The Fairey Firefly AS.7 was developed to provide the Fleet Air Arm with a three-seat anti-submarine aircraft while work continued on the Fairey Gannet, but was never used in that role and instead entered service as the Firefly T.7.
The Firefly AS.7 was significantly different to any earlier model. The rear observer's cockpit was expanded to take two radar operators, and was given a larger bulged canopy. The wing leading edge radiators that had been introduced on the FR.4 were replaced with an annular chin radiator similar to that on the original Firefly F.1. The AS.7 was to be powered by either a Griffon 57 or 59 engine, with water-methanol injection. A new radar set, the ASV 19A, was installed, and the radomes were moved to the outer wings. The wingspan was the same as on the Firefly F.1, and longer than on the FR.4. Like the AS.6, the AS.7 carried no guns but a wide range of anti-submarine weaponry could be carried under the wings.
The first Firefly AS.7 made its maiden flight on 22 May 1951. Tests revealed that handling was poor, especially at low speeds. Attempts to fix the handling problems by installed a larger fin and rudder failed, and it soon became clear that the AS.7 was not suitable for carrier operations.
By this point 337 aircraft had been ordered, and production began late in 1951. In order to avoid wasting these aircraft it was decided to use them as shore-based trainers, as the Firefly T.7. The ability to carry two pupils meant that the T.7 was more flexible than the earlier Firefly trainers, and eventually 151 were built. They were used by No.719 Squadron, Naval Air Anti-Submarine School from March 1954 to June 1956, and by the Observer School, Nos.750 and 796 Squadrons, from April 1953 to December 1957. Eventually the Firefly T.7 was replaced by Gannet trainers.
Stats as T.7
Engine: Griffon 59
Power: 2,455hp at take-off, 1,965hp at altitude
Wing span: 44ft 6in
Length: 38ft .25in
Height: 13ft 25in
Empty Weight: 11,016lb
Loaded Weight: 13,970lb
Max Speed: 300mph at 10,750ft
Service Ceiling: 25,500ft
Range: 860 miles
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