Original U.S. WWII 29th Bomb Squadron A-2 Flight Jacket with Patch Designed by Walt Disney Studios
Original Item: Only One Available. The rabbit featured on the 29th Bombardment Squadron (later designated the 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron) patch is officially described as a “pugnacious hare,” and to find his cinematic origins, you have to reach far back into the Disney canon, to the studio’s Silly Symphonies—revolutionary animated shorts that appeared in theaters in the 1920s and 30s. One of the best known is the Tortoise and the Hare (1934), which tells the familiar story that “slow and steady wins the race.” The rabbit on the patch is definitely Max Hare from the cartoon—but what’s up with the boxing gloves? To figure that one out, look to the 1936 sequel to the Tortoise and the Hare: Toby Tortoise Returns. This time the featured sporting event is a boxing match. The 970th unit patch was designed by a Disney cartoonist in 1942. The artist’s name is Charles Thorson, and you might be familiar with another of his rabbits—he also created Bugs Bunny.
This is a wonderful genuine WW2 issue A-2 leather flight jacket in overall very good condition and extremely desirable due to its provenance and the presence of the ultra rare hand painted squadron patch. The reverse side has a large cotton American flag stitched to the back. There is typical minor cracking to the leather, primarily on the sleeves and the collar edge. The leather remains supple and pliable. The zipper is complete and functional, the cuffs and waist bands appear to be post war replacements.
Collar to Shoulder: 9"
Shoulder to Sleeve: 24"
Shoulder to Shoulder: 16"
Chest width: 19"
Waist width: 17"
Hip width: 17"
When the United States entered World War II, one of the first places the Army invaded was Walt Disney Studios. They rolled in with two goals: to defend a nearby Lockheed factory in case of an attack by the Axis on the West Coast, and to mobilize Disney animators to create instructional videos and artwork for soldiers. Walt, who lied about his age to serve in the First World War (he deployed to France with the Red Cross Ambulance Corps), spearheaded an effort to design—for free—the unit insignia for hundreds of new military units, planes, and tanks. Any request would be honored. The result is a legacy of unit patches featuring cartoon characters with the distinct Disney feel and aesthetic, sometimes even featuring Mickey or Donald themselves. While many of the units were decommissioned in the decades since the war, some endure. Their patches still feature Disney artwork. Here are five unit insignia originally designed by Walt Disney.
29th Bomb Squadron in World War II
Activation and operations in the Eastern Caribbean
The 29th Bombardment Squadron was activated on 1 April 1941, at Borinquen Field, along with the 44th and 45th Bombardment Squadron as one of the original squadrons of the 40th Bombardment Group. The squadron drew its flying cadre from the 25th Bombardment Group and most of its ground personnel from the 24th Air Base Group. It was equipped with Douglas B-18 Bolo aircraft with a mission of defending the eastern approaches to the Panama Canal. It flew training missions in the Eastern Caribbean until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, they began flying antisubmarine patrol missions. In June 1942, the 40th Group and its squadrons departed Puerto Rico for bases in Central America. The 29th Squadron arrived at its new station, Aguadulce Army Air Field, Panama on 16 June 1942.
Reinforcement by Squadron "X"
Late in November 1942, Squadron "X" was organized at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona. Squadron "X" consisted of 320 enlisted men and 55 officers drawn from the 61st Bombardment Squadron, an Operational Training Unit (OTU). The squadron departed Davis-Monthan for Camp Harahan, near New Orleans, Louisiana, sailing on the USAT John L. Clem on 22 March 1943. Twelve days later, the squadron disembarked at Colon, Canal Zone, Squadron "X" proceeded to Aguadulce, where its personnel replaced the personnel of the 29th Squadron, taking over the 29th's equipment and planes. The personnel of the 29th Squadron moved to Guatemala City, where they replaced those of the 74th Bombardment Squadron. The flight crew members of the 29th were sent to (OTU) at Rio Hato Army Air Base, Panama in late February and early March for transition in Consolidated LB-30 Liberators, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, and Consolidated B-24D Liberators.
Deployment to the Galapagos Islands
On 12 May 1943, the squadron, excepting three crews, embarked on the USAT Frederick C. Johnson and headed for the Galapagos Islands. The three crews flew to the "Rock" on 13 May 1943. The USAT Johnson arrived at Seymour Bay, Galapagos Islands on 15 May 1943. The Rock, also called "Beta", was an airfield on Baltra Island. From 16 May until 23 May 1943, the 29th Squadron flew patrols with enlisted crew members from the 45th Bombardment Squadron. Patrols were flown from the Galapagos Islands to Guatemala City and back. The 74th Bombardment Squadron flew alternate routes with the 29th. Simultaneously, the squadron was reassigned to the 6th Bombardment Group, which became the only remaining group of VI Bomber Command.
On 8 July 1943, three crews were sent to Vernam Air Force Base, Jamaica to shadow the USS Yorktown (CV-10) and its escort of three destroyers. Enemy submarine activity in the area prompted this action for the protection of the ships, which were en route to the Canal. The aircraft returned to Guatemala City on 11 July 1943.
