The howitzer motor carriage M7 Priest was an important self-propelled artillery piece in the U.S. arsenal. It was based on the M3 chassis and carried a 105mm howitzer and a crew of seven. It was nicknamed the Priest by the British because of its distinctive machine gun pulpit.
The M7 Priest, based on the M3 Lee chassis, underwent numerous changes during the production run of 3,490 vehicles between the spring of 1942 and spring of 1945. These changes were introduced throughout the manufacturing process, and some vehicles were upgraded during maintenance in the field, so while there are some distinctive "markers" that separate early, mid, and late versions, there are also features that were more fluid in their appearances and may be seen in one mid version M7, but not in another one. The follow-on M7B1 was based on the M4A3 Sherman hull and superstructure, and, produced in limited quantities, did not see much action in Europe.
These rolling changes make research a bit challenging. The most significant features of the late M7 were the pulpit with the standardized lower extension that provided more stowage space, raised return rollers on the suspension units, a different configuration for the interior bulkhead wall, baskets atop the rear stowage boxes, rear overhang without the notch out of the lower portion, an exhaust deflector grate, and elimination of the pair of gas fume vents on the engine deck. The lights are also lowered from the top regions of the front armor.
The main differences between the early M7's and the M7-B1 were the switch from the M3 Sherman chassis with the R-975 to the M4 Sherman using the Ford GAA V8 engine with 500 horsepower from 1100 Cubic Inches. The primary reason for the change was the ability to go from a 35 to a 65 degree elevation for the 105 Howitzer. The V-8 set lower in the hull allowing lowering the M2-A1 Howitzer to achieve the goal of a 65 degree angle. Some of the low profile was lost but it was agreed that it was worth it. The 105 had a muzzle velocity of 1,550 feet per second and a range of 7 Miles. The machine gunner's pulpit was also raised accordingly to allow for a clear field of fire for the machine gunner. This particular M7-B1 is in beautiful condition as you can see from the photos and has a completely rebuilt GAA V8 engine.
This is a perfect full ground up restoration with NOS engine, tracks, bogies, etc. A true one of a kind very rare tank. This vehicle is very rare and seldom seen in collections today. It essentially is an open topped Sherman tank complete with an anti-aircraft 50 cal machine gun.
- Price : $400,000
- Location : North Central Indiana.
More information and pics at: www.armyjeeps.net