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Grumman OV-1 Mohawk Experiences


Grumman OV-1 Mohawk in Vietnam

The Grumman OV-1 Mohawk, which first flew in 1959, was designed as a two-seat battlefield surveillance aircraft for the Army. The Mohawk appeared in Vietnam as early as the summer of 1962, when six OV-1As from the 23rd Special Warfare Aviation Detachment arrived to support ARVN forces. They performed railroad surveillance, convoy observation, artillery adjustment and night illumination as well as general visual and photographic reconnaissance missions, and produced a wealth of intelligence information. Hundreds of structures, most of them camouflaged, were detected in Viet Cong base areas, and with the detailed familiarity of the crews with the local areas and activities it was easier to identify insurgents amongst the populace.

As the Vietnam war progressed, a number of aviation companies were sent to Vietnam to fly three variants of Mohawk, the OV-1A, 8 and C. The OV-1A was fitted with a belly camera capable of vertical or oblique coverage and obtained aerial views of small targets such as fortifications, road junctions and hamlets - the kind of detail needed by ground commanders. They were also armed with machine guns, officially for self-defence. Later, 2.75-inch smoke and high-explosive rockets would also be carried, much to the annoyance of the Air Force who considered armed aircraft to be their ballpark and objected to others playing in it.

The OV-1B carried side-looking airborne radar. The antenna was housed in a long pod beneath the forward part of the fuselage. This model could fly over South Vietnam, but still carry out stand-off night-time surveillance of waterways and roads in Cambodia or Southern Laos. The SLAR equipment could scan either or both sides of the aircraft and fashion a near-real-time radar map that could be reproduced photographically and studied while the aircraft was in flight.

The OV-1C was different from the A and B models and carried infra-red detection equipment and a forward-aimed panoramic camera, as well as the same belly camera used in the A models. As the enemy relied heavily on the cover of darkness to move men and supplies around the countryside, this model was particularly useful. Eventually a D model would be produced, allowing either SLAR or IR gear to be installed in a single airframe.

Both the B and C models had huge 150-gallon fuel tanks under each wing. Furthermore, the B model had a large cigar-shaped radar pod slung under the fuselage. Its protrusion forward of the nose of the aircraft provided the illusion that the B model was a male Mohawk.


OV-1A Mohawk



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