“They Had What It Takes – Part 33: Arch Whitehouse” by Alden McWilliams
This week we bring you Part 33 of Alden McWilliams’ illustrated tribute to the pioneer fliers of the early days of aviation. He called it “They Had What it Takes” and this installment appeared in the October 1939 Flying Aces. It features our old pal here at Age of Aces—Arch Whitehouse. Whitehouse was a prolific writer, both for the pulps and aviation-themed books after the pulps ended. We’ve posted a number of Whitehouse’s stories from Flying Aces and Sky Birds with some of his long running characters like Buzz Benson, Crash Carringer, Coffin Kirk, The Casket Crew, Tug Hardwick and The Griffon!
Arch Whitehouse was blessed with a fertile imagination which seemed to spill over into the acounts of his own war record. McWilliams piece and Whitehouse’s own biography, Hell in Helmets, credit Whitehouse with shooting down 16 German aeroplanes—at most he may have had 4 kills—it seems that he was something of a serial exaggerator.
We’ve posted this installment long before we started posting the entire series of Alden McWilliam’s “They Had What It Takes”, but here it is in sequence in case you missed it.
Next time: Clarence Chamberlin—Trans-Atlantic Vet.
“T.N.T. Transport” by Arch Whitehouse
Secret Service agent and flying reporter Buzz Benson approached Sunkist Airport in his slick speedy Corsair for the worst assignment he ever had. Ten days before, three gigantic Boeing transports had vanished from the sky—never to appear again. Was it another Jap plot or something more mysterious?
“The Complete Adventures of Coffin Kirk” by Arch Whitehouse
The six adventures of Arch Whitehouse’s “Coffin Kirk” appeared in Flying Aces from October 1937 to June 1941. They featured Brian “Coffin” Kirk’s battles against the evil Circle of Death. Kirk is ably assisted by his simian sidekick Tank. All of these stories have been available for dowload on our site, but we have decided to put them together in one PDF so that our loyal readers can access them more easily.
“Raider Wings” by Arch Whitehouse
Tug Hardwick’s sleek Northrop was beautiful as it hurtled over the shimmering Sulu Sea—beautiful, that is, until its vitals were poisoned with whistling lead! Anyhow, this hot interview was something the Flying-Reporter hadn’t expected. Why, before his story was written it was getting punctuated—with bullets! But bullets or no. Tug was bent on tracking down his man. And he knew he was on the right track when a booming laugh brought forth—a little ship that wasn’t there!
“The Flying Fortress” by Arch Whitehouse
A Yank pilot said too much at a Paris estaminet, a British airman said too little on the way to the Front. And a battle that began at twelve thousand feet hurtled to a hangar door. Will this be the end of The Casket Crew?
“Hawks From the Smoke” by Arch Whitehouse
In this adventure, two of Arch Whitehouse’s most popular flying duos team up to foil a Japanese invasion of the Phillipines. Tug Hardwick and Beansie Bishop are joined by Coffin Kirk and his simian assistant, Tank.
Peculiar white wisps on the ocean below! What sinister thing did they hide? Tug had to know. But Beansie had no time for that mystery—what with gun-bristling Mitsubishis swarming down the skies to face his twin Brownings. What’s more, he now was encountering a mystery of his own. For a strangely-marked Breda had suddenly dived in among those vengeful “Rising Sun” fighters. And the gunner aboard that Breda was too efficient to be human!
“Rip-Cord Ruse” by Arch Whitehouse
The Griffon is in the air to solve another high flying mystery. When is a good dollar counterfeit? That was only one of the baffling riddles that faced Kerry Keen after he attended that fashionable night club—by request. Sure, bad money is queer, but some things are a lot queerer—getting offered half a million bucks just for putting on a 200-mile air express act, for instance. Certainly, that was one for the book. And as for the silk-hatted man of mystery who had invaded Graylands—well, that was already in the book!
“Hell Over Hainan” by Arch Whitehouse
Those two news-hawks, Tug Hardwick and Beansie Bishop, were well acquainted with Old Man Trouble. And by steering clear of Hainan they were sure they could stay out of his clutches. But what Tug didn’t know—though he would soon find out—was that Old Man Trouble could find you anywhere, especially in China where oil flows thicker than blood.
“Guile of the Griffon” by Arch Whitehouse
Join Kerry Keen and Barney O’Dare as “The Griffon” returns with another exciting adventure.
