Following the Pearl Harbor attack, defending the Pacific coast from Japanese invasion was at the forefront of the California State Guard.
The U.S. had entered a new age of fear and worry. It was also an age of inventiveness — particularly when it came to national defense.
In this historical context, it might make sense that the California State Guard organized just such a unit of “bat-man” paratroopers to defend the entire state from threats both foreign and domestic.
Mickey Morgan, a famous jumper who made an entire career testing various wingsuits, was chosen by the California State Guard to lead a unit of “bat-man” paratroopers in 1942. “Bat-wings, it is claimed, makes paratroops more maneuverable-and swifter,” reported Mechanix Illustrated in January 1942.
Incidentally, that same magazine made a prediction on bat wings earlier, in a August 1941 article titled “Yankee Ingenuity Vs. Hitler!”
Here’s a cool bit of history: i09 points out that the military expert who helpedMechanix Illustrated forecast the use of bat wings for military applications is oneMajor Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Well, a few years before helping to inspire real-life “bat-men,” he founded a comic book company called National Allied Publications — which later would evolve into DC Comics.
Wheeler-Nicholson founded the company in 1934 as National Allied Publications, and later helmed the creation of Detective Comics. Wheeler-Nicholson left the company before The Bat-Man debuted in 1939′s Detective Comics #27.
While he wasn’t plugging a character running in his comics (because he had left the company by that point), Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson was making recommendations on bat wings, and helping to inspire a squadron of “bat-men” while Bat-Man was in the comic books.