In 1957, the U.S. Army identified a requirement for a light but rugged front-line observation aircraft that could operate from rough airstrips and had short take-off and landing (STOL) capability. Grumman's proposal was accepted, and development of the YAO-1A began.
The aircraft's first flight was 14 April 1959. It was a mid-wing monoplane powered by two turboprop engines, with a tail featuring three vertical stabilizers. The pilot and observer sat in a side-by-side cockpit with bulged side windows, providing excellent downward visibility.
Three production versions were ordered: the AO-1A, exclusively for day-time and night-time reconnaissance; the AO-1 B, with a Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) pod slung under the right side of the fuselage; and the AO-1 C, designed for infra-red reconnaissance. These designations were later changed to OV-1A, OV-1B and OV-1C, respectively. An OV-1 0 version was developed later, which combined the capabilities of the OV-1 Band OV-1 C.
More than 375 OV-1s were built over a period of almost 10 years. They were used extensively in the Vietnam War. The aircraft was not designed to carry armament, but many were modified in the field to carry rockets, mortars, rotating-barrel machine guns and small missiles, in addition to iron bombs.
Manufactured in Bethpage, New York as Model AO1-AF and delivered in January 1960, the Museum’s OV-1A is the second production Mohawk off the Grumman assembly line. Its exact military history is undetermined. Aircraft from that initial production batch were first sent to Fort Rucker, Alabama. Some of these were later deployed to West Germany, others to the Republic of South Vietnam. In both locations they served a reconnaissance role for the U.S. Army. Following its military service (circa 1973), this aircraft was used in wing-icing research. It had several owners before the Museum acquired it in 2006. It is currently under restoration to fly.