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Thread: RAF jargon - "Second Dicky"

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    Default RAF jargon - "Second Dicky"

    Hi all,

    I would like to ask for a language help - I understand that this phrase means the second pilot who is expected to be so experienced as captain and that this expression comes (as far as I was able to find) from a Wellington and its folding seat for 2nd pilot.

    But could anybody give me an advice how to translate it?:-) I can translate it by a short paragraph with an explanation of the term but it will be nice to have a shorter translation which will keep the meaning. Vocabularies and Google Translate did not help me much...

    TIA

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Hi Pavel

    Unless anyone can do better: -

    This was a inexperienced pilot acting as 2nd pilot on an operational sortie prior to taking his own crew on operations.

    Malcolm

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    Hi Pavel,

    As I understand it, Second Dicky refers to both the actual chair, a small horizontal surface that folds or hinges down, and to the person sitting on that chair. Typically a second dicky would be the second pilot or navigator, someone who had just entered an operational squadron and went for one flight to observe how a veteran crew handled a mission. The 2nd pilot would have sat up front with the pilot/captain. I am not sure if the 2nd navigator had a spot next to the navigator, or if he was up front. Someone else would have to confirm that.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

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    Pavel, Hi,
    For starters try http://www.audioenglish.org/dictionary/dickie-seat.htm. I'm almost sure that the phrase originated in the sports car age of the 1920's. Young men of "independent means" roared about the UK country-side in high powered sports cars in order to impress their lady-friends. There was an additional, folding, seat in the back. If you ever manage to read P G Woodhouse then you will find that this folding seat was - on occasions - often occupied by Bertie Wooster's manservant! Or, to put it into RAF parlance of the day, the dickie-seat would have been occupied by the Officer's batman!!
    This may not be factually correct, Pavel, but until some expert comes up with the real reason I suggest you go down this road!! Ho Ho!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Pavel,

    Second Dicky explained - or is it? Now ask, "Who or what was the First Dicky"?

    Cheers

    Jim

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    Jim, Hi,
    I think there is an explanation. The two words (in English) have a juxtaposition in common usage, but not in syntax!
    “Second” means someone not a primary operator (in whatever position in the a/c). “Dickie” means occupying the fold/hinge down seat in that aircraft whilst under training/instruction/experience – i.e. a “makee learnee. It does not, in my opinion, lead to the assumption that there was ever a “First Dickie”. Otherwise, we would – no doubt – have seen it in ORBs/Log Books/Narratives/Books?
    But, as ever in these matters, I am prepared to be corrected by my elders/superiors!! LOL!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    This post falls under the category of, "Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, or disregard it as drivel if you like."

    In the very few times that I have heard WW2 pilots use the term "2nd Dicky" in conversation they seem to have attached a slight derogatory connotation to it; such as,
    "On my first op I didn't fly the 'plane. I just went along for the ride as 2nd Dicky. I was there to gain operational experience."

    Another term used for 2nd Dicky (or 2nd Pilot) was "deadhead" but I don't know how extensively the term deadhead was used during WW2.
    Sometimes a 2nd Dicky was, in error, referred to as an Observer.
    If there was a slight derogatory connotation to the term 2nd Dicky it will be difficult to translate it into another language:
    the term "backseat driver" is far too harsh.

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    Hi all,

    many thanks for all the posts and explanations.
    Finally I came to conclusion that it is quite impossible to translate this expression into Czech adequately so I will leave the original English expression in text and will explain it in the foot note

    many thanks for all inputs

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Hi Pavel

    Interesting that some people have said that it was a slightly derogatory term. While I've never had cause to discuss it, I don't think I've come across it used in that fashion in any books I've seen.

    I would have thought that pilots and other aircrew would have seen it as a necessary and wise part of the training programme (even if not an 'official' requirement?), for eg a new pilot to accompany an experienced crew before heading off in charge of his own plane and crew.

    That said, I guess it could have been less complimentary if the person in question was some other form of 'passenger', say an officer who did not regularly fly on ops, and perhaps someone who selected to accompany crews on 'easier' (ie 'safer') ones.

    An interesting question. Thank you.

    Ian

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    I agree entirely with ianh – I think he has got it about right! However, I would raise a very slight query about his para 3. There were exceptions.
    There was, in the early years of the Bomber Offensive, some concern being exhibited over aircrew night vision and air to ground visibility. S Met O 38 Wing, Netheravon, - Sqn Ldr Campbell Crichton-Miller - started to investigate this problem. He had been in France (3 times) in 1940. He then pitched up at Ringway involved in the first para training Met problems. He next briefs the aircrew for Op BITING. Then he flies with 295 Sqn on a bombing raid against electricity transformers at Distre, Saumur, on 19 Feb 43, to gather real-time information for the visibility investigations. He may, thus, come into the category of those who “did not fly regularly on operations”. Unfortunately, the transformer site was rather more heavily defended than had been anticipated. Two a/c were shot down. Crichton-Miller’s was one of them. He was, as far as we know, the only Met Branch Officer KIA in WW2. His side-cap was retrieved by the locals before the Germans got to the crash-scene, and – in a touching occasion significantly assisted by Forum members – his descendant relatives were presented with it by the descendants of those who had acquired it!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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