Triple Ace Pilot Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson flew the P-51 Mustang Crow while he was assigned to the 357th Fighter Group “Yoxford Boys,” 8th Air Force. Bud eventually became the top ace of the 363rd Fight Squadron with 16 1/4 victories.
In 2017, Bud was awarded Air Force Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame. In his interview with the American Veterans Center, he gives us the reasons why they managed to beat the Luftwaffe during WWII:
Bud’s first aerial victory was when he managed to take down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 when it was attacking a B-17 over Berlin. His fifth aerial victory was when he managed to shoot down a Bf 109 over Frankfurt, making him an ace.
On June 29, 1944, he shot down three Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. He also scored his final aerial victories on December 5, 1944, by managing to shoot down Fw 190s over Berlin.
Taking Down the Enemy
According to WWII triple ace pilots, they managed to destroy the Luftwaffe by engaging their pilots in aerial combat and killing their most experienced pilots. While the Germans still had plenty of airplanes at their disposal, they didn’t have a good training program.
“They (the Germans) believed that the Luftwaffe would conquer Europe and they wouldn’t need a training program,” Bud said.
Bud said in the European theater, they had pretty similar tactics to the Germans. “The Germans invented the Finger Four. Before that, we were flying around in the three ship formations. So, we kind of copied some of their tactics.”
“The Germans flew in formations in this little three-ship Vs. They would end up making head-on passes through the bombers. As far as dogfighting, they pretty much had the same concepts as we did,” he recalled.
Engaging in Aerial Combat
“We destroyed the Luftwaffe primarily by engaging them in aerial combat,” Bud said. He said that they kept airplanes over the bombers but they also went out to search for big formations.
“Dog fights are like a card game- you gotta deal with the hand that you’re dealt. When you’re in a dog fight they might be attacking you rather than you attacking them.”
Bud’s P-51 Mustang, nicknamed “Old Crow” after a whiskey of the same name, managed to carry him safely throughout all 116 missions during WWII without being hit by the enemy aircraft, or ever having him turn back for any reason.
“You get through a mission, two missions, three missions, five missions. If you got through ten missions, your chance of completing them went up greatly. We lost most guys on their first 10 missions. Then, if you’re successful, that did give you the confidence, and then you’re successful again, confidence is building and then you get aggressive.” Bud recalled.
“I won’t go as far as saying that I enjoyed aerial combat, but I’ll tell you something- it was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life.”