Disney Dons Dogtags Cover

Disney Don’s Dogtags: The Best of Disney Military Insignia from World War II

By Walton H. Rawls
New York, NY: Abbeville Publishing Group, 1992
ISBN: 1558594019
96 pages
Out of print (hardcover)

From the Author

Swamped in World War II with requests from the military to use the world-famous Disney characters in creating distinctive unit insignia, the Disney Studio had set up a special five-man crew of artists to meet the demand for designs. “They meant a lot to the men who were fighting,” said Walt Disney. “How could you turn them down?” Imaginative, colorful and well executed, these insignia occupy a unique place in Disney history.

Over a five-year period, as a contribution to the war effort, the Studio created some 1,200 insignia, the best of which have been selected for this volume–the first comprehensive survey of this relatively unknown body of Disney art. For the most part, these delightful designs exist today only as fifty-year old color transparencies or black-and-white photos in the Disney archives, the originals having been sent directly to their respective units during the war. Nevertheless, period reproductions of the originals can still be found in wartime Disney comic books, on matchbook covers, poster stamps, and, indeed, the leather and woven patches that were inspired by the are–all of which are now very collectible.

It is a tribute to the success of the Disney animators in giving believable personalities to “drawing that move” that some well-known cartoon figures were suitable for military service while others were not. For instance, Donald Duck appeared in more than two hundred designs–his famous temper fit him for militant postures–while the lovable, bashful Mickey Mouse was rarely called upon to except for home front causes. Where no Disney character quite fit the bill, the studio happily created new ones, as in the case of the well-known symbols for the Flying Tigers, the Mosquito Fleet, and the Seabees.

In addition to being of interest to Disney enthusiast and collectors–image, after all these years, opening a treasure trove of forgotten Disney artwork–this book definitely will appeal to military buffs and veterans, especially during the marking of World War II’s fiftieth anniversary.

Website Review

Disney Dons Dogtags is an excellent resource for USAF patch collectors.  The book provides a basic history of the development of military insignia and then delves into Disney’s role in the development of military  insignia during World War II. It provides details on the design and development of several famous insignia, including the famed American Volunteer Group Flying Tiger. Disney Dons Dogtags is packed with illustrations and identification of several hundred insignia from all the branches of the military, the vast majority of which are in color. Most of the insignia are grouped by character or theme. The book however does not picture all of the insignia that Disney developed.  The book also lacks a comprehensive index, making it difficult to easily find a specific insignia or topic. For the serious collector, this book is a must have for the reference shelf.  — Webmaster

Some of U.S. Army Air Forces insignia pictured in Disney Dons Dogtags include:

  • 12th Combat Camera Unit Detachment (pg 30)
  • 12th Tow Target Squadron (pg 48)
  • 17th Weather Squadron (pg 26)
  • 20th Photo Mapping Squadron (pg 21)
  • 41st Bombardment Squadron (pg 49)
  • 47th Bombardment Squadron (pg 49)
  • 51st Services Squadron (pg 43)
  • 55th School Squadron (pg 15)
  • 60th Air Depot Group (pg 39)
  • 92d School Squadron (pg 47)
  • 345th Bombardment Squadron (pg 49)
  • 438th Fighter Squadron (pg 45)
  • 445th School Squadron (pg 47)
  • 449th Fighter Squadron (pg 42)
  • 452d Bombardment Squadron (pg 14-15, 49)
  • 493d Bombardment Squadron Crew 53 (pg 48)
  • 546th Bombardment Squadron (pg 29)
  • Air Base Detachment Gray Field (pg 31)
  • Aviation Cadet Detachment Class 43-C (pg 44)
  • Gardner Field Cadets (pg 48)