Down through the ebony night dived a strange, black amphibian. Glistening in the reflected light of the great Montauk beam, it glided to the water and taxied to a ramp where two men stood in the shadows. And from the cockpit of that eerie craft crawled a hideously deformed creature—a man whose very existence was a cruel mockery of the grave. “I built—” he croaked, leering at the taller man, “not one plane, but two. The other,” he continued in a queer cackle, “went to a man whom you, Keen, will kill—though as yet you’ve never even heard of him . . . .”
Arch Whitehouse: WWI Pilot and Pulp Writer
One of our favorite aviation pulp writers here at Age of Aces is the extraordinarily prolific Arch Whitehouse. The series characters he created for Flying Aces and Sky Birds were extremely popular with the readers back in the 30’s and 40’s, and they are among the most popular downloads in our “Age of Aces Presents” section. Month after month he brought these colorful aces to life. They had names like Buzz Benson, Tug Hardwick, Coffin Kirk, Crash Carringer, the Casket Crew, and many more.
Seventy years ago this month Flying Aces magazine ran an illustrated profile of Whitehouse’s life, including his exploits as a WWI pilot. Here it is as it appeared in the October 1939 issue.
While Whitehouse’s account of his war record is entertaining, experts have attacked it as, at best, an exaggeration. And at worst, outright fabrication. It seems that the line between fiction and non-fiction was a little blurry for Arch Whitehouse.
War Skies of Shanghai by Arch Whitehouse
Reporter/Flying Ace Billy “Buzz” Benson returns with a new adventure. Westward toward Shanghai, where smoldered a fire of war that threatened to blaze forth and enflame the whole world, a Yankee submarine cut through the waters of the Pacific. Deep in its hold was the Sea Hawk, the plane chosen to carry Buzz Benson straight through the Japanese air zone with secret orders that would mean war or peace. But not twenty cable lengths away steamed a Japanese sub, and in its hold was another Sea Hawk—awaiting the moment when Benson should begin his mad air race to Shanghai!
“Death Flies to Fukien” by Arch Whitehouse
This is the second story in Arch Whitehouse’s series about flying newspaperman Tug Hardwick. Tug and his sidekick, Beansie Bishop, knew where they could find Old Man Trouble if they wanted him. Shanghai was the place—for the welcome they’d get there would be a rousing one profusely punctuated with bullets! But meanwhile, Old Man Trouble had grown tired of waiting for them. That was something those two Yanks didn’t know—until a man fell at their feet with a knife in his back!
“Shanghai Snare” by Arch Whitehouse
In December 1937 Arch Whitehouse introduced a new character to the readers of Flying Aces. His name was Tug Hardwick. Tug was a fighter ace and test pilot for the US Air Service until a plane he had certified crashed and killed his brother. He gave up flying and became a correspondent for the Amalgamated News Service. His first assignment was in war torn Shanghai. It was there that he met portly “Beansie” Bishop, who also worked in China for Amalgamated. The two of them became fast friends and stuck together through all kinds of spine tingling adventures, starting with “Shanghai Snare”:
Just why had he got mixed up in that maddening war-correspondent game in bloody, shell-racked Shanghai? Tug Hardwick pondered over that question. But before he had time to answer it, Fate sent that hardy young newsman to cover an amazing story which wasn’t listed in his assignment book. The stage was set for that story when Tug dropped into the Astor House—and the bang-up action began when a bomb dropped in after him.
“Fate Flies the Breda” by Arch Whitehouse
Here is the sixth, and last, of Arch Whitehouse’s tales of Coffin Kirk and his simian assistant Tank. It was just an ordinary tin can. But before the day was done, that innocent-looking red container was destined to cause a lot of trouble for Coffin Kirk, for the Japanese knew what was in it. And they were determined that it would never reach it’s destination.
“Balloons For a Breda” by Arch Whitehouse
Only one green balloon was supposed to be floating above the U.S.S. Marblehurst. But somehow the plans had gone haywire—for there were two! Which was the right one? “Coffin” Kirk had to choose—and choose fast. Because three lead-hurling Mitsubishis were roaring down the heavens! Still, none of it fazed “Tank.” He was always ready—even when Kirk deliberately put a Jap Intelligence officer on their own sky trail and presented him with—a bouquet of lavender!