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M7 105mm Priest Howitzer |Motor Carriage (HMC) with dozer - case report

      Today let's talk about one of WWII's best-known self-propelled artillery vehicles: The subject is the M7 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage (HMC) "Priest", but let's focus on one of its lesser-known versions: the dozer version. But before, let's make some comments about this weapon.

M7 105mm Priest HMC in Carentan,  France - June 1944.
 2nd Armoured Division - 14th Field Artillery
      The 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 was an American self-propelled artillery vehicle produced during World War II.
M7 105mm HMC Priest “Super Rabbit” firing on high position
40th Infantry Division - Luzon 1945
      It was given the official service name 105 mm Self Propelled Gun, Priest by the British Army, due to the pulpit-like machine gun ring, and following on from the Bishop,  Deacon and Bishop self-propelled guns.
Holy Artillery, Batman !!
      U.S. Army observers realized that they would need a self-propelled artillery vehicle with sufficient firepower to support armored operations. Lessons learned with half-tracks, such as the T19 Howitzer Motor Carriage (HMC) with a 105 mm howitzer on the M3 Half-track chassis, also showed that this vehicle would have to be armored and fully tracked.
T19 105mm HMC - The initial series did not
have the protective shield in the gun for the crew
      It was decided to use the M3 Lee chassis as the basis for this new vehicle design, named T32. The pilot vehicles used the M3 chassis with an open-topped superstructure, mounting an M1A2 105 mm howitzer, with a machine-gun added after trials.
T32 105mm HMC prototype in trials
February 1942
       The T32 was accepted for service as the M7 in February 1942 and production began that April. The British Tank Mission had requested 2,500 to be delivered by the end of 1942 and a further 3,000 by the end of 1943, an order which was never fully completed.
M7 105mm Priest Howitzer Motor Carriage
Finalist at Fort Knox - 1942
Notice the late transmission cover, early bogies,
no side armour plates and no headlights guards
     As the M4 Sherman tank replaced the M3, it was decided to continue production using the M4 chassis (the M4 chassis was a development of the M3). The M7 was subsequently supplanted by the M37 HMC (on the "Light Combat Team" chassis that also gave the M24 Chaffee light tank).
M37 105mm HMC - based in M24 Chaffee chassis
       While the first M7s were produced for the U.S. Army, some were diverted to support the British in North Africa. Ninety M7s were sent to British Armour Divisions in North Africa, which was also the first to use it, during the Second Battle of El Alamein, along with the Bishop, a self-propelled gun based on the 87.6 mm calibre Ordnance QF 25-pounder gun-howitzer.
M7 Priest 105 mm HMC in her debut with American Army
135th Infantry - 34th Division
Algeria - 1942
A British M7 Priest 105mm HMC of the 1st Armoured Division preparing for action
El Alamein - 2 November 1942
      The British had logistical problems with the M7, as it used U.S. ammunition that was not compatible with other British guns and had to be supplied separately. The problem was resolved in 1943 with the Sexton, developed by the Canadians on an M3 chassis, using the standard British QF 25-pounder.
Sexton Mk I early: notice the M3 bogies with T54E1 VVSS tracks,
the absence of the muzzle brake in the 25 pdr. gun and the 3 piece transmission cover
      The British used the M7 throughout the North African and Italian campaigns. The 3rd and 50th British, and 3rd Canadian divisions that landed on Sword, Juno and Gold beaches at the start of the Allied invasion of Normandy had their artillery regiments equipped with the M7; these were replaced by the standard towed 25-pounder guns of the infantry in early August.
British M7 105mm Priest HMC roaring in an Italian road
Italy - late June -1944.
Canadian M7 105mm Priest HMC
3rd Canadian Infantry Division - Royal canadian Artillery
Normandy - 1944.
A British M7 105mm Priest HMC passes by a Humber Scout Car as it moves into position
to support an attack on Caen, Normandy. 8 July 1944.
      See below a little movie (no sound) with British M7 Priests firing near Caen, Normandy, in 26 June 1944. Notice the amount of empty 105mm cartridges being loaded by the English lorries. This logistical nightmare (the British did not use the 105mm caliber) ended in Europe with the replacement of the Priests by Sextons (25 pdr.)

