M7 (Priest) Self-Propelled Gun (SPH)
The M7 Priest received its nickname from the pulpit-style cupola fixture and proved an excellent development of the M3 Lee Medium Tank.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The M7 "Priest" (known formally as the "105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7") was the principle mobile artillery system for Allied ground forces throughout World War 2. She was designed to support armored actions in all theaters of the war as her tracked qualities could be put to good use wherever she was needed. Often times giving way to her more popular counterparts like the M4 Sherman, the M7 Priest was no less in value when it came to finding success on the elusive fronts making up the Second World War - her 105mm main gun supplied a much-needed punch to American, British and NATO actions during her tenure. The British fielded their own slightly modified version of the vehicle and the Canadians developed an armored personnel carrier from the base design. Beyond her actions in World War 2, the Priest lived a long and healthy operational life, ultimately seeing extensive combat in the upcoming Korean War (1950-1953). Early M7 Priests were based on the chassis of the M3 General Lee while the chassis of the M4 General Sherman medium tank was soon adopted. By the end of World War 2, the M24 Chaffee Light Tank became the standardized Priest form.
The M7 Need and Its Development
The need for a self-propelled artillery system proved ever apparent since the beginning stages of World War 2. The Germans were quick to acknowledge this need and developed obsolete and even captured systems to fit the bill - usually just mating a powerful field gun or tank-killing weapon to an improvised superstructure atop a proven track-hulled system. Perhaps the only difference between the parties involved was in doctrine - the Germans choosing to field their self-propelled artillery systems in a direct fire role while the Allies generally kept their systems behind the front lines in the indirect fire role.