Firstly, Dave, thanks for posting the very intriguing RAF quote (from Howse?), as you say the more cross-correlated accounts one can accumulate, the closer to the truth we get, avoiding the distortions some are prepared to incorporate. I have not yet found corroboration of this RAF account anywhere, even from sources keen to highlight the unpreparedness of the British for the Japanese assault.
Paddon's account clearly places himself at the centre of radar matters in PoW at the time, and if he is not operating the 281, he is operating the 284 in tracking mode against Bismarck. He describes himself to the Executive officer as the
RDF officer. He takes the new Admiral for a tour round the radar installations during Mediterranean service. He says “I” got a new type 273.
He would be remiss indeed in his duties if PoW’s most effective search radar were left unrepaired whilst he was running up a bar bill at the Raffles Hotel. However he says he would have known about it if the Type 273 were unserviceable, and the PRO reference only mentions the failed Type 282s, not that the principal search radar was down. I will certainly keep an eye out for support for one side or the other.
I must correct my earlier post, Type 286 was ASV II (not I) on a ship and far from being ineffectual, Hezlet “Electron and Sea-Power” whilst describing it as “rather primitive” observes it was installed in 97 out of 247 Western Approaches escorts by mid 1941. It detected many U-boats and was directly responsible for terminating the life and career of Joachim Schepke in U-100, amongst others. It is quite likely Electra and Express were equipped with type 286 even if Vampire and Tenedos weren’t.
This business of Type 284 having to be shut off and warmed up again is all very well in principle, but Suffolk would have been incapable of tracking Bismarck for as long as she did in such terrible conditions, if it was not possible to over-ride this practice. Admiral Tom Phillips has received overwhelming criticism over his actions since Force Z’s destruction but to suggest his force was touring the South China Sea at night, when a large and powerfully protected invasion force was nearby, but with all its radars unserviceable or switched off is a put-down too far.
I realise we should not be diverted to US practice in this thread, but an obsession with US radar failings at Savo may tend to colour opinions about subsequent actions too much. At Cape Esperance Helena tracked the approaching Japanese from 27,000 yds down to about 8,000 without reporting to the flagship, who had committed the squadron to a confusing about turn in succession, little knowing the enemy was bearing down at 20 knots. Muddle from the turn, chronically poor TBS discipline and confusion as to where the lost van destroyers were, negated most of the advantage of a pure-luck perfect T crossing occurring before those fantastic night fighting Japanese were even aware US ships were about. At the ensuing battle of Guadalcanal, Helena did it again at a similar range but reported straight away. Further muddled communications and tactics resulted in the US force being even more unprepared and instead of crossing the T ran headlong into the Japanese force. In both cases American radar gave a considerable advantage over Japanese eyeballs but poor TBS discipline resulted in US chaos. Sorry enough off-thread.
All the best