In world War II one of the biggest worries face not just the troops but also the general population was the use of chemical warfare as an airborne gas. In some countries you never left home with your coat and gas mask because you just never knew when the enemy might attack.
For adults this wasn’t really a problem but it was a different matter altogether for the children so apparently the American military began looking into different ways that they could make the idea of children using gas masks less frightening for them.
So with the approval, and under the military’s watchful eye, Sun Rubber Company came up with a Mickey Mouse gas mask. As explained by former Army instructor Major Robert D. Walk:
On January 7th, 1942, one month after Pearl Harbor, T.W. Smith, Jr., the owner of the Sun Rubber Company, and his designer, Dietrich Rempel, with Walt Disney’s approval introduced a protective mask for children. This design of the Mickey Mouse Gas Mask for children was presented to Major General William N. Porter, Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service. After approval of the CWS, Sun Rubber Products Company produced sample masks for review. Other comic book character designs were to follow, depending on the success of the Mickey Mouse mask [...]
The Sun Rubber Company produced approximately 1,000 Mickey Mouse gas masks and earned an Army-Navy ‘E’ for
Since these masks never made it into a full production run and with only 1,000 known to exist they have become a highly collectible item. Here it is being worn by a young child.