M7 Priest

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M7 Priest
M7 Priest at APG.jpg
M7 preserved at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland
Type Self-propelled artillery
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by U.S. Army
Belgian army
British Army
Philippine Commonwealth Army(1942-1946)
Philippine Army(1946-1960s)
Philippine Constabulary (1944-1960s)
Israel Defense Forces
Pakistan Army
Production history
Manufacturer American Locomotive Company (M7)
Pressed Steel Car (M7, M7B1)
Federal Machine and Welder (M7B2)
Produced April 1942–1945[1]
Number built M7: 3,490[2] M7B1: 826[1] M7B2: 127[1]
Variants M7, M7B1, M7B2
Specifications
Weight 50,640 lb (22.97 metric tons)
Length 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)[1]
Width 9 ft 5 in (2.87 m) with sandshields
Height 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m)[1]
9 ft 8 in (2.95 m) over AA machine gun
Crew 5,[3] 7[4]

Armor 12-62 mm[1]
Main
armament
105 mm M1/M2 Howitzer
69 rounds
Secondary
armament
1 x 0.5 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun
300 rounds
Engine Continental R-975 C1
400 or 340 hp
(298 or 254 kW)
Suspension Vertical volute spring
Operational
range
120 mi (193 km)
Speed 24 mph (39 km/h) on road
15 mph (24 km/h) off road

The 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 was an American self-propelled artillery vehicle produced during World War II. 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 and the contemporary Deacon self-propelled guns.

History[edit]

Witnessing the events of the war, 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) also showed that this vehicle would have to be armored and fully tracked. It was decided to use the M3 Lee chassis as the basis for this new vehicle design, which was designated T32.[5]

M7 Priest in Carentan, France

After reworking the M3 by providing an open-topped superstructure, mounting a 105 mm howitzer and, following trials, adding a machine gun, the T32 was accepted for service as the M7 in February 1942 and production began that April. Before production had begun, the British Tank Mission had requested 5,500 to be delivered by the end of 1943, an order which was never fully completed.[6]

While the first M7s were produced for the U.S. Army, supply was soon diverted to support the Lend-Lease program. Ninety M7s were sent to the British Eighth Army in North Africa, who were also the first to use it in battle during the Second Battle of El Alamein as well as their own Bishop, a self-propelled gun based on the Ordnance QF 25-pounder gun-howitzer.[7]

The British did find problems with the M7 though, as the primary armament was of U.S., not British, standard. This meant that the M7s had to be supplied separately, causing logistical complications.[7] It was a problem that was only truly resolved in 1943 on arrival of the 25-pounder-armed Sexton developed by the Canadians on a M3 chassis.[5] Until that time though, the British continued to use the M7 throughout the North African Campaign, the Italian Campaign and even a few during the early days of the Normandy Invasion. It was also used in Burma and played a significant part in the Battle of Meiktila and the advance on Rangoon in 1945. After the Sexton appeared, most British M7s were converted into "Kangaroo" armored personnel carriers.


Battle for Cebu City—American soldiers in M7 Priest enter Cebu City, Philippines

In U.S. service, the M7 was a great success. During the Battle of the Bulge, each U.S. armored division had three battalions of M7s, giving them unparalleled mobile artillery support.[8]

A total of 3,490 M7s—4,267 if including the M7B2[1]—were built and they proved to be reliable weapons, continuing to see service in the U.S. and allied armies well past World War II.

Variants[edit]

Tanks museum Brussels (Belgium)
  • M7
The first M7s produced were modified M3 Lee medium tanks. In order 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 storage from 24 to 69 rounds. This was achieved by placing seven rounds on the left wall, five on the right, and storing the remainder under floor plates. 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 suspension. In British service, some M7s carried a radio set, which took the place of 24 rounds of ammunition.
  • M7B1
Completing the shift, the M7B1 was fully based on the M4A3 Sherman chassis. It was standardized in September 1943, and declared substitute standard in January 1945.
  • M7B2
During the Korean War, the limited elevation of the howitzer became noticeably problematic and it was increased to 65° to increase the effective range of the howitzer. The machine gun mount also had to be raised to give a 360° firing arc.
  • Defrocked Priest
As one part of the Allied effort to capture Caen and breakout from the Normandy beaches, several M7s had their main gun removed in the field for use as armored personnel carriers and were used in Operation Goodwood.[citation needed] These field modified vehicles were referred to as "Defrocked Priests".
Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 in Korea (1951)
  • Kangaroo
A Canadian armored personnel carrier conversion of the M7 for use by British and Commonwealth units in northern Europe.[9] The Kangaroo could carry 20 infantry plus a crew of two. A total of 102 were converted between October 1944 and April 1945. The name "Kangaroo" became generic for all conversions of armored fighting vehicles into personnel carriers, including Ram tank conversions.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Icks, AFV No. 26
  2. ^ Doyle, David. Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles. Krause Publications, 2003, p.353
  3. ^ Bishop, Chris. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2002, p.121
  4. ^ Doyle, p.354
  5. ^ a b Bishop, p.120.
  6. ^ Icks, R. AFV Profile 26 - Hellcat, Long Tom and Priest
  7. ^ a b Bishop, p.121.
  8. ^ Collins, Michael. King, Martin. Voices of the Bulge: Untold Stories from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. MBI Publishing Company, 2011. p.193
  9. ^ Jones, Richard. Tanks. Zenith Imprint, 2004. P.44

References[edit]

  • Doyle, David. Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles. Krause Publications, 2003
  • Bishop, Chris. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2002
  • Collins, Michael. King, Martin. Voices of the Bulge: Untold Stories from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. MBI Publishing Company, 2011
  • Jones, Richard. Tanks. Zenith Imprint, 2004
  • TM 9-2800 Standard Military Motor Vehicles. dated 1 September 1943
  • TM 9-731E
  • TM 9-1725
  • TM 9-1750A
  • TM 9-1750B
  • TM 9-1750C
  • TM 9-1750D
  • TM 9-1750K
  • TM 9-1751
  • TM 9-1825A
  • TM 9-1825B

External links[edit]