Dean Ivan Lamb
Lt. Col. Ivan Lamb
Taken in 1953/54 at Davis Monthan AFB
Contributed by Harry Fanning, 10-11-10

via email from Peter Breen - September 26, 2003
     Just a short note by way of explanation. I am writing a biography on Dean Lamb. I'd written 60,000 words when I decided to write the chapter on history's first air duel over Naco in November, 1913, in which Lamb is alleged to have fought.
     However on re-reading Lamb's 'autobiography' Incurable Filibuster (published 1934 and still available in second-hand bookstores), I find the incident either never happened or had to have happened in November, 1914. Either way the incident throws Lamb's life out of whack for the following six years. How reputable historians have missed it I have no idea. But Dean Lamb's part in 'the first air duel' could not have happened, at least the way he described it. I have put the Lamb 'biography' to one side until I can verify his life. I have in the following details tried to sort out fiction from fact and those parts of his life that I have verified..

DEAN IVAN LAMB - 1886-1956

Chapter 1. Introduction, The War Years - 1886-1923
Chapter 2. Adventures in Brazil 1923-1924-
Chapter 3. Return to the United States - 1924-1956

In Ol' Mexico
Reports On EB Flights During Revolution
by Ernest Jones
     Ernest Jones, secretary of the Early Birds, is compiling a history of the activites of American fliers in various and sundry scheduled and non-scheduled Mexican campaigns. To whet our appetite for what is to come, he sends the following tid-bits:
     "Some members of the EB clan occasionally meet up with Dean Ivan Lamb, of the Lamb-Rader match."
     "It seems, according to Lamb, that he was flying a Curtiss for the Carranzistas under Benjamin Hill. Phil Rader was handling a Cristofferson for the other side."
     "Over Naco the enemy airmen entered into a pistol argument, which ended with no casualties. Circling to re-load, Lamb held his gun inside his shirt when ejecting the shells and loaded from his belt, the pistol between his legs and one hand on the wheel. It was the first air duel on record."
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir

     You will find a reference to Dean at the meeting in Los Angeles by clicking on the title above. You may the "Find" function on "Dean" to locate the entry on the page.

     If you search for "Dean Ivan Lamb" using the Google search engine, (9-23-03), you will find about 89 links. I could only find two which were of much interest.
Los Aviadores Extranjeros de la División Del Norte
Excerpt of introductory paragraph.
"LA LUCHA REVOLUCIONARIA mexicana de 1910 a 1920 constituyó una de las primeras guerras de este siglo en donde el aeroplano se utilizó como arma de combate. El Ejército italiano fue el primero en emplear tanto el aeroplano como el dirigible, en conflictos bélicos durante su conquista del territorio turco de Cirenaica y Triplitania entre 1911 y 1912; y también lo utilizaron las fuerzas beligerantes que pelearon en la Guerra de los Balcanes de 1912 a 1913."
     For the benefit of those of my visitors who don't read Spanish, I have translated this introduction.
"The Mexican REVOLUTIONARY FIGHT from 1910 to 1920 constituted one of the first wars of this century in which the airplane was used as a battle weapon. The Italian Army was first to use the airplane, as well as the dirigible, in warlike conflicts during its conquest of the Turkish territory of Cirenaica and Tripolitania between 1911 and 1912. They were also used by the belligerent forces that fought in the War of the Balkan Mountains from 1912 to 1913."
     I am sorry that I can't find an English version of this story, because it is absolutely fascinating. It refers to many of the pioneers who took part in the fight including Dean Lamb, Didier Masson, Gustavo Salinas Camiña, Glenn H. Curtiss, Edwin Charles Parsons,
     Unfortunately, if you try to get an English translation using Babel Fish, you will only see about the first quarter of the article is translated. This doesn't reach the portion which deals with the activites of the American aviators. Unless you read Spanish, you will have to find the section, using the FIND button, copy it and paste it into the Babel Fish program. A lot of work...
Pioneering Air-Sea Engagement
Didier Masson's 1913 attack on a Federalist gunboat at the behest of Mexican rebels was one of the earliest airstrikes carried out against a naval vessel.
by David H. Grover.
Didier Masson sat in the pilot's seat and warmed up his open biplane on a primitive runway in the hills of the Mexican state of Sonora. He was apprehensive over what was about to take place. A French citizen who had entered Mexico illegally from the United States, he was not concerned that he was about to become a participant in a revolution of a country in which he had no stake. Ideologies were no problem to a mercenary, and it was clearly Masson's passion for flying, not his passion for the revolutionary cause, that had taken him to Mexico. His concern, instead, was that he knew very little about what his new flying assignment would demand of him in terms of skill, and even less about how much danger was involved.
The sequel to the history-making events at Guaymas is as interesting as the bombing attempts themselves. Before the summer of 1913 was over, another first for military aviation took place in Mexico when two American mercenaries engaged in what might have been the first dogfight in history. Fought with revolvers, this engagement pitted Dean Lamb, flying for the revolutionaries in a Curtiss pusher, against Phil Rader, flying for the Federal government in a Christofferson. Both planes were similar to the Martin flown by Didier Masson, but the fliers were even more exposed in that both of those aircraft lacked a stabilizer or rudder in front of the pilot. The duel took place near the town of Naco and ended in a draw, with neither pilot gaining any advantage over the other.
Editor's Note: This reference was found in the article titled Pioneering Air-Sea Engagement which was found on the website of the Aviation History Magazine. (7-15-02). Unfortunately it has disappeared from the internet.

     Lieutenant Colonel Dean I. Lamb. who served aviation in many countries as well as the United States, passed away at Tucson, Arizona, in early November, 1955 at the age of 69. He was credited with many "firsts" and was a regular soldier of fortune.
     Born at Cherry Flats, Pa. in 1886, he was educated at Columbia University, various foreign military schools and the USAAF Intelligence School. His later military service was most extensive.
     Dean joined the old Curtiss flying school at Hammondsport, N.. in 1912, and later became an air mail pilot. During the civil war in Paraguay, 1922-23, he commanded the Paraguay air force against the revolutionists. He also was active in various other Latin American countries.
     He was president of the Bettis flying school at McKeesport, Pa., 1926-27; pilot-salesman for Air Associates, 1927-28; test pilot for Vertoplane Corp., New York, 1935-36; and president of Larga Company, aircraft export firm, 1938-39.
     His military record included service in the British Expeditionary Force in World War I; and service in the USAF in 1942-44 and 1947-48. Also service in other countries, and he had received numerous foreign decorations. He was credited with being the first to shoot down an enemy plane in World War I and his combat flying extended through World War II.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, January, 1956, Number 52

Lamb Death
Ruling Made
     Coroner Clark H. Jonhson has ruled Lt. Col. Dean Ivan Lamb, 60, USAF ret., died of heart failure induced by barbiturate poisoning.
     He said no inquest would be held into Lamb'w death Turesday night in a downtown hotel room.
     Dr. Louis Hirsch, local pathologist, and a Tucson chemist made the chemicla analysis.
     Official believe the retired army officer and colorful soldier of fortune took his own life. Several varieties of barbiturates were found in his hotel room.
     "Who's Who in Aviation" lists several aerial firsts accredited to Col. Lamb in the early days of flying.
Unidentified Clipping
Contributed by Harry Fanning, 10-11-10

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