This collectable model P-51D Mustang represents the ultimate in long-range fighter development in World War II, the aircraft that was finally able to escort bombers from bases in England to targets deep in Germany. Painted as “Old Crow” as flown by Col. Bud Anderson and its present owner, Jim Hagedorn, this 1/24-scale model P-51D Mustang makes a great pilot gift, or a present for any veteran, aviation enthusiast or history buff.
This iconic American aircraft of World War II, which also served in combat in Korea, actually began as a British aircraft. Designed and flown in just 178 days in response to a British proposal for a fighter-bomber. British officials wanted North American Aviation to build the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk under license, but NAA President James “Dutch” Kindelburger persuaded them that his company could build a new, better design in less time.
The NA-73 project featured two innovations: an efficient laminar-flow wing developed by the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics, and a radiator design that used exiting hot air to provide a modicum of additional thrust. The XP-51 showed good performance at low altitudes, and the British government placed orders for several hundred of the fighters. In 1942, the Army Air Forces placed an order for 320 P-51As, as well as orders for a dive bomber variant, the A-36.
Also in 1942, the Mustang received the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine – and the results were magic. High altitude performance exceeded expectations, with the Merlin-powered Mustang topping 440 mph in tests.
The Mustang was taking off – and with the addition of long-range tanks, the P-51 proved to be the answer to the Army Air Force’s need for a fighter with the range to accompany bombers all the way to their targets deep in Germany.
The definitive version of the Mustang, the P-51D, featured a bubble canopy, six .50-caliber machine guns, and a range of 1,650 miles. Top speed was 437 mph.
“Old Crow,” in silver, owns its polished appearance to Col. Bud Anderson, a top fighter pilot with the famed 357th Fighter Group. In 1944, Anderson was flying a mission when he saw a number of Mustangs below him. The dark green Mustangs – like the one he was flying – stood out clearly against the snow. The silver Mustangs were harder to see – a valuable thing to know in combat. Anderson suggested that “Old Crow” be refinished in silver the next time it was down for maintenance – and the next day, Anderson found a gleaming silver “Old Crow.” Anderson went on to shoot down 16 ¼ enemy aircraft in World War II, and went on to fly combat in Vietnam.
“Old Crow,” a P-51D owned by Jim Hagedorn, is a familiar sight at air shows around the country, the snarl of the Merlin reminding crowds of Anderson and the other men and women who served in World War II.