Photo by Max Haynes -
History: A one-of-a-kind design, the OV-1
was the first turboprop plane to enter US Army service. It was finally retired as late as
1996, and is one of the most modern warbird in the hands of collectors.
The OV-1 was built as a joint US Army and Marine Corps project for a modern battlefield
surveillance aircraft. The Marine Corps pulled out of the project before their prototype
could be built, but the US Army began placing its orders late in 1959 for the OV-1A
and OV-1B. The -1A and -1B differed in that the -1B variant had
an 18 foot side-looking radar mounted under the fuselage and offset to the right. The
OV-1B also had an internal camera with in-flight processor and an increased wingspan to
cope with the extra equipment. While the plane was slow, its huge triple finned tail and
engines mounted on top of the wings gave the Mohawk great maneuverability. To protect
against small arms fire from the battlefields over which it kept a watchful eye, the
cockpit was armored with an aluminum-alloy floor, flak curtains and bullet-resistant
Experience in Vietnam soon showed that the policy of
operating reconnaissance aircraft unarmed was not always wise. In response, a new variant,
the JOV-1A, was built with four underwing hard-points for guns
and rockets. The OV-1C followed and was similar to the OV-1A,
but was equipped to use the new infra-red surveillance systems. The final production
version, the OV-1D, had side-loading doors for mounting a
variety of electronic intelligence equipment. These served over the Cold War battle lines
of Europe with great success.
There are examples of each Mohawk variant still airworthy, and they continue to see active
service in Argentina. Over its production run, 375 Mohawks of all types were built.
[History by David MacGillivray]
Nicknames: Whispering Death
Engines: Two 1,400-hp Avco Lycoming T53-L-701 turboprops
Weight: Empty 12,054 lbs., Max
Takeoff 18,900 lbs.
Wing Span: 48ft. 0in.
Length: 41ft. 0in.
Height: 12ft. 8in.
Number Built: 375
Number Still Airworthy:
Air Heritage, Inc. OV-1 Page --
Beaver Falls, PA, USA
OV-1.com -- A history of the OV-1 in Vietnam
from 1962 to 1972.
OV-1 Mohawk Association
The OV-1 Mohawk Page
By Peter Michas
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Doublestar Group, unless otherwise noted.
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