View Full Version : RN Type 291 Radar

19-12-2009, 10:12
A trio of questions, if I may, to help me date a photo of an RN destroyer.

1. The type 291 radar was identified by its X shaped antenna. When did the operational fitting of the type 291 radar start on RN destroyers (not trials fittings)? I suspect it is the first half of 1942. Can anyone confirm this and perhaps suggest the month?

2. I understand that the type 286PQ radar used the X shaped antenna of the type 291. Is there anything about the appearance of the masthead fitting that enables you to tell the difference between a 286PQ and a 291?

3. When did operational fitting of the 286PQ begin?

Best wishes.

19-12-2009, 11:03
1. According to "The development of radar equipment for the Royal Navy 1939-45", edited by F.A. Kingsley, the Type 291 was a re-engineered Type 286, with new receiver and 100kW transmitter. The book gives detailed fittings of large ships, but only a general outline of smaller units, so no date for service is given other than "...late 1942".

2. The same source confirms that the 286PQ used the same antenna as Type 291 "... a scaled down version of the 281 array".

3. Fitting of 286PQ "with higher power and rotating antenna" began in late 1941.

19-12-2009, 11:06
The same source confirms that the 'warning-combined' radar for destroyers was either 286 or 291...but does not specify individual units

19-12-2009, 21:22
Dear Navalis,

Thank you very much indeed. The problem is that I have pictures which I know to be early 1942 showing the X shaped antenna. Given what Kingsley says that would mean these are in fact fitted to 286PQs. Most interesting.

19-12-2009, 21:34

I, too have a copy of a May 1942 photo of a RN H-class destroyer that has proven, thus far, to be an exceptionally difficult ship to identify. From first-hand experience, I will say the smaller "X" array can be misleading, especially if one assumes it is a 291 rather than a 286PQ and, further, one uses that misinformation to help figure out its identity! :confused:

19-12-2009, 21:57
Dick; You might like to try a look at this site:-

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://jproc.ca/sari/286.jpg&imgrefurl=http://jproc.ca/sari/sarrad2.html&usg=__BFUGOXFXG6jx5DSL7ZgUaSk_chs=&h=231&w=283&sz=11&hl=en&start=19&um=1&tbnid=h2XO-b0GO57OBM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=114&prev=/images%3Fq%3D286PQ%2BRADAR%2BAERIAL%26hl%3Den%26sa %3DN%26um%3D1

One will keep looking for you though, as there are a number of references to revisit before throwing in the towel on this one.

Little h

20-12-2009, 08:59
Thank you Dan and Harry. It is surprising how little seems to be readily available on this issue.

The idea of manual rotation for the 286PQ could be significant as it might have resulted in a different visual appearance as there would perhaps have to be some “rod” up to the aerial from below leading to perhaps a differently shaped gear housing “box” that the aerial sat on.

Magnifying glass out again….

20-12-2009, 09:44
I would think that trying to identify a Type 286P / PQ from a Type 291 is going to be very difficult. According to Kingsley the antenna for both was identical, being mounted on an aluminium pedestal and rotated by hand, a ‘Bowden cable’ being used. It was the below decks equipment that was different.

Further reading shows that the original Type 286, with fixed antenna, was replaced by the Type 286P, with a rotatable aerial in February 1941 - the only difference between the 286P and 286PQ was the latter had higher power - the PQ was introduced in late 1941. Both 286P and PQ used the same aerial.

Checking in “British Destroyers” by March, he seems to indicate that the early fittings (1941-42) on existing destroyers were Type 286P or PQ, but these were updated to 291 from 1943 onwards.

New build destroyers in 1941 (M / N / O / P classes) all had Type 286P or PQ on build, but most were updated to 291 from 1943.

New build destroyers from 1942 - the S class onwards - had Type 291 from new .

Marek T
06-02-2014, 13:21
BLYSKAWICA during post-refit trials in November 1941, as refitted with 4" guns and with what seems to be 286P radar.