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Location: /Squadron Patches/WW2 Squadron Unknown

WWII Patch, Unknown unit - AAF Air Warning Service (AWS) Mickey Mouse

WWII Patch, Unknown unit - AAF Air Warning Service (AWS) Mickey Mouse

Product Information

UNKNOWN WWII US Squadron Patch

What we do know:
  • Walt Disney Design - Mickey Mouse in Air Raid Warden type role, Spyglass telescope, helmet, uniform, AWS armband, telephone
  • Walt Disney said Mickey Mouse was a "Do Good'er" not a fighter, so...
  • Walt very, very rarely allowed Mickey to be used on Military projects, patch insignia especially!
  • US Army Air Force (AAF) Aircraft Warning Service ( AWS ) Observer Group
  • AWS = individuals stationed on roof tops and various other strategic locations to warn of incoming enemy aircraft.
  • 5 3/8 inches
What we do not know:
  • Unit # ?
  • Location? East or West Coast command
Do you know the answers?  Any information appreciated.
The Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) was a civilian service of the United States Army Ground Observer Corps.

The heavy bomber of World War II was capable of ranging far from its home base and carrying a lethal load of high explosives. It soon became clear that a warning system was needed to protect against this new threat. Technology at the outset of WWII consisted of mechanical sound detectors that were found to be inadequate to the job. It was also argued that while soldier lookouts would be valuable, their use would detract from other needed military operations. The answer was found in calling on civilian volunteers to act as airplane spotters. With the help of the American Legion, volunteers were organized in May 1941 into the Aircraft Warning Service, the civilian arm of the Army’s Ground Observer Corps. On the east coast, the AWS was under the auspices of the Army Air Force’s 1st Interceptor Command (later First Fighter Command or I Fighter Command) based in Mitchell Field, NY. On the west coast, the AWS was under the auspicies of the 4th Interceptor Command (Later Fourth Fighter Command or IV Fighter Command) based in Riverside, California. On both coasts, observation posts, information centers and filter centers were established. All observers received extensive training in aircraft recognition. This training was so successful that it spilled over into the non-AWS population. Aircraft recognition became a significant hobby providing many with thousands of hours of entertainment and spawning many books and publications, including flash cards, on the subject. Many participated in contests and recognition “Bees.” Recognition clubs and meeting flourished becoming a major social phenomenon of the day. Of significant note to the training effort was the use of black, hard rubber, spotter models for various aircraft.

As the war escalated, thousands of observation posts were established on the east coast from the top of Maine to the tip of Florida, and roughly inland as far as the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. On the west coast, posts ranged from upper Oregon to lower California. Each post had its own code name and number. When aircraft were spotted, the volunteers would record their observations on forms or in log books and then quickly place a call to a regional Army Filter Center and verbally deliver a “Flash Message” which contained the organized data from the observation. One can imagine that aircraft approaching the coast would be spotted by multiple posts, resulting in multiple Flash Messages and, therefore, a reasonably accurate triangulation of position, speed, direction, altitude, etc.  The training and intense watching bore dramatic fruit in the autumn of 1943 when observers at a post in West Palm Beach, Florida saw and reported instantly the passage of a German aircraft bearing American markings over their post. The fact that the plane was one which had been captured in Europe and was being flown back to this country for examination detracted not one bit from the effectiveness of the recognition instruction.

To process the data from the observation posts, Information and Filter Centers were established in strategic, but secret, locations on both coasts. The Army called on Mrs. Adelaide Rickenbacker, wife of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker of World War I fame to assist in recruiting for the centers. The bulk of the center personnel were women drawn from the ranks of housewives, office workers, actresses, entertainers, and executives. In the summer of 1943, the center volunteers were given a name – Aircraft Warning Corps (AWC).  Center personnel represented the information from the flash messages designations on markers placed on large regional plotting maps in windowless rooms. From balconies overlooking these maps, officers of the Army (including the Army Air Force) and Navy watched the flights moving across the boards. To plot these flights, to staff the battery of telephones and to transmit information from filter rooms to operation rooms and from one filter center to another volunteers worked 24 hours a day. At the peak of operation, the Aircraft Warning Service of the First Fighter Command numbered some 750,000 individuals, of whom about 12,000 were in information and filter centers. Practice interceptions, run almost daily provided significant experience to ground officers and pilots working under simulated combat conditions. Because of its huge scope of operations on the East Cost it was able to save the lives of many young pilots by bringing speedy aide to those whose planes had crashed.

In the summer of 1943, a system of awards for services performed and outstanding accomplishments was established. There were elaborate awards ceremonies for those who “earned their wings” and Merit Awards for those who contributed thousands of hours. In addition to wings and merit awards, there were numerous printed certificates of award and appreciation. Normal insignia included arm bands for Observers and Chief Observers and the rare AWC patch for filter center workers.

On March 31, 1944, the IV Fighter Command was disbanded. On May 16, 1944, Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War wrote in a letter announcing the coming inactivation of the GOC, AWC and AWS, “This does not mean that the War Department is of the opinion that all danger of enemy bombing has passed. On the contrary, a small-scale sneak raid is still within the capabilities of our enemies. We must win this war in Europe and Asia, however, and the calculated risk we are assuming in reducing our air defense measures is justified by the offensive power we will thereby release.” With no fighters to scramble, no observers were necessary so inactivation was announced on May 29th 1944. On June 6th 1944 the allies invaded Europe. On May 27, 1944, Col. Stewart W. Towle, Jr. Commander of the Air Corps wrote, I want to express my personal appreciation and that of all the officers and men of this command to the volunteers who have served so loyally and efficiently with us in defense of the eastern seaboard.…Your country, the Army Air Force, and your fellow Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the Aircraft Warning Service. From wikipedia.
AWS Wings not included in sale, it is shown for reference. 

Price: $250.00

Product Code: PatchZ.UNK.MickeyMouse.AAF.AWSAirWarningSquadron
In Stock 
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