      The M7 was also used in Burma and played a significant part in the Battle of Meiktila and the advance on Rangoon in 1945.
The British Army in Burma 1945
Loading ammunition aboard a M7 Priest 105mm HMC, 7 March 1945
A British M7 Priest 105mm HMC in Burma -  March 1945
     After the Sexton appeared, most British M7s were converted into "Kangaroo" defrocked Priest armored personnel carriers.
Kangaroos, carrying troops of the 7th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,
154th (Highland) Infantry Brigade moving toward their ‘forming up point’ for the start of Operation Totalize
      The United States Army assigned M7 105mm HMC to every armored division, each operating three battalions of M7 vehicles. They were used in all War Theaters since their manufacture in 1942.
M7 of the 1st Armored Division is being unloaded at Algerian Docks
November 9, 1942
M7 Priest at Sciacca, Sicily - 1943
D-Day preparations. M7 105mm Priest HMC equipped with full wading gear
waiting in Portland, England - 1 June 1944.
A M7 105mm Priest HMC with ammo trailer having trouble
getting into fire position somewhere in Sicily, 1943.
A M7 105mm Priest HMC of the 4th Armored Division
Coutances, Normandy 1944
A M7 105mm Priest HMC from 79th Infantry Division passes passes a
Jeep Patrol in Wissonbourg - France - 15 december, 1944.
Crew of a M7 105mm Priest HMC from 6th Armoured Division swabs
the howitzer's barrel after a supporting fire action - Brest - late Summer 1944.
    During the Battle of the Bulge, each U.S. armored division had three battalions of M7s, giving them unparalleled mobile artillery support for the Allied troops as they moved eastward toward and into Germany.
M7 105mm Priest HMC lead a M3 haltrack in the liberationof  the City of Luxembourg. December, 22 - 1944

M7 105mm Priest HMC from 4th Armoured Division crossing a pontoon bridge
across the Rhine - Hanau, Germany - 28 March, 1945

A column of M7 105mm Priests HMC 11th Armoured Division
rolls into burning Obernust - Germany, April - 1945.
29th Marines hitch ride on M7105mm Priests  moving along
a coastal road near Ghuta Village Okinawa, April 1945

M7 Priest negotiating in muddy ground on a river bank
Luzon - Phillipines, 1945.

  • M7: The first M7s produced were based on modified M3 Lee medium tank chassis. To maintain a low silhouette, the howitzer elevation had to be restricted to 35°. In May 1942, after only a month of production, the vehicle was altered to increase its ammunition stowage from 57 to 69 rounds. This was achieved by placing seven rounds on the left wall and five on the right. The M7 also went through a fairly rapid shift from being based on the M3, to having more commonality with the M4 Sherman. The first major example was an adoption of the M4's three-piece housing, single-piece casting and heavy-duty bogie suspension. In British service, some M7s carried a radio set, which took the place of 24 rounds of ammunition.
M7 (early) in M3 chassis. Notice the 3 piece front transmission cover, the
headlights in high position, no armor plates in the sides of ammo racks
 and the shallow pulpit, with 1 segment

M7 (mid) in M4 chassis, but with M3 bogies. Notice the one piece front transmission cover, the 
headlights in high position, armor plates in the sides of ammo racks
 and the shallow pulpit, with 1 segment.
  • M7B1: Completing the shift, the M7B1 was fully based on the M4A3 Sherman chassis. In total, 826 M7B1 were produced from March 1944 to February 1945.
M7B1 (late) in M4A3 chassis, with heavy-duty bogies. Notice the one piece front transmission cover, the 
headlights in low position, armor plates in the sides of ammo racks
 and the deep pulpit, with 2 segments.
  • M7B2: During the Korean War, the limited elevation of the howitzer became noticeably problematic. 127 M7B1 were modified with raised howitzer, to permit an elevation of 65° to increase the effective range of the gun. The machine gun pulpit also had to be raised to permit a 360° firing arc.
M7B2 with M4A3 chassis, with heavy-duty bogies. Notice the raised howitzer,
one piece front transmission cover, the  
headlights in low position,
different front armour plate
 and the deeper pulpit, with 3 segments.

