WWII U.S. Army Air Force squadron logos were placed on letterheads or painted on aircraft, but most frequently they were made into patches worn on uniforms. A number of the logos were designed by the Disney Studios, but others were designed by artists who happened to be serving within the various units. They were designed yet, in a way, un-designed.
In World War I, Walt Disney was an ambulance driver. That’s when the budding illustrator saw a form of art on the cowls of trucks and sides of airplanes. Disney understood that these images boosted morale among the troops, and it was an experience Disney kept in the back of his mind after he returned to the United States in 1918. In 1939, the U.S. Navy asked Disney to conceive a mascot for a new ship. Disney came up with a bumble bee in a sailor’s hat, wearing boxing gloves. Disney was soon swamped with requests from units asking for their own identities.
Comic and cartoon mascots and other symbolic emblems were everywhere. The examples below are among the those that were sanctioned, worn in addition to the more traditional division badges and patches. These come from a 1943 Army Officers Manual.—Steven Heller