The film VICTORY THROUGH AIR POWER is a 1943 animated propaganda film produced by Walt Disney Studios. It is aimed at convincing the public and the government that the war could not be won without the use of air power. This film was kept in the vaults after WWII and only released on DVD in 2004 as part of a 2-Disc collection entitled On the Front Lines. Periodically you can find this DVD on Ebay, Amazon, and in your local library.

Victory through Air Power is modeled after a book by the same name authored by Major Alexander P. de Seversky. Seversky was born in Russia and entered military life at age 10. His father (having owned private aircraft) taught him how to fly. At age 14 he entered the Russian Naval Academy. During WWI he was shot down and injured. His leg was amputated. This incredible individual went on to fly additional combat missions during WWI. He then defected to the US, became a citizen, and started an aircraft company. In 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Habor, Seversky wrote Victory through Air Power which became a best seller. Walt Disney read the book, and was intrigued with the idea of using long-range bombers that he decided to produce a film funded with his own money.

The opening scene of the film reads:

General Billy Mitchell was a United States Army General considered the “father of the Air Force.” In the 1930’s, General Mitchell was pleading with the government to begin an Air Force.

This film traces the history of aviation in the United States, starting with the famous Wright Brothers Flight and continuing on to the present (1943) using animation to teach. When General Seversky talks about his detailed plans, he appears on camera in an office with a wing back chair. Sometimes he is standing behind the chair, or sitting on the desk or in the chair. The film continues the use of animation showing how and why we cannot win the war with only ground troops and naval battles.

After the film was produced, a copy was sent to Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt. Roosevelt made the commitment to increase air power and the use of long-range bombing.

The second disc of the 2-disc set includes propaganda cartoons starring Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Titles include: Donald Duck gets Drafted, Private Pluto, How to Be a Sailor, The Seven Wise Dwarfs, Food Will Win the War, Spirit of ’43, Cleanliness Brings Health, Education for Death, Chicken Little, and many more.

EDUCATIONAL/HOMESCHOOL TIE-INS: To find links to most of the activities and crafts, visit my Pinterest BoardMake sure to like my page on FACEBOOK to keep up with the latest movie reviews and Disney announcements.

Character Training:  
Determination is a theme throughout – from the Wright Brothers to Walt Disney and Seversky, you encounter individuals who didn’t give up, and who continued to persevere even when they suffered much failure. Search for Disney quotes that show determination or perseverence. Search the Bible for verses that talk about those traits.

History: This film is filled with history starters, from the history of aviation, World War I, and World War II, etc. Some ideas are as follows: The History of Aviation, history of the bicycle, the Wright Brothers, the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, Transcontinental Flights, first flight across the English Channel, sea planes, history of aircraft during WWI, symbols on WWI planes, Bomber planes, Barnstormers, Charles Lindbergh – solo flight, Howard Hughes, airmail service, Hitler, WWI air battles, WWII battles, submarines, supply lines to transport vital war supplies, Rosie the Riveter, etc.

Science: Horse Power – what is it? Horsepower of early planes versus planes today.
Use of Bicycle Chains – clean and oil your bicycle chain. Creative uses for bicycle chains.
How are Bicycle Chains Made?

Paper airplanes – Distance, speed, and time in the air. How far can you fly one; how long can your plane stay up.
Submarines – how they work, build a submarine, build a periscope.

English: Persuasive speech or paper – Select a controversial issue or invention. Persuade your audience to invest in your invention. If you select a controversial topic argue from the side that you do not agree with. It is essential to train our children to understand the opposite side of the argument.

Use humor (cartoon or jokes) to create a persuasive argument.

Use humor to create a training video of some sort. How to cook, bake cookies, knit, build a model, etc.

Music/Sound: This film was nominated for an Academy Award for the Best Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. What film won the award in 1943? Read about the other nominations for 1943, and listen to their music. Have a vote in your house for the best music for the year 1943.

Create the sound of airplanes and tanks.

Art: Create a banner similar to the one below with your favorite quote or verse using a program such as PicMonkey.
Create an airplane out of old cutlery!
Create toilet paper roll aircraft.
Make a ornament with a bicycle chain.

Snack: Airplane snacks, submarine snacks, and tank snacks.

For Older Students: Have them continue to explore the advancements made in aviation since 1943 both for the military and commercial aircraft.


8 thoughts on “Disney’s Victory Through Air Power (1943) – Teaching & Homeschooling Movies”

  1. There is so much wonderful history in this video. We have been watching the Disney movies in order of their release dates and it is wonderful to watch the way movies (especially Disney movies) evolved.

  2. Wow, there's a lot of learning packed into one movie! We'll have to watch it when we get to American History in a couple of years.

  3. This is one of those that should be watched by everyone. It really helps you to understand what was going on on the homefront during WWII.

  4. Trena Balakrishnan

    Love all these ideas. Love "historical" movies. I may try to find it and enjoy with my family.

  5. I really enjoyed it, and was shocked to find out all that Disney contributed too. I have another post about Disney and the space program; Walt was very influential and had his hand in a lot.

  6. I love the entire collection. The cartoons are great on the bonus DVD – true war propaganda.

  7. I'm so glad you shared this! I've never even heard of the movie, and it would go great with our American history!

  8. How interesting to see how things looked from back then! I could see where this would be a good "time period source" to use when teaching kids about WWI and WWII.

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