Dragon 1/35 M7 Priest (early production)

KIT #: 6627
PRICE: $66.00 SRP
DECALS: Six  options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart kit

HISTORY

Witnessing the events of the war, US 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.

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.

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 8th 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 25 pounder gun howitzer armed self propelled gun. The M7 soon proved successful and the British requested 5,500 of them, an order which was never fully completed.

They did find problems with the M7 though, as the primary armament was of US, not British standard. This meant that the M7s had to be supplied separately, causing logistical complications. 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 similar chassis. 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. After the Sexton appeared, most British M7s were converted into "Kangaroo" armored personnel carriers.

In U.S. service the M7 was a great success. Each U.S. armored division had three battalions of M7s, giving them unparalleled mobile artillery support.

A total of 3,490 M7s 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.

THE KIT

The Dragon M7 Priest kit has been a great seller and so it was only expected that they produce an early version of this vehicle. The kit has a goodly number of newly tooled bits and pieces just for this kit. As it is an open topped vehicle, there is a full combat and driver's compartment. The kit is blessed with DS tracks and an aluminum forward gun barrel. Photo etch is kept to a minimum and is just for a few screens. As you can see from the parts drawings, just about all the 270 parts on the sprues will be used to build this one. Here is a more complete listing of the features of this kit.

- Newly tooled M7 Priest Early Production q/authentic details
- Newly tooled stowage bins for Early Production
- Newly tooled glacis plate finely produced w/weld seams
- Newly tooled fighting-compartment armor w/accurate details on both faces
- Newly tooled one-piece slide-molded transmission cover w/realistic cast detail
- Newly tooled air filters
- Newly tooled vehicle tools have clasp detail
- Newly designed M2 machine gun pulpit provides full field of fire
- Brand new M2 105mm howitzer w/complete breech
- New rear-hull armor plate w/air filters
- Fully detailed brand new T41 DS tracks
- Hatch and periscope cover can be assembled open/closed
- Aluminum gun barrel w/finely reproduced rifling
- Fighting compartment w/accurate interior detail
- Floor pattern realistically produced
- Transmission w/excellent detail
- Anti-aircraft MG w/gun mount
- Detailed ammunition set included as bonus
- Intricately reproduced gun elevation system
- Fully detailed gun cradle mount w/bolt and support-brace details
- Gun breech made by slide mold
- Shield supports connected to gun also included
- Gun mount w/hand wheels finely reproduced
- Engine compartment rear panel is sharply detailed
- Detailed instrument panel
- Includes driverís controls
- Lower hull made by 2-directional slide molds
- Bolts and rivets delicately represented on hull bottom
- Towing eyes included
- Accurately reproduced suspension
- Suspension bogies w/realistic cast detail
- Idler wheels have delicate detail

There are six different markings options provided.The first three are US vehicles, all from unidentified units. The first, which is the box art vehicle was in the ETO during 1943. Next is one based in the US during 1942 and the third, with the star in a circle, at Anzio in 1943. The next two are British and in desert camo. The first with A Squadron, 11th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery with the 1st Armored Division in Egypt during late 1942 while the other is just listed as A Squadron, same time and place. The sixth option is a French version with the 2nd Armored Division in France during 1944.

CONCLUSIONS

Thanks to the low parts count (well, low for a Dragon kit), it should built rather quickly. Sherman based vehicles are always popular and I can see this one selling well.

REFERENCES

www.dragonmodelsusa.com

June 2012

Thanks towww.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can pick yours up at your local shop or have them order it for you.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note toContributors.

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