How Disney Won the War


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During the Second World War, Walt Disney Studios designed over 1,200 insignias for military units — the 503rd Parachute Battalion, the 74th Field Artillery Battalion, the U.S.S. Hornet, etc. — as a way of showing support for fighting troops. The historical record for these designs has been scant, but the Disney-focused blog 2719 Hyperion has unearthed this incomplete catalog of many of them. They’re uniformly fantastic.

Interesting to note, though not reflected in what 2719 Hyperion was able to dig up, is the fact that Donald Duck was the most popular character, having appeared in over two hundred designs. I guess no one wanted to be the Mickey Mouse battalion. See all forty of the found designs here.

  1. My wife’s grandfather was Hank Porter, who directed a group of five artists to produce these insignia designs. A few years back, his son, my father-in-law, decided to bring out some old drawings and tissues he had stowed away in the attic. For hours we looked at awe inspiring original art work, from initial drawings of Snow White to sketches of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other characters. Among them were a couple of these insignias. They are indeed rare and my father-in-law has send them to a guy who is currently writing a book about Hank Porter and a couple of other artists from that time. This guy (the name escapes us at the moment) feels that Hank did not get enough recognition at Disney for what he created.

    My father-in-law became a commercial artist and worked in the advertising business in New York for over 40 years drawing storyboards, ads and just about anything else. Talk about having been there during the “Mad Men” time. He is/was also a very talented photographer. My brother-in-law is a fine arts painter. On his website he mentions his grand father. My wife is a designer and sculptor. This thing with the art gene is definitely true. Can be intimidating at times to be surrounded by a family of talents, but, seriously, I feel fortunate.

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