The M7 Gun Motor Carriage, also commonly referred to as the 'Priest' due to its church pulpit shaped machine gun mount, was a M3 Lee/Grant tank conversion that removed the turret and built a metal superstructure around the main armament, which was a 105 mm M1 howitzer. Also mounted on the vehicle was a 12.7 mm Browning M2HB heavy machine gun, placed on a ring mount next to the howitzer. The vehicle itself was powered by a Continental R-975 engine which allowed the Priest to travel at speeds of up to 38.6 km/h.
The total weight of the vehicle was around 22,670 kg while its total length was 5.79 meters. Manning the machine, the Priest required a crew of at least five men and could carry an extra two passengers on board. Protecting the crew was around 25 mm worth of armor plate at the rear and sides and 50 mm in the front. The Priest also had a 5 speed forward, 1 speed reverse transmission and vertical volute type suspension system.
The M7B1 was standardized in 1943 and is was based on and M4 Sherman chassis. The M7B1 was also slightly lighter than the original M7 and it also had the Ford GAA V-8 engine instead of the Continental. Other than those main differences the M7B1 and the older M7 are more or less similar. The M37 was a version of the priest that was based on the M24 Chaffee chassis and it was powered by twin Cadillac engines. It had modified crew space and ammunition storage.
The Kangaroo APC was designed by Canada and was meant to carry about 20 soldiers. The US Marine Corps came up with a similarly modified Priest and used them for the same purpose. The M7 Priest Observation Post was modified with special radio equipment and had its 105 mm howitzer removed.
The M7 was first created in 1942 and was designated the T32 and it was later accepted the same year. The M7 and M7B1 were both used in the European Theater and North Africa (due to the Lend Lease Program).The Kangaroo APC was first used in the Battle of Caen while the M37 Priest was standardized in 1945. The M7 Priest and M7B1 Priest were used in battles like the Second Battle of El Alamein or the Battle of Okinawa and about 3,000 were ordered by the war's end. M7B2 Priests were used in the Korean War and some of the main modifications included a raised gun mount.
- ↑ http://www.wwiivehicles.com/usa/self-propelled-guns/m7-m37.asp
- ↑ http://www.olive-drab.com/idphoto/id_photos_m7_priest.php
- ↑ http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=109