  • Kangaroo Defrocked Priest: As one part of the Allied effort to capture Falaise and break out from the Normandy beachhead, 72 M7s had their main guns removed in the field for service as armoured personnel carriers and were first used in Operation Totalize. These field modified vehicles were referred to as "Defrocked Priests", "Unfrocked Priests" or as "Holy Rollers". The work was done in one week by 250 personnel from 14 British and Canadian Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer units. 36 vehicles each were allocated to the 4th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Division and the 154th (Highland) Brigade of the 51st (Highland) Division, which led the attack.
Kangaroo APC "defrocked Priest" - vehicle number 1 of the 1st Battery, Able Troop, 13th Field regiment (RCA)
3rd. Canadian Infantry Division, in August, 8th, 1944 - France - Operation Totalize.
Panzerserra's model kit in 1/35 scale

       A total of 3,489 M7s and 826 M7B1s were built. They proved to be reliable weapons, continuing to see service in the U.S. and allied armies well past World War II.
Korean War
      M7 Priests remained in use during the Korean War, where their flexibility, compared to towed artillery units, led the U.S. Army on the path to converting fully to self-propelled howitzers. The limited gun elevation of the M7 (35 degrees) hampered its ability to shoot over the tall Korean mountains, so 127 M7B1s were modified to permit the full 65 degrees elevation in a model known as the M7B2. After the Korean War, many of these were exported to NATO countries, notably Italy and Germany.
M7B1 105mm Priest HMC from B Battery, 300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion  - X Corps
firing in the field - Korea  1 July, 1951.

A M7B2 105mm Priest HMC being tested in United States,
before being sent to the Korean Front.
Israeli M7 Priests
Israel acquired a number of M7 Priests during the 1960s and employed them in the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. In the last conflict, three M7 units, the 822nd, 827th and 829th Battalions in the IDF Northern Command, supported the occupation of the Golan Heights.
M7 105mm Priests HMC from Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in parade
M7 105mm Priests HMC from IDF firing in the Yom Kippur war.

West German M7 Priests
    The new West German Bundeswehr received 127 Priests as its first self-propelled artillery vehicle. They entered service in 1956 and were used until the early 1960s. One surviving vehicle is now shown at the Deutsches Panzermuseum Munster (German Tank Museum Munster).
M7B2 105mm Priest HMC in West German Bundeswehr colors
My project:
    Years ago, I found these photos on the Internet when I was researching American armored dozer blades.
M7 105mm Priest HMC with M1 dozer blade
 Grand-Place, rue de Mons - Braine-le-Comte - Belgian. 3 Septembre 1944,
Same M7 105mm Priest  above, left side
    And as I like rare things, the pics were archived for the reproduction of an armored vehicle with these characteristics. I present to you this M7 105mm Priest, with a dozer M1 blade. For this project, I will use a scrap of an old Italeri kit (in which I will make many modifications) and use a M1A1 blade left over from an Academy M4A3E8 105mm Marines dozer kit.
The awful box art of Academy kit (#13207)
...and with misinformation: the dozer is the M1A1 model, not M1.
   I will do the same adaptation as I did in the M4A3 Marine dozer kit, which I presented in this Bunker. I will not reproduce exactly the vehicle of the photo, but its main features. 
    I did not want to EXACTLY reproduce the vehicle from Belgium, but I wanted to show the possibility of this type of vehicle.
      Well ... made the presentation of the concept, let's to the party !!!

The project profile:


M7 Priest (without dozer blade)
Self-propelled artillery
Place of origin                    
United States
Service history
Used by
U.S. Army
Argentine army
Austrian Army
Belgian army
British Army
Canadian Army
French Army
Israel Defense Forces
Italian Army
Norwegian army
Pakistan Army
Philippine Army
Philippine Constabulary
Taiwanese Army
Bundeswehr (W. German Army)
Yugoslav People's Army
Production history
Pressed Steel Car (M7B1)
Federal Machine and Welder (M7)
April 1942 - July 1945
No. built
M7: 3489
M7B1: 826
M7B2: 127 converted from M7B1
M7, M7B1, M7B2
23 tons
6.02 m
2.87 m with sandshields
2.54 m
2.95 m over AA machine gun

12–62 mm
105 mm M1/M2 Howitzer
69 rounds
1 × 0.5 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun
300 rounds
Ford GAA (M7B1)
340 or 400 hp (respect.)
Vertical volute spring
Operational range
193 km
39 km/h on road
24 km/h off road

The kit:
      As I said before, the host kit will be a scrap of the Italeri kit (from 1978) Priest (# 206) and another shelf-queen of my closet, a very good resin accessory from Legend Products: M7 Priest stowage set (#LF 1157):
The Italeri M7 Priest box art

The scrap kit and the Legend Products  accessory set (#LF 1157).
     And of course, the Academy's dozer blade described above:
Plastic spare parts for the future M7 dozer  HMC
Academy M1A1 dozer blade

I reproduced in plasticard with 0,5mm the dozer's blade arm for the VVSS suspension
because the Academy part has the support for the HVSS suspension.

