Kit No. 02616
Decals: Two versions – both U.S. Army
Comments: Raised panel lines
The Grumman OV-1 Mohawk began as a joint Army-Marine program, through the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics, for an observation/attack plane that would outperform the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog in battlefield surveillance and light strike missions. In June 1956, the Army issued Type Specificationn TS145, which called for the development and procurement of a side-by-side two-seat, twin turboprop aircraft designed to operate from small, short, unimproved fields under all weather conditions. It would be faster, with greater firepower, and heavier armour than the Bird Dog, which had proved vulnerable during the Korean War, but was nonetheless pressed into service throughout America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia. The Mohawk’s mission would include observation, artillery spotting, air control, emergency resupply, naval target spotting, liaison, and radiological monitoring. The Navy specified that the aircraft must be capable of operating from small “jeep” escort class carriers (CVEs). The Defense Department selected Grumman Aircraft Corporation’s G-134 design as the winner of the competition in 1957.
The prototype (YAO-1AF) first flew on April 14, 1959. The OV-1 entered production in October 1959 and served the U.S. Army in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Central and South America, Alaska, and during Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East. In Vietnam, the Mohawk was used for electronic surveillance of the Ho Chi Minh Trail to detect the level of enemy activity at various points along this strategic supply route for both the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. Mohawks were effective in this role, in no small measure due to their twin T53 turbine engines, which were so quiet that NVA/VC did not hear them coming. For this reason, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong referred to the Mohawk as “Whispering Death.”
Over the years, the mission and the aircraft underwent many changes. About 380 were built and deployed in Vietnam, Germany, Korea, and Desert Storm. Mohawk variants included the JOV-1 [armed reconnaissance], OV-1A, [visual and photographic], OV-1B [visual, photographic, and side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) pod], the OV-1C [visual, photographic, and infrared], and the OV-1D (SLAR pod and bigger wings), OV-1E [enlarged fuselage for more sensor operators or cargo], EV-1E [Special electronic intelligence installation] and RV-1E [advanced ELINT Reconnaissance].
As often happens, inter-service rivalry played a role in how the Mohawk was deployed. The Air Force did not like the armament capability of the Mohawk and tried to get it removed. The Marines did not want the sophisticated sensors the Army wanted, so when their Navy sponsors opted to buy a fleet oil tanker, they dropped out of the program. The Army continued with armed Mohawks and developed cargo pods that could be dropped from underwing hard points to resupply troops in emergencies. The Mohawk was removed from U.S. Army service in September 1996.
Other than the U.S. Army, the OV-1 has been operated by South Korea, Israel, and Argentina, where it remains in service today.
Hasegawa’s OV-1B Mohawk is molded in grey and consists of 59 parts, 3 of them clear plastic. The cockpit is basic, having no engraved detail and a decal for the instrument panel, which looks like it may be a bit oversize and require some trimming. The engraved detail on the pilot figures is quite good; there are two small injection holes in their lower backs, but these will not be visible once they are seated in the cockpit. The distinctive side-looking airborne radar pod is included, but since the Mohawk was primarily an electronic surveillance craft, there are no under wing stores with the exception of two drop tanks.
In service, though, the Mohawk was at times fitted with gun pods, rockets or bombs to give it some light strike capability, and appropriate ordnance can probably be obtained from one of Hasegawa’s aircraft weapons sets. Unfortunately, there are no illustrations as to the specific weaponry the Mohawk may have carried, as is sometimes provided in Hasegawa’s instructions. Overall, the instructions are clear and easy to follow with paint references for various parts, and should make for a straightforward build. This kit provides a smaller if less detailed alternative to the Roden kit in 1/48 scale. Highly recommended.