From 24 July 1943 until 25 August 1943, VP-206 took over combat patrols initiating from the Galapagos. The 29th resumed patrol duties on 25 August 1943 when the Navy was ordered to the Atlantic side. On the same day, squadron aircraft began rotating to the depot at San Antonio, Texas to update the radar equipment installed in squadron aircraft. All of the squadron aircraft were equipped by 19 January 1944. On 1 November 1943, headquarters of the 6th Bombardment Group, which had been operating as a single headquarters with VI Bomber Command was disbanded, and the squadron was assigned directly to VI Bomber Command.
The first fatal crash involving a 29th Squadron aircraft happened on 15 October 1943. Three B-24s from the 29th were ordered-to the area to search for a missing Consolidated PBY Catalina . One B-24 flew to Cocos Island to survey the island for the missing PBY. During the search this B-24 was not heard from after reporting in at 1500 GCT. Three Navy Martin PBM Mariners and two B-24s searched was the area beginning on 16 October 1943. A life raft was sighted by one of the PBMs and also by a 29th B-24. On 23 October 1943 Lt. W.R. Knight deviated from his patrol to scan Cocos Island which had been "closed in" during the search. On passing over the island, wreckage was sighted, located near the crest of the highest peak on the west side of the island. On 2 November 1943, a ground rescue party reached the site of the crash. The crew of the downed B-24 were posthumously awarded the Soldiers Medal for their actions in searching for the downed PBY.
On 24 November 1943 twelve planes of the squadron were on a mission to make simulated attacks against United States Navy ships. The weather grew worse and they were ordered to David Field. The squadron was then ordered to Rio Hato and were briefed on enemy submarines on the Atlantic side, that had sunk ships that day. Search patterns were laid out to be flown the following day. During the briefing, Lt. Sumnicht stated his crew were on a search of the sinkings and damaged an enemy submarine. They had broken through a cloud layer to discover a surfaced submarine below them. The sub immediately began to dive. Although the plane's bomb bay doors would not open on the first run. The plane circled, and dropped six 650-pound depth charges in front of the wake. Though not claiming to have sunk the U-boat, although it must have suffered damage. For the next few days all tracks of the search area were flown without a sign of the sub or further attacks. On 10 December 1943 the squadron resumed flying from one to four patrol lanes. The "Loop" plan, dating back to July 1943 was flown. The lanes were of a giant rectangular shape, all planes returning to the "Rock". The average patrol covered about 1100 miles and a flight time of 7+1⁄2–8 hours. This patrol system was used until the Navy again took over patrol coverage on 4 February 1944.
During March 1944 the unit helped rescued a disabled seaman from a tanker off the coast of San Cristóbal Island. A crash boat was sent to intercept the tanker and take the sick man aboard. A squadron B-24 to was sent to guide the boat to the tanker. It picked up the tanker on radar, then headed back to the crash boat, directing them to take up a corrected heading for the tanker. We then flew back to the tanker to get it to head towards the crash boat, which took the sick crewman aboard.
On 31 March 1944, Eleanor Roosevelt arrived at the base. She was greeted and selected food from the mess. A group of enlisted members answered all questions asked by Mrs. Roosevelt. The evening of her arrival an informal reception in her honor was held at the Officers Club where she mixed with the officers and civilian workers. The next morning she visited Mess Hall #1, eating from a G.I. mess kit and cup, mixing with the troops.
Move to Howard Field
In April 1944, VI Bomber Command realigned all heavy bombardment squadrons in the command. As a result, the 29th Bombardment Squadron moved from the Galapagos Island to Howard Field in the Panama Canal Zone. Beginning 10 April, the air echelon plus key personnel, were ferried to Howard in B-24's. Approximately 180 enlisted men sailed by boat the same week. By 16 April 1944 the entire squadron had moved to Howard Field.
On 17 April 1944, Maj. Ford stationed at Howard Field, took off with a passenger in a Vultee L-1 Vigilant for Cape Mala to arrange for the payment of personnel at remote sites. Late that afternoon he was not heard from and three B-24s of the 29th searched the area south and west of Cape Mala, but the visibility was near zero and they had no success. The following day, three more B-24s from the squadron searched to the south and east of Cape Mala with negative results. Maj. Ford and his passenger, was rescued by a boat shortly after a forced landing and taken to Nicaragua.
While stationed in the Canal Zone, the squadron participated in a number of mock attacks. On 28 April 1944 all B-24s available from the squadron staged a surprise attack on the locks of the Panama Canal. Flights of two and three planes were assigned various tracks. The last attack, on 7 June 1944, came closer to actual combat conditions. B-24s from the squadrons assembled over Rio Hato, climbed on course to David to an altitude of 20,000 feet. From there all planes, in formation, crossed the Isthmus to the Atlantic side, and through a 90% cloud cover, struck the Gatun Locks and the Madden Dam. The squadron also conducted exercise attacks against Navy forces. On 30 November 1944, three planes from the 29th piloted completed a successful mission against a naval force, which included the USS Nevada (BB-36). On 22 January 1945, the 29th and 3d Bombardment Squadrons engaged in a mission, with the 3d in the lead. Radar of the lead plane was inoperative and a plane from the 29th established visual contact with the USS Shangri-La (CV-38) and the formation completed its bomb run without interception from carrier planes.
