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Tamiya's 1/48 scale P-51B
"Goodbye Mickey Mouse"

by Jonathan Strickland


North American P-51B Mustang


Tamiya's 1/48 scale P-51B Mustang is available online from Squadron.com




Len Deighton is among my favorite novelists. That being said, “Goodbye, Mickey Mouse” is probably my least favorite of his books that I have read. It is still a delightful read and has some well researched descriptions of Mustangs and aerial combat in World War II mixed with angst, relationships, sex, and all that other stuff that is supposed to “sell” a novel. When I recently read “Goodbye, Mickey Mouse” for the second time, I knew I had a good idea for a model.


As the story goes, the 199th Squadron of the 220th Fighter Group of (one can only assume) the 8th Air Force welcomes a new pilot (Capt. Fairbrother). He is placed into blue flight under the command of Lt. Mickey Morse. Although the jacket of each printing I have seen claims the setting to be “the winter of 1944-45” the story actually takes place a year earlier, and the 199th has just finished transitioning from the P-47 Thunderbolt to the P-51 Mustang. Morse’s “Mickey Mouse II” is described well in the book, and since he is the hero of the story, I chose to model his plane.

I decided to approach this project from two angles. First, what if this was a true story? How would “Mickey Mouse II” have looked were it an actual P-51B from WW II? And second, what if Hollywood decided to make a movie from the novel? How would “Mickey Mouse II” have to look in order to get it right?



Creating Mickey Mouse II


Since the time frame is late 1943 – early 1944 one can instantly determine what scheme “MM2” would have carried – Olive Drab over Neutral Gray with all of the required white ID stripes and a white nose band and spinner to boot (the overspray on the prop blades is intentional, btw). The colorful rudders and noses did not enter the scene until the Spring of 1944, so it would be too early for checkerboard noses and bright blue tails at this point. This was to my advantage since if it were later in the war I would have to make up interesting squadron colors and patterns, and (quite frankly) all the good ones were used by the real fighter squadrons from WW II.


Here are some of the mentions of MM2:

“The aircraft smelled new with it’s mixture of leather, paint, and high octane fuel. On it’s nose a brightly painted Mickey Mouse danced, and stenciled in yellow, under the cockpit, was the name of it’s regular pilot: Lt. M. Morse.”

“… he closed the side panel.” (shucks, no Malcolm hood)

“MM’s Mickey Mouse II … featured the carton rodent toting six guns and a ten-gallon hat.”

"Madigan had a can of paint and a brush ready so that they could get shots of the crew chief painting another swastika on the nose of his plane.”

Where was I going to find the furry animated icon dressed up as a cowboy? A simple Google search supplied the answer. As it turns out, ole Micky starred in a short called “Two Gun Mickey” back in 1935. I was able to find several pieces of art on the net related to “Two Gun Mickey”, including a movie poster. This proved to be a valuable find as the font used for the title happens to be the exact font used on Maj. George Preddy’s last P-51D (“Cripes’A’Mighty). I quickly gathered some material and rushed it off to a well known decal maker who has since stopped taking custom orders (nudge nudge) and he made the decals you see in the pictures.



I actually had a mishap with one of the “Mickey Mouse II”s but was saved instantly by the extra one already provided on the sheet. I put a “Mickey Mouse II” on the right side of the nose as well, in case we had to use the starboard side for any shots in the “movie”. The kills and the name under the cockpit were easy enough (although, in hindsight, simple white swastikas may have looked better).

But what about the codes? A plane with the name “Mickey Mouse II” and a pilot who’s name was Mickey Morse simply had to have the individual letter “M”. And since the 199th Sqdn is ficticious, I decided to give “MM2” ficticious squadron codes as well. I searched a data base of WW II USAAF squadrons on the web and was able to determine that the codes ‘TZ” were not used by any US squadron in WW II. The serial number is arbitrary but is likely the serial number of an actual P-51B. National insignia came from spare decal sheets.





As for the build I do what I normally do, OOB except for seat and exhausts from Ultracast. I did modify the wings to reflect a WW II P-51B-1. First, I removed the colored lights from the lower left wing. I also filled and then sanded most of the panel lines in the wings. P-51s had this done in WW II and then the wings were painted silver (this includes the Duraluminum or “Natural Metal” Mustangs).


This proved to be an enjoyable project and I intend to build more “planes from novels” in the future, all the time trying to keep it real.



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Strickland
Page Created 11 December, 2005
Last Updated 11 December, 2005

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