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EAA Airventure Mustang pays tribute to Bud Anderson’s “Old Crow” P-51D fighters

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Ford and Roush Performance built this custom Mustang GT, inspired by U.S. Army Air Force Col. Bud Anderson, a World War II triple ace pilot, and the P-51 Mustang fighter planes he flew in combat nicknamed “Old Crow.” Photos courtesy Ford Motor Company.

Clarence Emil “Bud” Anderson took his first ride in a Stearman biplane at age seven, and immediately fell in love with flying. A licensed pilot at age 19, Anderson served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII, flying 116 combat missions and earning triple ace status with over 16 victories to his credit. His P-51D Mustang fighters, all nicknamed “Old Crow” after the whiskey of the same name, serves as the inspiration for this year’s Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Airventure charity auction Ford Mustang, tuned by Roush Performance.

Anderson joined the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the 357th Fighter Group, based out of Leiston, England, in November of 1943. During his 116 heavy bomber escort missions, which stretched to January 1945, he was never hit by enemy fire and never had to turn back from an engagement. In 1944, at the age of 22, Anderson was promoted to the rank of major, and by the end of his time in the European theater, was the highest-scoring ace in his squadron.

His Air Force career ultimately spanned three decades, and included stints as a fighter test pilot, a squadron commander and a wing commander before his 1972 retirement at the rank of colonel. Over the course of his service, Anderson earned 26 decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross (with four oak leaf clusters), the Bronze Star, and the Air Medal (with three silver leaf clusters). Following his time in the military, the aviator spent 12 years at McDonnell Douglas, working in flight test management. For his achievements, Anderson has been inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

He’s also a friend of Jack Roush Sr., who has restored two P51 Mustang fighters in Anderson’s “Old Crow” livery. For this year’s EAA Airventure build, Ford provided the 2019 Mustang GT, while Jack’s company, Roush Performance, provided many of the performance parts and tuning expertise, along with much of the customization. Per Roush,

It is truly special to have the opportunity to honor a great American hero and a truly great friend of mine such as Col. Bud Anderson. My father instilled in me a love of aviation and a deep respect for the brave pilots and airmen of World War II. Building this incredible ‘Old Crow’ Mustang, especially to support the next generation of
America’s pilots, has been a very rewarding opportunity and one that we’re proud to share with the world.

The most obvious modification to the Mustang GT is its livery, inspired by the paint and markings of Anderson’s various P51s, which featured an olive drab hood, a yellow and red propeller spinner (plus a yellow and red checkerboard pattern behind the spinner), and a red rudder on the vertical stabilizer. The contrasting stripes on the car’s rocker panels match those on the fighters, and both the B6 S designation and roundel (star with bar) are correct to the planes as well.

As with the P51 fighter, it’s what’s beneath the hood that really counts. The P-51D Mustang received a Packard “Merlin” engine, built under license from Rolls-Royce and–thanks in part to a two-stage, two-speed supercharger—was rated at 1,315 horsepower. A stock 2019 Ford Mustang GT makes 460 hp, but courtesy of a Roush TVS R2650 supercharger, Roush cold air intake and X-pipe, and Ford Performance exhaust, the “Old Crow” Ford Mustang makes 710 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque. Ensuring that this translates to acceleration and not just tire smoke, the tribute rides on 20-inch Roush wheels, shod with 275/35R Continental ExtremeContact tires.

Outside, the Mustang (automobile) features Roush rear fascia airfoils, a Ford Performance front spoiler, a 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 rear spoiler, hood heat extractors, and blue-tinted exhaust tips to emulate the exhaust of a P51 Mustang. Inside, the cabin receives a green canvas and tan leather military theme, with Sparco four-point harnesses upping the safety factor and a rear-seat delete saving a few pounds for added performance.

The “Old Crow” Mustang will be shown at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which runs July 22-28, and will be auctioned at The Gathering on July 25. Proceeds from the sale will go to benefit the EAA’s aviation programs, which now include both youth and adult participants. Last year’s donated Mustang, built in conjunction with Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s RTR Vehicles, sported a color scheme that honored the Eagle Squadrons, three Royal Air Force squadrons that were staffed by American volunteer pilots in the early days of World War II. It sold for $420,000, short of the $500,000 record set by the Mustang AV8R build in 2008.

Bidders need not be present at The Gathering auction. For more information, contact