By Robert L. Schwartz Y2c

BURBANK, CALIF.—Seabees at Camp Hueneme, Calif., recently wrote to Hank Porter of the Walt Disney Studios asking for a sketch of a Seabee pin-up girl. They wanted a “deliciously feminine queen bee, with rosebud lips, dewy bedroom eyes and an atomizer to make her deadlier than the male,” who carries only a Tommy gun. Porter promptly produced the portrait of Phoebe the Female Seabee, as pictured above.

Porter has produced more than 1,000 designs for the Army and Navy since his first—a mosquito-on-a-torpedo insignia for the PT fleet. Since then requests have come in so thick and fast that he is always 300 designs behind.hank porter disney wwii

His insignia, which have flown with such outfits as the Flying Tigers and the Eagle Squadron, are to be found on trucks, jeeps, tanks, conning towers, ordnance material, flight jackets and mess halls. Most of the emblems embody minor Disney characters, but never “big names” such as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Pluto unless they are requested. The same goes for duck and eagle insignia, of which Porter says there are too many already.

There are dozens of fanciful bugs, birds and beasts in the Disney Technicolored menagerie, but no fish. So Porter has to dream up all the fish needed for submarine emblems. He always caricatures the finster for which the sub is named.

For the USS Sailfish he designed a fish with a huge sail being pulled along by a blowfish; for the USS Rock he did the fighting rock bass reproduced above, complete with boxing gloves.

Porter wishes more requests contained specific suggestions. The more he knows about a unit’s fighting record, or its mascot, the more appropriate he can make his design. The little Indian shown above was drawn for the USS Winooski, a fleet oil tanker, and symbolizes the ship’s name, while the oil drum and pump indicate her job and the two medals on the hatband denote the Winooski’s participation in two campaigns.

Some of his requests are tough nuts to crack, but Porter manages them. For an anticontamination unit he drew a fearless bug with a Red Cross kit spearing a genie-like monster; for the landing signal gang on an aircraft carrier, a many-armed Donald Duck flapping a multitude of flags for the crews of mine sweepers, anything from a mermaid with a broom in a mine field to Pluto biting the cables in two and sweeping the sea with his tail.

Hank Porter has two special jobs he can’t do yet. The first is a huge master mural with all his animal emblems in their appropriate elements of land, sea and air. He doesn’t have time for that yet. The other is an insignia for his 17-year-old son’s outfit in the AAF. That will have to wait until his son gets an outfit; he hasn’t finished basic yet.

For More on Disney During WWII Check Out:

Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to Victory in the War (Disney Editions Deluxe)

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