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OV-1 Mohawk
US Army OV-1 Mohawk
Role light attack and observation aircraft
Manufacturer Grumman
First flight 14 April 1959
Introduction October 1959
Retired September 1996 USA
Status Limited service
Primary users United States Army (historical)
Argentine Army Aviation
Produced 1959-1970
Number built 380

The Grumman OV-1 Mohawk is an armed military observation and attack aircraft, designed for battlefield surveillance and light strike capabilities. It is of twin turboprop configuration, and carried two crew members with side by side seating. The Mohawk was intended to operate from short, unimproved runways in support of United States Army maneuver forces.


The Mohawk began as a joint Army-Marine program through the then-Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer), for an observation/attack plane that would outperform the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog. In June 1956, the Army issued Type Specificationn TS145, which called for the development and procurement of a two-seat, twin turboprop aircraft designed to operate from small, 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. 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 DoD selected Grumman Aircraft Corporation's G-134 design as the winner of the competition in 1957. Marine requirements contributed an unusual feature to the design. As originally proposed, the OF-1 could be fitted with water skis that would allow the aircraft to land at sea and taxi to island beaches at 20 kts. Since the Marines were authorized to operate fixed-wing aircraft in the close air support (CAS) role, the mockup also featured underwing pylons for rockets, bombs, and other stores.

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 from 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 radar imaging capability of the Mohawk was to prove a significant advance in both peace and war. The SLAR could look through foliage and map terrain, presenting the observer with a film image of the earth below only minutes after the area was scanned. In military operations, the image was split in two parts, one showing fixed terrain features, the other spotting moving targets.

The prototype (YAO-1AF) first flew on April 14, 1959. The OV-1 entered production in October 1959. In mid-1961, the first Mohawks to serve with U.S. forces overseas were delivered to the 7th Army at Sandhofen Airfield near Mannheim, Germany. Before its formal acceptance, the camera-carrying AO-1AF was flown by Ralph Donnell on a tour of 29 European airfields to show it off before the U.S. Army field commanders and potential European customers. In addition to their Vietnam and European service, SLAR-equipped Mohawks began operational missions in 1963 patrolling the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Germany and France shown early interest in the Mohawk, and Grumman actually signed a license production agreement with the French manufacturer Breguet Aviation in exchange for American rights to the Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft.

The very nature of the joint Army/Marine program had forced design compromises, such as ejection seats, that made the aircraft an expensive and, sometimes, openly resisted item in Army budgets. Orders for the OV-1 stopped in Fiscal 1964, and the controversy in the Pentagon over the armed Mohawk peaked with a 1965 directive that prohibited the Army from operating armed fixed-wing aircraft. Operational success in Vietnam led to additional Mohawk orders in 1966, and by 1968, five surveillance companies were operating in Southeast Asia.

Last of the Mohawk versions to enter production was the OV-1D with more powerful T53-701 engines, improved avionics, and interchangeable mission pallets that make it possible to switch the aircraft from infrared to SLAR configuration in about an hour. The first four OV-1Ds were prototypes converted from earlier production airframes, and the first flew in 1969. These were followed by 37 new-build aircraft, the last of which was delivered in December 1970.

Over the years, the mission and the aircraft underwent many changes and roughly 380 were built over all variants. Mohawk variants included the JOV-1 [armed reconnaissance], OV-1A, [visual and photographic], OV-1B [visual, photographic, and side-looking 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]. A four-engined Model 134E with tiltwings and tail ducted fan for control for VTOL was proposed to the Army but not built. Model 134R was a tandem cockpit version offered to meet the Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA) requirement, but the NA300 was chosen instead becoming the OV-10.

Operational history

The OV-1 served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and during Operation Desert Storm. Starting in 1972, the Army National Guard (ARNG) began to receive the Mohawk, with the ARNG eventually operating 13 OV-1Bs, 24 OV-1Cs, and 16 OV-1Ds serving with three aviation units in Georgia and Oregon.

U.S. Army OV-1s were retired from Europe in 1992, from Korea in September 1996, and finally in the US in 1996, superseded by newer systems, newer aircraft, and the evolution of spy satellites. The OV-1 was primarily replaced by militarized version of the de Havilland DH-7 turboprop commuter airliner equipped with a SLAR system until the U.S. Air Force's E-8 J-STARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) aircraft, based on converted Boeing 707 airframes with powerful side-looking radar, became fully operational.

