|1/48 OV-1B Mohawk|
|Kit Number: 410|
|Reviewed by Darrin Van Deman, IPMS# 44482|
Upon opening the box, I was greeted by a relatively small number of sprues, molded in light grey and clear, each showing great detail in their respective parts with just a bit of flash on some pieces. There are a few parts where parting seams are somewhat abundant, and careful cleaning of each piece is essential in order to prevent marring of the finer details. There are also many spare accessories in the kit included from their previous boxing of the OV-1A, including missile and gun pods not used on this variant. It is quite a full box for the price.
The decal sheet contains options for three aircraft, two from Vietnam era squadrons, and one from the Department of the Interior Geological Survey team. I was also pleasantly surprised to find the sheet has a full compliment of stencil data markings for the airframe in both military and civilian colors, as appropriate. Although the register of many of the data stencils seemed a bit fuzzy at times, they looked right at home on the finished aircraft.
As with nearly all aircraft kits, construction begins at the main focus of the aircraft, the cockpit. Although lacking in several areas of detail, the instrument panels and associated gear is quite well detailed, and even the center throttle control assemble is comprised of four pieces. The ejection seats, in particular, are a small work of art, and separate kits in their own right. Each seat is constructed from nine intricately detailed pieces of plastic. I have seen aftermarket counterparts with less detail than these seats contain. Other areas of the cockpit were completely opposite, however, with no detail on the rear cockpit wall or flooring. To correct this, Cobra and True Details have both released a very nice detail set for the Mohawk in resin, as well as Eduard releasing several different sets of PE for the kit. Most of these parts would be unneeded in my opinion, and I was happy to live with the lack of detail. Most of these areas will be covered after the cockpit is fully assembled, anyway. The front instrument panel was also a bit vexing, as the instructions called for the newer, up-to-date IP, where the decal containing the instrument cluster faces did not conform to the molded dial facings. I was forced to either use the older IP, or replace the decal from photos. I chose the easier path, and used the older style panel.
Also of concern was the complete lack of any harness for the seats, decal or otherwise. I chose to replicate these, as best I could, from thin strips of lead foil. The effect, although not exceptionally accurate, is still a marked improvement and adds a great deal to the aesthetics of the cockpit.
While dry-fitting the cockpit to the fuselage, I discovered that the cockpit canopy top would not seat correctly over the ejection seats and overhead console.
A bit of trimming and refit of the ejection seats and console ensued, and after some minor cleanup around the cockpit opening, all went together fairly painlessly with a touch of Tenax.
One area of note is that in the instructions, it calls for 19g of counterweight to be placed into the separate nose dome on the front of the plane. Why would this be a problem? The area in question is no bigger than the tip of my thumb! Therefore, weighting the nose became a quest for available space. I ended up placing weight in the prescribed nose dome, behind the rear cockpit bulkhead, between the forward landing gear well and the fuselage walls, and even in the SLIR pod to correct the weight issues. It may seem drastic to add this much weight, but it really is needed to prevent your Mohawk from becoming a real tail-sitter. Even with so much added ballast, mine tends to rock a bit if not on a completely level surface.
Other parts of the construction went fairly similarly, with the most difficult problems pertaining to the forward engine cowlings. The parts were of the wrong dimensions for the wings, being a few mm too large. After careful sanding and a bit of re-scribing of lost detail, even this is hardly noticeable. Another area of concern is the extremely complex assembly of the landing struts and associated components. After studying the drawings and assembly instructions for what seemed like hours, I was still a bit baffled during the actual assembly. Dry fitting and extreme care is CRITICAL at this point. When assembled correctly, the struts look quite convincing, if not a bit delicate. I had to re-glue them several times during construction due to minor mishaps, and the delicate nature of some of the parts even required some reconstruction and repair with plastic sheeting and brass rod. Amazingly, the finished structure holds the plane up with little to no strain.
After a black primer coat and light sanding, the entire model was sprayed overall with Model Master OD Green. The deicer stripping on the leading wing edges and other various areas were then masked and sprayed with flat black, following with a gloss topcoat sprayed over the aircraft.
The decals went down without any issues, with just a drop of Micro-Sol required for more complex decals around the top of the fuselage and engine nacelles. After curing, a quick dull coat sealed everything in nicely.
As I prepared to finish off the build, disaster struck. While waiting for the paint to cure on the cockpit doors, my frisky feline companion, in a fit of playfulness, made it a point to "demonstrate" what happens to clear styrene when subjected to paint thinner. Suffice it to say, it is not a pleasant picture.
In desperation, I sent an email to Roden's Customer Service Department, explaining the situation. To my delighted surprise, a replacement set of parts was airmailed to me, free of charge. I cannot say enough about the courtesy and promptness of their company. They are an example of what good Customer Service should be in the industry, and my extreme gratitude goes out to them.
With replacements parts in hand, the build was completed without further incident.
Without a doubt, this build has been a great experience. I have always been a fan of obscure aircraft, but that usually meant limited run kits of questionable quality and detail, not to mention the price tag associated with it. The quality of Roden's products, combined with their aforementioned Customer Service, has won me over to their line. Roden has released a truly unique looking airframe, and done it with great detail and affordability.
This kit is highly recommended for more experienced modelers, mainly due to the delicate and complex nature of some assemblies, as well as a few small fit issues.
Special thanks to Roden and IPMS for the review sample.
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