Roden 1/48 OV-1A Mohawk
KIT #: 406
PRICE: €30 in 2005
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


The Grumman OV-1 Mohawk is an armed military observation and attack aircraft that was designed for battlefield surveillance and light strike capabilities. It has a twin turboprop configuration, and carries two crew members in side-by-side seating. The Mohawk was intended to operate from short, unimproved runways.

It entered production in October 1959 and served the US Army in Europe, Korea, the VietNam War, Central and South America, Alaska, and during Desert Storm in the Middle East. Apart from the U.S., other operators were The Israeli Air Force and the Argentine Army Aviation. A total of 380 Mohawks were produced.

The first production OV-1A arrived with the US 7th Army in Germany in February 1961. 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 an additional 2 pylons per wing installation, in order to be able to carry containers for 2.75-inch missiles, 500-pound bombs, or 5-inch Zuni missiles, with the modified aircraft designated JOV-1A. Six of them were sent to the 23rd Special Aviation Group in Vietnam as test platforms, but results were poor and the “JOV” experiment was cancelled. The 54 modified aircraft were back named OV-1A and, though they no longer performed the duties of army air support, they kept the extra pylons.
Based out of Phu Hiep AB and later Tuy Hoa, first known as the Black Hawks, then changed to Phantom Hawks, the brave guys of 225th Aviation Surveillance Airplane Company flew Recon missions with their Mohawks into Cambodia, Laos and other places.

You may read Scott’s thorough preview 
here (as well as Tom’s and Dan’s wonderful build reviews).    

I was really excited when I saw this kit hitting the shelves, back in 2005 and soon got my hands on it. Upon opening the box, I was amazed by the level of detail: at last we had a detailed “mainstream” quarter scale Mohawk! On the minus side, the styrene looked somehow brittle, which might be an issue in detaching and handling little detail parts (such as the windscreen wipers – yes, they are separate!). Also, the surfaces in general were a tad on the pebbly side, which means a thorough all-around fine grit sanding might be necessary before painting).

I couldn’t hold myself and immediately started to detach the main parts from the sprues and, in fact, attempted to glue a couple of subassemblies. Then, for whatever reason, I lost mojo on it at those very early stages and stored the practically unstarted kit in my SoD (Shelf of Doom), only to rediscover it a few months ago, deciding to put it together.

I started by assembling the cockpit bits. These included the four piece throttle quadrant, seven (!) piece instrument panel, two piece roof mounted console and the two piece foot pedals. I particularly liked the well detailed thin-styrene, roof console face that has to be bended and attached onto the console body.

I then glued the rear cockpit wall onto the cockpit floor (that doubles as a front wheel well) and attached all cockpit bits onto the assembly, Basic cockpit color was Hu140, with black instrument panels, anti glare dashboard, stick grip and throttle handles, aluminum foot pedals and red fire extinguisher (with black restrain belt). The instrument faces were silver dry brushed, with some interest added by painting red, yellow and white “switches”.

The very detailed seats (each a 9-piece affair) were then assembled. They were painted black, with black/yellow ejection and quick release handles, red/green seat cushions and gray head cushions. Seat belts were fabricated from khaki doped masking tape, their buckles simulated by my beloved extrafine Pilot silver pen. The seats, as well as the control stick, were left out to be installed at later phases. Apart from the lack of seat belts (which is an easy fix), all in all I have to say that I was very satisfied with the busyness of the cockpit (a most prominent area at the Mohawk), as provided by the kit.

Next step was to attach the two fuselage parts together, with the assembled cockpit and dashboard trapped between them. Fit was good, but please note that, since this kit seems to fall into the “close tolerance” category (CAD design?), all mating surfaces have to be thoroughly cleaned, in order to avoid accumulative mismatches. I also attached the air brakes at “closed” position, as most ground pics show them closed.

Moving onto the wings, I stuffed as many lead weights as I could inside the front part of the nacelles, since the Mohawk model is a candidate for severe tail sitting (alternatively, you may add weights aft of the cockpit, as Tom and Dan did on their builds). The two wing halves were then joined, having beforehand drilled out the corresponding pylons locating holes for the version I was building. I attached the rear wing “extensions” aft of the engines, as well as the two piece wingtips. I did not install the clear wingtip lights (something that I regretted, as I found out that they did not conform well too late, with the model painted and decalled…).

The instructions want you to insert the prop axles through the holes of the engine fronts part and attach the rear parts of the prop hubs to the axles, so the assembled props can rotate freely. Feeling that such procedure would compromise the hub looks, I elected not to attach the rear hub parts. Instead, I glued a styrene piece behind each axle’s rear end, as to trap the axles, being able to attach the propellers at end phases. The engine front parts were then attached to the wings and the wings were attached to the fuselage. The props were assembled at that time, with their blades feathered, as was the Mohawk’s ground posture.

The 8-piece tailplane with the two extra fins was assembled and attached at the rear. Fit was good here, too. A balance check showed that the model’s center of gravity was just in front of the main wheels. Though I was tempted to add some more weight before attaching the nose, I refrained from doing so, as the kit provided landing gear is definitely “scale”, meaning thin and flimsy. Should some extra weight be needed, the only available minspace would be the seats' interior…

Anyway, I attached the nose and, upon drying, I gave the model an initial coarse sanding, followed by puttying wherever was needed (not really much). After attaching the 4 minuscule air scoops on top of the engine nacelles and the two exit louvers at their bottom, I gave the model, as well as the already assembled 4-piece wing tanks, a final 1000 grit fine sanding and headed to the paint shop!

