Light Attack and Multi-Sensor Observation Aircraft
Era: Jet Age
Part of the Air Zoo Collection
Located outside on the path
Grumman built the OV-1 Mohawk with an emphasis on sensory and observation. The U.S. Army sent the first Mohawk flying in April 1959. A two-seat, light attack and multi-sensor aircraft, the OV-1 aided in detection, location, classification, and tracking of moving targets. Its bulged cockpit pair with a snub nose allowed for excellent visibility while its triple-finned tail and wing-top-mounted engines enhanced its maneuverability.
Designers equipped the D model with side loading doors. This made it possible for the aircraft to receive a pallet with side-looking airborne radar (SLAR), IR, as well as other types of sensors. The aircraft remained in production between 1959 and 1970 resulting in 380 produced. The U.S. Army deployed the OV-1 during the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and during Operation Desert Storm (190-1991). In addition to the U.S. Army, operators included Argentine Army Aviation and the Israeli Air Force.
Early Mohawks flew with the U.S. Army stationed in Germany. The Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) produced a film image of the area scanned within a few minutes. The radar penetrated map terrain as well as foliage. Once the image came through, it showed battlefield-related fixed terrain components and any moving targets observed. The SLAR-equipped versions flew observation missions over the Korean Demilitarized Zone in 1963, and later served observation roles in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.
OV-1D Mohawk Modification Program Terminated
As a cost savings measure, the U.S. Army chose to terminate the OV-1D Mohawk modification program in 1990. They based this decision partly on the production of the U.S. Air Force Joint STARS (JSTARS) system. The Army could no longer justify increasing OV-1D capability given the financial resources required to develop and produce JSTARS, which would provide internationally deployed forces with moving target surveillance support. Termination of the Mohawk modification program slowed the maintenance of older OV-1D aircraft. Consequently, when they could not comply with mission requirements, some OV-1Ss moved into retirement. Ultimately, as the JSTARS filled the Army’s MTI mission requirements, the OV-1 fleet retired between 1992-1997.
Air Show Tragedy
Sadly, on November 1, 2019, an OV-1D Mohawk crashed at an airshow. While performing at the Stuart Air Show at Witham Field, Florida, OV-1D military serial number 68-15958 met a tragic end when a crash destroyed the aircraft and took the life of the pilot.
Grumman manufactured OV-1D Mohawk, tail #N121AZ and military serial number 68-16993 US, in or around 1968—the same year that the U.S. Army took the aircraft on Strength/Charge. By 1986, the OV-1D became a part of the “Flying Eye Battalion” through its transfer to the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion, Wiesbaden, FRG, where it aided in the acquisition of aerial signals information. A decade later, the aircraft could be seen on display at the Dayton International Air and Trade Show. By 1996, the OV-1D received its airworthiness certificate and became a part of the Air Zoo’s aircraft collection. For some time beginning in 2012, it had a connection with Transupport, Inc. in Merrimack, NH. Today, the observation aircraft rests on the walking path beside the Viking as a part of our outdoor airplane collection.