Testing the M1A1 dozer blade adaptation on M7 chassis.
Notice the headlights, that were transferred to the upper portion of the front armour.

The Italeri kit had the deep pulpit, but the M7 of the photo featured the early (single-segment)
pulpit version. I cut in the kit and made the necessary corrections ...

After the surgeries, primmer: left side

Primmer: right side
     As usual, I like to make a guide or a drawing to the colors and markings of my kits: Meet my newest girl: "LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade. 2nd American Armored Division; 14th Field Artillery - Baker Battery - Gun n.5. In duties at Carentan, France, in 12 June 1944.
      First of all, shades of olive-drab. Notice the shinning areas with Pledge, to prevent silvering in the decals...
Olive-drab in the Priest and chrome-silver in the blade

I love olive-drab!!

      The resin parts from Legend Productions:
Legend box kit
      And the (very well) casted resin accessories.The bad news is the immense amount of resin to be removed from the injection bars. This is a job for my beloved old Dremel and his cutting blades, always a risk to my poor and precious fingers (May the Gods of Resin and Surgery protect me !!)
Legend Productions stuff: very good indeed!!

A tip to cut these huge resin blocks: segment the block with steel disk...

...and use the airbrush tool as a lever!

Just leverage from there to here and ...

Crack!!  Bye-bye blocks of resin...

The scalpel can also be used to cut burrs and edges ...

And the Dremel's abrasive tool makes the final planing of the base of the part !! Piece of cake!!!

Final grinding is performed with my sanding base

Final aspect...

...and testing in the Priest's rear deck!!!
      After hours of cutting, sanding and grinding, the pieces and resins were primed and painted by hand and brush. Uff ... sorry for missing photos, but this step was exhausting ...
Parts and kit details under painting...

The Priest name LUCKY was donate from my spare parts decal box.
I think it's from a Tamiya's CCKW, if I'm not mistaken.

Decals and accessories!!  The best part!!

Modesty aside, the thing is getting veeeeeery cute !!!
A good result for a lot of old parts together !!!

The Legend stowage set is sinply amazing!!

Now, it's weathering time!!!
      Finnaly, my Lucky Girl was ready for action!! Meet "LUCKY", a M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade belonged to 2nd American Armored Division; 14th Field Artillery - Baker Battery - Gun n.5. In duties at Carentan, France. 12 June, 1944.
"LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade.
2nd American Armored Division; 14th Field Artillery - Baker Battery - Gun n.5.
Carentan, France - 12 June 1944.

A true Lucky Girl!!

Kojak is simply ecstatic!!

"LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade and Kojak (with Rover, the dog)

"LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade - interior view
"LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade -rear view

"LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade - interior view

"LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with M4A3 Sherman "BASTARD" - Dozers!!
M7 Priest, M4A3 and M10 dozer blade... Just missing my M4A1 dozer in the pic!!

M4A1 and M10 dozer, side by side

"LUCKY" M7 105mm Priest HMC with dozer blade.
2nd American Armored Division; 14th Field Artillery - Baker Battery - Gun n.5.
Carentan, France - 12 June 1944.
Thanks for watching, Guys!!

2 comentários:

  1. Two rare things in one build! That really is Scotty in the photo! I'm impressed.
    I wonder if the dozer blade was fitted so the unit could make ramps to increase the elevation without needing outside help? those pictures are gold.
    Very nice build indeed and a Great start to 2020! Happy New Year

    1. Nicholas ... thank you very much for your input and encouragement.
      The idea of using the blade to make a gain in raising the weapon is great, but I think the main reason was to help open the way, whether in the hedges or the alleys of the villages destroyed by battle ... Again, thank you very much , mate...