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Grumman OV-1D Mohawk

18 February 2021

The Technical Observer’s side of this Grumman OV-1D Mohawk of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville OR—©2009 Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Grumman’s Mohawk—a most underrated, unreviled and unheralded aircraft! It served for decades flying missions in the Vietnam War, monitoring the Korean DMZ as well as the borders with East Germany and those of Iraq War No. 1—but who knows this? Everything from sophisticated new antiaircraft emplacements north of the DMZ to vehicle movements along the Iraqi border were identified and targeted by Mohawks repetitively drumming along their flight paths.

The D model could do either of the three tasks of the previous models as it had the nose mounted 180° panoramic camera with bays in the fuselage housing either another panoramic downward aimed camera, or IR (infra-red frequencies) camera or the power and control units for the SLAR (Side Looking Radar) of which the 18 foot long fiberglass antenna pod would be installed along the aircraft’s right side. Pick a mission and install the proper gear in less than an hour! Visual and IR missions required a return to base to download and process the acquired imagery. SLAR missions were in real time as the gear could detect moving as well as stationary objects with about a 3 minute latency). SLAR range was well over 150 miles when looking either right or left at mission altitude which was usually around ~16,000 feet. SLAR range was halved if looking left and right simultaneously. Single engine failure on take off was a nasty trait as pilot reaction had to be immediate and powerful since the asymmetric thrust would  create an almost instant snap roll toward the dead engine—drop the wing stores, throttle back the live engine a bit and stomp on the proper rudder pedal with an Olympian’s single leg press record attempt effort.

The United States Army Aviation Museum has SLAR installed on its OV-1B Mohawk (see the OV-1B with SLAR post). This OV-1D is in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

Power provided by a pair of Lycoming T-53-L-701 turboprop engines (1400 shp each) made possible the Mohawk’s forte of flying for a bit over 4 hours per mission. Range with a pair of 150 gallon external tanks approached 950 miles and cruising speeds were a bit over 200 mph (although it would get to its never exceed speed of 450 mph much too quickly when in a dive). The service ceiling of 25,000 feet was hardly obtained as the aircraft would have little control authority at those heights and really only be hanging off the three bladed constant speed Hamilton Standard props. The crew sat side-by-side with the pilot on the left and the TO (technical observer) on the right. Mohawks have roomy cockpits for military aircraft which also enjoy unexcelled visibility. There was no provision made for dual controls but ejection seats were standard as were speed brakes.

The pilot’s side of this Grumman OV-1D Mohawk of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville OR—©2009 Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Excellent view of the nose mounted two faceted viewing glass for the KA-60 panoramic (180° field of view which would photograph with a successive 60% overlap) camera in this Grumman OV-1D Mohawk of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville OR—©2009 Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft


2 Comments leave one →
  1. 18 February 2021 16:40

    The bulbous canopy allows the pilot and observer to lean over and see underneath the aircraft. That feature in an observation plane was pioneered by the German Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, used during WW2.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      19 February 2021 00:35

      Indeed…the Storch is a fantastic aircraft design.

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