On 5 May 1944 the squadron replaced the 20th Troop Carrier Squadron in the transporting freight, mail, and passengers to outlying bases. The schedule ceased on 10 May 1944, began again and continued until 21 May 1944. B-24s from the squadron stopped at the following bases: San Juan, Aruba, Curaçao, Managua, San Jose, Guatemala City, Salinas, Talara, and the Galapagos Islands.
The arrival of submarines in the Caribbean area, and the torpedoing of three ships on 5 July 1944, resulted in the alerting of the 29th Bomb Squadron and antisubmarine patrols flown from France Field. Numerous disappearing radar contacts were encountered, indicating that several submarines were covering the area from 400 to within 100 miles of the Canal. On 11 July 1944, an enemy submarine was sighted by a ship heading for the Canal. Patrols were flown by the Navy around the "Hot Spot" the remainder of the day and throughout the evening. The B-24s continued the search the following day without success. Six B-24s were dispatched to Vernam Field, Jamaica to continue the anti submarine operations. Eight B-24s continued to patrol from Howard Field, four from Curaçao, and two from France Field. These patrols were flown daily until 17 July 1944 when the search was discontinued.
Airfield at Rio Hato Panama
The 29th Bomb Squadron moved from Rio Hato, where it had been stationed since September 1944, back to Howard Field on 8 December 1944, because the runway at Rio Hato had become unserviceable. The remainder of the month was devoted to training, both flying and ground classes. On 1 and 2 January 1945, the squadron went on Practice Full Alert. Panamanian newspapers and news magazines from the U.S. indicated the alert was occasioned by unsettled Panamanian political conditions. On 27 January 1945, the squadron returned from Howard Field to Rio Hato, whose runway had been sufficiently repaired for use, although construction continued.
On 23 February 1945, squadron was placed on a red alert, indicating danger of air and ground attack. It was learned the following morning that the alert was called because of political activity in Panama. The alert was canceled at 1200 hours on 24 February 1945. On 6 March 1945, the squadron participated in a "Search Light Mission" over the Canal Zone with seven aircraft.
Return to the Galapagos
In April 1945, the squadron was ordered to return to the Galapagos Islands. On 26 April, an advance party departed from Rio Hato. 49 officers and 94 enlisted men who left Rio Hato in 12 B-24Js and B-24Ls and arrived at Seymour Island on 30 April 1945. Five officers and 156 enlisted men left Balboa by ship to Seymour Island arriving at the island on 3 May 1945.
On 21 May 1945, a B-24 was reported missing. The aircraft had taken off on a local training flight. The plane was last seen by another squadron plane in the area of San Cristóbal Island. The squadron requested base operations to attempt to get a radar fix on the missing plane if possible and the Navy ground radio station was requested to monitor the emergency frequency. Five squadron planes were sent out to search all islands in the Galapagos area except Culpepper and Wenmon. Three of the planes circled San Cristobal Island. A Curtiss C-46 Commando arriving from the Canal Zone to assisted in the search which ended at dusk. On 22 May 1945, the search continued from dawn to dusk. B-24s, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain and navy aircraft all were involved in the search. On 23 May 1945, the search was resumed at dawn. A North American O-47 examined San Cristobal Island. Oxygen bottles and one survivor were sighted at Bahia Rosa Blanca. A C-47 dropped supplies and equipment and found another survivor about 1/4-mile from the first.
A Navy crash boat departed the base. The second survivor appeared to be badly injured so the crash boat was directed to him. His injuries were serious so a Navy PBM Mariner was requested to come to the scene to evacuate him. On 24 May 1945, a ground party continued the search. After further search with no positive results, the search was terminated on 25 May 1945.
Drawdown and inactivation
On 11 July, the last three B-24s to be assigned to the squadron arrived at the base. These were B-24M models, painted black underneath and were in the very last group of B-24s made. These planes were produced by the Ford Motor Company.
On 18 August 1945 the squadron received telegram concerning a missing B-17 in the Salinas, Ecuador area. The squadron was asked to send aircraft for search. The B-17 was found by Ecuadorians where it had crashed into a mountain.
On 27 September 1945 the squadron was advised that it will move to Rio Hato within a few weeks. The air echelon was to move out on 2 October and ground echelon will remain to aid in preparing equipment for shipment to depots. On 30 September 1945 most men received discharge orders and the squadron ceased functioning as an operating unit. The air portion of the squadron began to move out on 2 October 1945 to Rio Hato so the above was the last Official History written at the Galapagos Islands. The 29th converted from B-24s to B-17s. The pilots who flew them down flew the 29th's B-24s back to the States. Instead most of the crews returned on the Liberty ship, S.S. General Blanchard (possibly the USS General H. B. Freeman (AP-143) and the 29th was inactivated on 1 November 1946.
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