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In-Box Review
Grumman OV-1B Mohawk

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

The most obvious change in the OV-1B was the fitting of an 18 ft long pod under the starboard side of the fuselage. The pod contained an SLAR (Side Looking Airborne Radar) - the system included an automatic film-processing unit for a permanent record of the radar images and gave the ability to track moving targets on the ground day or night - something that was used extensively during the Vietnam concflict along the Ho Chi Min trail and to monitor enemy activity along the DMZ.. With the introduction of the SLAR, the cockpit was modified to provide a radar operator's position, while the pilot was provided with an autopilot system to aid in his increased workload.

To improve lift and single-engine performance, the wingspan of the OV-1B was increased by almost 6 ft and a number of weight-saving measures were introduced, including the deletion of the fuselage air-brakes and the outer-wing ordnance racks - most 'Bs only carried drop-tanks on the inboard pylons.

The kit
Roden's new 1/48 OV-1B Mohawk is supplied in a solid "top and bottom" box, which protected the parts perfectly in the post, and consists of 7 sprues containing:
144 parts moulded in Roden's familiar beige-coloured styrene (plus parts not needed for this version)
14 clear parts (again, plus spares)
Decals for 3 colour schemes.

The parts are mostly very cleanly moulded but, on the review sample, some on sprue "D" show some flash. A few of the thicker pieces have small sink marks, which shouldn't be hard to deal with and, overall, the parts have a slightly "textured" surface and will benefit from polishing. Panel detail is engraved throughout. As with the full-size aircraft, the major changes in the kit are the radar pod and the wings.

The kit includes the full set of pylons and ordnance from the original release, so your spares box is going to think Christmas has come early! I've previously reviewed Roden's original OV-1A release, so I won't cover old ground; I'll concentrate on the new items here.

The SLAR pod is a very simple affair, being simply split into left and right halves. It lacks any panel detail, but checking references shows that the original was more detailed than the kit item suggests, with a separate nose-cone and some removable panels. (Thank you to our own CRS (Chuck Shanley) - an ex-Mohawk man for cornfirming that there was a lot more to the SLAR pod than is presented here).

The long-span wings are nicely done and feature deep wheel wells and beautifully thin trailing edges. As with the earlier model, the wingtips are separate multi-part affairs - I can't see why they needed to be moulded this way; all it means is that the need for a touch of filler more likely.

There is a faint raised line where the mould insert for the extended wings fits. This will take just a second to remove. "Aghh! Mould inserts!" I hear you cry... I can understand the reaction - they often are a signal for misaligned sections and ugly steps. What is really impressive here is how this faint line runs through some panel details - there is no disruption to the engraving at all - the line-up is so precise.

The cockpit features new consoles for the SLAR position and a different-style main instrument panel. The panel and radar screen are moulded in clear plastic and the panel includes a decal for the instrument faces to apply to the rear of the panel.

Because the model uses the original fuselage parts, the airbrakes are still included. The instructions say to simply cement them in the closed position. A test-fit shows some trimming will be needed to get a really close fit, so expect additional filling and sanding to remove any trace of them.

Instructions and decals
The instructions are very clearly illustrated and break the assembly down into 32 stages. Colours for most of the smaller parts and sub-assemblies are keyed to a paint chart which gives matches for the Humbrol, Testors, Lifecolor and Gunze Sangyo ranges.

Decals are provided for three aircraft;

1. OV-1B - N171 of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey in 1971. This aircraft is resplendent in hi-vis red and white with a black SLAR pod and areas on the cowlings. A photo of this aircraft in the Squadron "In Action" book shows what appears to be a radar pod/instrument pack mounted on an outboard pylon. This isn't pod provided in the kit (obviously, the rack is among the spares) - but, then again, maybe it wasn't always carried?
2. OV-1B s/n 59-2673, 131st Surveillance Airplane Company, Phu Bai, Vietnam 1967.
3. OV-1B s/n 64-14270, 73rd Surveillance Airplane Company, Vung Tau, Vietnam 1967.
Both the latter machines are finished in Olive Drab overall and carry no national insignia.

The decals themselves are thin and glossy finish and are printed in excellent register on the review sample. The Survey badge for option 1 is a complex 4-colour affair, but the register is spot on. The sheet includes a large number of stencils and a whole page of the instructions is dedicated to a 4-view placement diagram. 2 sets are provided; black for the survey aircraft and yellow for the camouflaged machines. The stencilling is all legible - including "DO NOT PAINT" included as part of the SLAR operator's step-up area on the radar-pod. From looking at the pics in the Squadron In-Action, this text should actually appear at the nose of the pod.

One point to watch out for is whether the yellow will be translucent; the items are printed without a white backing layer (this would be impractical for the stencilling), so applying them over Olive Drab may be a problem.

Roden's Mohawk has a lot going for it! For a model of this size and detail it represents excellent value for money. While it might not be "Tamigawa" quality, the kit will build into a fine, impressive model and modellers of intermediate ability upwards should have no troubles - recommended.

Thank you to MMD-Squadron for kindly supplying the review sample.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ARMORAMA
Following the success of the OV-1A, the next Mohawk variant introduced a number of modifications to increase the aircraft's capability still further and equip it for a specialised surveillance role.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 410
  Suggested Retail: $26.98
  Related Link: Roden
  PUBLISHED: May 17, 2005
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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