Roden 1/48 OV-1C Mohawk

By Aleksandar Sekularac

Definition and Nomenclature

Mohawk is a hairstyle associated with the Punk movement of the early 80's, which consists of shaving both sides of ones head, leaving a strip of noticeably longer hair along the middle. One can find these things in Wikipedia.

Mohawk is also a small, twin-turboprop aircraft made in U.S.A. used mostly for visual, photographic and electronic surveillance and target spotting in areas of conflict – here I refer to warfare, not soccer matches. We will focus here forth on this latter definition of the word.

Grumman OV-1 is a designation for some 380 airframes built over the 13 years of production, beginning in 1959. There were many variations introduced over its lifespan, due to changing requirements and politics. Without pretending to be an expert on the subject I will just give a short overview of the Mohawk’s genesis:

  • OV-1A: day/night photographic reconnaissance; JOV-1 armed reconnaissance

  • OV-1B: side-looking airborne radar (SLAR)

  • OV-1C: infrared (IR) reconnaissance

  • OV-1D: multi-mission, rapid configuration

Apart from its prime customer, the U.S. Army, OV-1 was operated by Germany, Israel and Argentina - where it is still in use.

This little plane has a peculiar appearance that appeals to some and disgusts others. Call me kinky, but I like it. With its dragonfly physique, high engines and triple tail it is hardly going to be mistaken for something else. There are points on my board for individuality and OV-1 score is high.

The Kit

The box top is quite stirring, with a dramatic wide angle illustration of a shark-mouthed OV-1C with ambitions to impress in a sweeping pass. Slightly perturbed Charles Bronson looks up, alas neglecting the fact that a huge ZIL truck is about to run him over.

In the accompanying pictures you can see most of what comes in the box. Some parts are missing from the trees – sorry, I am a modeler not a collector – but those are shown in a group image later on. The main parts seem to go together with ease. Overall dimensions agree with the published numbers for this aircraft. The model feels at home in 1/48 scale; big enough for detailing work, yet not too bulky for handling.

When reviewing a new kit, the focus usually settles on quality of parts and their exact agreement to the set of drawings that one assumes for manifestation of correctness. Important factors without a doubt, but they fail to include the main reason why someone should buy the kit: the subject. No matter how perfect the plastic is, it cannot supplement the interest in what it represents. On the other hand, if I one is very keen to build a model of some subject, one is also willing to compromise a bit on the number of its rivets. So there should be always a factor putting in balance kits quality and finesse with its uniqueness. In this respect, Roden seems to be continuously playing very near this fragile equilibrium: their kits are mostly singular subjects, and as such also decent kits. The Mohawk is no different. With Roden one is never really certain how to define it. OV-1C is surely not a “short-run”, even in the revised, “high-expectation” lingo of today. This is already a fourth member in the 1/48 Mohawk lineage, so in this respect Roden acts pretty much like Hasegawa: carefully staggered release of as many versions as possible to maximize return. There is also a fact that gentlemen from Eduard already offer a tidal wave of photo-etched goodies for this family of kits, and they don’t usually do that for something that is cottage industry. On the other hand, one cannot expect to find Tamiya-like fit, surface finish and detail finesse in the Roden box. Don’t wait for this one to assemble itself. Sandpaper, putty, and patience shall be your companions on this journey, with gratifying results if the old-school of building is obeyed. This is what modeling is all about, right?

Most surfaces will have to be fine-sanded to bring them to the desired smoothness. Some assemblies will require extra care. Cockpit canopy has a complex shape and from the ones who have already built this bird comes a caution to carefully dry-fit its elements, as well as the central ceiling console that should snugly fit under the canopy. While on this subject, let me say that the transparent parts are well rendered. They are sufficiently thin and reasonably clear. Some corners will still benefit from polishing with micromesh. If you plan to display the cockpit doors open, check your references carefully. Upper rim is NOT the hinge line. Actually, the upper edge of the side panel slides under the lip of the top canopy, as it opens. This is not mentioned in the instructions.

Cockpit is sufficiently detailed. Roden includes transparent instrument panel with the clever, reverse-printed decal for the instruments – the face is on the adhesive side of this decal, so it should be applied under the control panel, with instruments showing through the glass. Seats are well-detailed multi-element assemblies, but lack the harness. There is even a separate fire extinguisher to go on the aft bulkhead. And for those masochists who have to complicate things while paying more, there’s a plethora of aftermarket sets to pimp-up the office too. I ordered my “Big Ed” of course, whereas for resin-lovers there are several sets by the Cobra Company.

Adequate level of detail continues throughout: landing gear, engines and under-wing pylons. Only the front wheel bay looks far too bare for my taste. This was an engineering compromise, as it is cast in one piece with the cockpit floor.

The propeller blades are separate and the hub is made in two parts: cone and back-disk. Here comes another assembly tip not mentioned in the instructions: unless someone plans to create an action scene with this model, the propellers need to be feathered, as this was the default state for Mohawk at rest, to prevent wind-milling.

Decals are glossy and well printed with plentiful stencil markings. One can chose between three different aircraft, alas all of them in the monochrome olive-drab overalls; appropriate for taking cover in the shrubs of south-east Asia, but not supreme for standing out on the contest table…

Conclusion

I’m glad to say that this is another fine and unique kit from Roden. Despite the small quibbles I find it very credible and well contained.

As long as the high street of kit industry continues with the self-indulging extravaganza of Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs, there will be enough room for others to play in an infinitely more interesting field of less-advertised aviation.

Bravo Roden! I will no doubt enjoy building, as opposed to assembling, this one. Please bring us more of these nice twin-props. How about the unjustly forgotten IA-58 “Pucara” in the same scale?

Thanks to Roden for the review sample.

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