Bolt Action M7 Priest Self Propelled Gun

As the M7 Priest was one of the kits that didn't make the cut for the tank themed week, I thought I added it to this latest bunch of tank reviews, especially as he fits the Gentleman's War theme.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

The M7 Priest SPG and the next tank we will cover (the Hummel) are both made to order kits by Warlord Games - this does not mean they are Mail Order exclusive, it is most likely something that your local gaming store has to order in and it might not come in a boxed set with printed artwork, but a neutral packaging. As I had this kit for a long time (and this review is in draft since 2018), mine came wrapped in bubble wrap with a sticker on it. The RRP of this resin and metal kit is 26,50 to 30 GBP, depending on the variant.

The M7 Priest was used by US American, British and British Commonwealth forces and Warlord Games covers this by additional variants with a second version of the hull as well as different crews.

Bolt Action M7 Priest Self Propelled Gun Western Desert Bolt Action M7 Priest Self Propelled Gun NW Europe / Italy Bolt Action M7 Priest Self Propelled Gun Burma / Italy

Almost 4,500 units of the 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage (HMC) M7 were produced by the United States and saw service with the US forces, British Commonwealth and other nations after World War 2. The US Army declared the need of a self-propelled artillery vehicle to support armoured operations, and with the  information gathered around the use of vehicles like the T19 HMC, they decided to build a full tracked and armoured artillery vehicle using the M3 Lee chassis, mounting an M2A1 105mm Howitzer. The British ordered 2,500 units to be delivered by the end of 1942 and further 3,000 units by the end of 1943 - as you will notice from the information above, this order was never fully completed. Especially as "only" about 3,500 units based upon the M3 Lee were produced, the remaining ~850 units were build using the M4 chassis, as the M4 Sherman replaced the M3 and the M4 was a development of the M3, receiving the designation M7B1. The M7 was later replaced by the M37 105mm HMC, but that was after World War 2.

The 105 HMC M7 received its British nickname Priest for the reason that it was said that part of the of its superstructure was to resemble a pulpit, and the smaller QF-25 pounder SPG by the British was called a Bishop. Other artillery vehicles received the names Deacon and Sexton. And the M7 Priest was heavily in use by the British, seeing service in the North African campaign among others with the Eight Army, and later in Italy. During Operation Overlord the British and Canadians made use of the M7 and later in the Battle of the Bulge each US armoured division hat three battalions of M7s. It was even used in the Pacific theatre, during the Burma campaign, New Guinea and later in the Philippines. The M7 Priest would be further in service during the Korean War, yet about 130 M7B1s were modified to provide a higher gun elevation (needed to shoot over the tall Korean mountains) and would be known as M7B2. After the Korean war many of the M7s were exported to allied NATO Countries, like Italy and West Germany (marking the first SPG of the new Bundeswehr in the 1950s) and was in service beyond NATO with Israel in the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War.

As mentioned above, mine is an older release, which means it came without a packaging, simply in bubble wrap, covering the resin parts of the hull and the two track sections, along with a small zip lock back for the additional parts of the main gun, MG turret and crew. This was prior to the release of the resin handling leaflet, I assume that you'll get one of these with it nowadays.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

Overall, a clean cast. I just needed to cut off / clean some of the casting aids and did a dry-fit if the pieces would align. Usually, Warlord Games marks the inside with some info like left or right, so you know which pieces go where, with the resin parts. I had no problems with warpage. If you do, a brief bath in hot water will give you the chance to align them with the hull. I scored the insides of the bonding surface to create a rougher surface for the super glue to attach to. You don't need to do that; I do this on larger flat surfaces increase bonding.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

Most of the metal parts are easy to allocate, especially if you have built a few of these tanks (in general, but M4 experience helps even more), so I added the tows, the MG ring with gun and the upper blind for the driver.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

The most challenging part was the main gun, adding the handles / cranks to it, as you have small bonding surface and you have to look up the instructions to see, what goes where.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

The towbar in the back is easy, and fortunately this is one of the older kits, that comes with a diagram on the website, that helps you to see how the interieur / details are set up. That helped a lot. Interesting to see, that the M7 hull shown in the diagram, is different one to that in this kit, as it doesn't come with tarp.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

As mentioned above the M7 is built upon the M3 Lee/Grant chassis, and it is pretty much the size of the M3 and M4 vehicles.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

Here we have the final built of the 105mm HMC M7 Priest, in this case without the crew.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG

And another shot of the vehicle including the crew. This is an US American tank crew, depending on your theatre of war you should choose a different set (British/Canadians), for example the Western Desert, Burma/Italy or NW Europe/Italy.

Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG Bolt Action - M7 Priest SPG


A very clean kit. Casting was very smooth and without bigger problems. No bubbles, no defects on the resin, only minor warpage on the tracks, which can be taken care of with filler. The aspect that in the meantime they added further variants with different crews, so you can grab the one you need / like right away, without having to invest further money for an upgrade set is properly done as well.

The price seems fair for a resin kit and even if it is not hard plastic, it is not that difficult to assemble. With that many options to go with, I still have to decide which project, I will add this SPG too. With my 8th Army I already have the Bishop, and with my Allied Late War project, especially as it is built around Northern Europe / Northern France, it would perfectly with the Bulge. Warlord Games offers for the German vehicle crew in winter kit, for the US Americans, there is no option like that, but I could probably convert them from the winter anti-tank gun crews (would need to remove the backpacks etc.). But maybe I'll go with a closed tarpaulin and lots of stowage - similar to this by Warren's models.

Beyond that, even if it is resin, it provides a proper starting point for a few field conversions, as usual you find a lot of those gathered by Panzerserra. He shows pictures of M7 Priests with wading gear from the Normandy landing, pulpits and all kinds of stowage, even with a small trailer. He converted his M7 priest inspired by a vehicle with dozer blade, that was in use towards the end of the war in Belgium.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

Posted by Dennis B.

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