one a more modern one with a landing light in it and molded in
clear. Speed brakes can be positioned open or closed as you wish.
Wheel wells are nice and deep and well detailed.
Instructions are excellent with very
clearly done construction drawings and any color information required for
the different decal options clearly marked. You can have your OV-1 in any
color you want as long as it is OD with black-grey wing walk areas. These
wing walk areas will have to be painted in as the decals only provide the
black outlines. The black engine anti-glare panels and wing/tail leading
edges will have to be painted on as well. I don't recall seeing any
indication of nose weight needed but with its short coupled landing gear,
it will definitely need all you can supply.
Decal options are as follows:
- Grumman JOV-1A Mohawk, s/n 60-3736, 225th Aviation Company,
"Phantom Hawks", flown by Capt. Mike Langer, Vietnam, December 1964.
- Grumman OV-1A Mohawk, s/n 59-2617, 23rd Special Warfare Aviation
Detachment, Vietnam, 1963.
- Grumman OV-1A Mohawk, s/n 63-13125, 73 Avn Co (AS), An Xugen
Province, flown by Lt. Johnson, Vietnam, September 1964.
- Grumman JOV-1A Mohawk, s/n 60-3729, 23rd Special Warfare Aviation
Detachment, Vietnam, 1964.
The first two are in FS
14064 "Gloss Olive Green" and not OD as stated in the instructions, with full color national insignia and
highly visible 'ARMY' markings. (Thanks to R.Jackson for setting me
straight on this) The others are in the variants with no
national insignia and just the black 'United States Army' markings and
small serial numbers. These later aircraft are undoubtedly in the matte
OD. Those of you with some Army National Guard markings could easily do
one of the many Guard planes as they were relatively non-descript as
well. I know that at least one OV-1 was in an overall white scheme with
red-orange wing and tail tips, but you'd have to dig up some references
to do that one. Decals are quite extensive, including all the little data
decals and there is a separate instruction sheet for applying those.
A really nice touch is a copy of the box top artwork included with the
kit. This has none of the logos on it and would be suitable for framing.
This one looks like the best Roden kit yet. I'd have to say that they are
getting closer and closer to the 'big boys' with every new kit they
produce, and this one seems on the verge of reaching its goal. It is highly detailed and
seems to be well engineered. I Know I'm looking forward to starting on
mine and you should seek it out when you get the opportunity.