I first painted landing gear parts, wheel rims, wheel bays and door innards white (it is true that in those early camos the main gear doors innards were often painted with the main camo color, an early Army practice, I assume, but I went “all white”, which was also observed) The oleos were painted silver, with my usual Pilot silver pen. I then painted the topside walkways Hu140 Gull Gray. Upon curing, I appropriately masked everything, before applying the main color.

I decided to finish my Mohawk as the "Phantom Hawks” 60-3736 JOV-1A, flown by Capt. Mike Langer, as it stood in Vietnam in December 1964. Instructions state to paint it dark olive drab, but actually (and according to Scott’s review) the correct color should be FS14064 “Gloss Olive Green”, which is a dark green. One of the kit suggestions for the “dark olive drab” was Hu66. I happen to have two 20yo bottles. Of pure curiosity I decided to use them, as, upon stirring, the shade looked more dark green than drab, close to the color I was opting for.

It was sprayed and cured like a charm (never had problems with Humbrol enamel “greens”) and, after a good gloss coat with Future, I persuaded myself that it was kind of the desired “Gloss Olive Green”! The two external tanks, all 6 pylons and doors externals, were painted with the same color, too.

I then masked and painted black the quite a few leading edges, the front antiglare area and aft engine wing sections. The props were sprayed at that time, too. The rear portion of the hubs, as well as the turboprop engine intake lips, were carefully hand painted Testors Steel. A coat of Future prepared the model for decals.

I used the kit decals, which, despite my initial worries, were adequately opaque and thin, adhered well and did not silver at all.

I attached the seats and the control stick in the cockpit area. I then attached the sway braces (painted gunmetal) to the six pylons and attached the pylons to the wings. The external tanks were attached to the inner pylons. The remaining 4 pylons were left unloaded. I then attached the landing gear parts, taking my time, to obtain a reasonably aligned result. The wheels had their tire area painted black and were attached to the landing gear. After the glue cured, I let my Mohawk rest and, to my satisfaction the weight added was just sufficient to prevent tail sitting, since, as stated above, the “scale” landing gear is flimsy and will not tolerate too much weight…

The three piece exhausts were assembled, sanded smooth, painted Testors Burned Metal and attached. The props had their tips painted yellow (again, a deviation from the instructions, which did not call it for the version I was building, but I saw pics of contemporary examples sporting them). The top antenna mast and the fin located mass balance were attached and painted fuselage color.

Since I had done no sun fading (meaning a relatively “fresh” painting, I went  “light” in weathering, mainly consisting in some hinges “escaping grease”, engine staining and general dirtying. I used dry pastels of mainly brown/black shades (some white for the exhausts, as well) and (for the “greasing”) thinned droplets of brown tempera, faired towards the airflow. The propeller blades received some chipping at their leading edges, too. I then gave the model a final almost gloss coat (90/10 gloss/matt).

I affixed the fin top and under-fuselage beacon and the two wingtip lights, accordingly painted with Humbrol clear red and green. I was not satisfied with the fit of the wingtip lights, as they do not look blended enough – I should have installed them at early construction phases and sand them smooth….well, next time!

After I hand painted the well-defined frames of the 4 canopy parts, I affixed them in place with spot amounts of styrene glue (I went for my usual “closed” canopy posture, being lazy to super detail the cockpit, with the “preserve the aircraft lines” cheap excuse…). I had to fiddle around a bit, in order to get all 4 clear parts reasonably set, as to provide a homogenous canopy look. The resulting gaps were taken care of white glue, with touch ups performed as appropriate. Two windscreen wipers were fabricated from stretched sprue, since the kit supplied ones were so brittle that they broke upon my slightest attempt to detach them from the sprue. They were painted black and attached to the windscreen.

There are Mohawk pics showing them sporting two aerial wires, run from the middle fin to two different top of fuselage points. However, neither the instructions called for any, nor there seem to be worn by Mohawks at the early Vietnam era pics. Of course, this is just speculation, since the blurred and “wrong angle” b/w pics leave a lot to the imagination…anyway, I decided not to apply them.

I then called this Mohawk done!

We were always dreaming of a detailed quarter scale Mohawk and Roden provided it. The resulting model catches the distinctive shape of the Mohawk well and looks very impressive and detailed, even out of the box (OOB). Kit decals, despite initial concerns, behaved well, too.

Should you wish to go aftermarket, you will not be disappointed: apart from decal options, there seem to be quite a few resin and PE enhancements out there, ranging from PE and resin cockpit enhancements, beautiful resin seats, bulged wheels, detailed wheel wells, nice open panel engines and electronics bays, detailed props, wing pylons, one piece engine exhausts, you name it!

It is not among the easiest builds, requiring good parts cleanup before gluing, as the tolerances are tight. The smaller parts were on the brittle side, so some extra care must be taken there. Clear parts also required some careful placement, in order to fit in position, whereas the wingtip lights do not fit at all, and should be attached at early wing construction stages, in order to be sanded smooth (do the radical act to follow the instructions here…). Taking into account the above considerations, this kit is not for the novice modeler, but, rather for one with some accumulated experience.

Highly recommended!

Spiros Pendedekas

27 September 2021

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