As of 2011, Alliant Techsystems has partnered with the Broadbay Group and Mohawk Technologies of Florida in a venture to return an armed, modernized version of the OV-1D to operational use as a counter-insurgency aircraft. A demonstrator has been equipped with a FLIR Star Safire turret and a ventral, trainable M230 Chain Gun.[1][2]



Carolinas Aviation Museum OV-1D Mohawk 874 in flight over Stanly County, North Carolina 2006

YAO-1 (YOV-1A)
Initial prototypes (9 built).
OV-1A (AO-1AF)
Daylight observation variant (64 built).
OV-1B (AO-1BF)
SLAR variant (101 built).
OV-1C (AO-1CF)
IR reconnaissance variant (169 built).
Consolidated sensor variant (37 new, 82 conversions).
OV-1As and OV-1Cs fitted with armament (59 conversions).
Quick Look ELINT machines (2 conversions).
Quick Look II ELINT machine (31 conversions).
Prototype for unproduced modernized variant (one built).


Former operators
United States

Surviving aircraft

OV-1D Mohawk at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon

Below is a list of flying and static Mohawks which survive:

Flying Mohawks

  • Argentine Army Aviation received 23 OV-1 in the 1990s. Ten are operational and the rest are used for spare parts.
  • American Wings Air Museum, Blaine, Minnesota operates three Mohawks (64-14262, 68-15936, and 69-17021).
  • Carolinas Aviation Museum flies two Mohawks to airshows (874 & 890)
  • Cavanaugh Flight Museum flies one Mohawk[3]
  • American Warplane Museum in Wisconsin flies 2 or 3 Mohawks
  • Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, Hampton, Georgia Flies 631 "B" Model and 005 "d" Model[4]
  • Air Heritage Museum, Beaver County Airport, Pennsylvania currently flying 1 Mohawk

Static display Mohawks

Mohawk OV-1 Observation Aircraft on display Mississippi Armed Forces Museum

  • The 1st Cavalry Division Museum at Fort Hood, Texas displays a static OV-1D as part of the outdoor exhibit[citation needed]
  • The US Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama displays a static OV-1D as part of the outdoor exhibit on Red Cloud Avenue[9]
  • The Wings of Eagles Discovery Center owns an OV-1C on static display among its collection[10]
  • The Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum (The Air Zoo) displays a static OV-1D in its restoration center[citation needed]
  • Headquarters, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, (Georgia Army National Guard) in Macon, Georgia displays a static OV-1D outside its armory on Shurling Drive among other historic vehicles[citation needed]
  • The Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby has an OV-1 on static display
  • McClain's Military Museum in Anderson, Indiana has a OV-1 on static display as part of its outdoor exhibit[citation needed]
  • Texas Air Museum in Slaton, Texas has a modified OV-1D that was used by NASA that is on loan from the Museum of Naval Aviation.

Specifications (OV-1D)

OV-1 Mohawk 3-view.gif

Data from Jane's Civil and Military Aircraft Upgrades 1994–95[11]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two: pilot, observer
  • Length: 41 ft 0 in (12.50 m)
  • Wingspan: 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
  • Wing area: 360 ft² (33.45 m²)
  • Empty weight: 12,054 lb (5,467 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 15,544 lb (7,051 kg) (Normal take-off weight, IR mission)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 18,109 lb (8,214 kg) (SLAR mission)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Lycoming T53-L-701 turboprops, 1,400 shp (1,044 kW) each


  • Never exceed speed: 450 mph (390 knots, 724 km/h)
  • Maximum speed: 305 mph (265 knots, 491 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m) (IR mission)
  • Cruise speed: 207 mph (180 knots, 334 km/h) (econ cruise)
  • Stall speed: 84 mph (73 knots, 135 km/h)
  • Range: 944 mi (820 nmi, 1,520 km)(SLAR mission)
  • Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
  • Rate of climb: 3,450 ft/min (17.5 m/s)

See also


  1. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Washington, DC: McGraw-Hill/DTI. April 2011. p. 40. ISSN 1935-6269. 
  2. Reed, John (2010-10-28). "Old School COIN Planes Keep Coming Back". Defensetech. 
  3. "Grumman OV-1D Mohawk". Cavanaugh Flight Museum. Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  4. "OV-1B Mohawk - High Performance Reconnaissance / Attack Airplane". Army Aviation Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  5. Fort Huachaca Museum website retrieved 2013-06-02
  6. Aircraft Collection Index - Pima Air & Space Museum retrieved 2013-06-02
  7. Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum military aircraft collection retrieved 2013-06-02
  8. Mohawk at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum retrieved 2013-06-02
  9. Fort Rucker Museum fixed-wing aircraft collection retrieved 2013-06-02
  10. "Aircraft". Wings of Eagles Discovery Center. Retrieved 2011-09-07. 
  11. Michell 1994, pp. 366–367.
  • Michell, Simon. Jane's Civil and Military Aircraft Upgrades 1994-95. Coulsdon, UK:Jane's Information Group, 1994. ISBN 0-7106-1208-7.
  • OV-1 Mohawk Walk Around (Neubeck), Squadron/Signal Publications (2007)

The initial version of this article was based on a public domain article from Greg Goebel's Vectorsite.

External links

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