Rolling Thunder – 30 Awesome Photos of the M7 Priest Self-Propelled Gun

The M7 is a 105mm self-propelled artillery unit used by the United States in 1943-1945 in all theaters of military operations. It was established in 1942 based on the M3 medium tank as the main armament of artillery tank divisions. The M7 also known as the Priest. This artillery was designed to provide fire support to tank divisions. It proved to be an effective means of field artillery.

The layout of the M7 was identical to the M3 tank. In the stern, there was a motor compartment, in the middle part, there was a fighting compartment, in the frontal part there was a control and transmission compartment. The crew of the self-propelled gun consisted of seven people.

American tank M7 105-MM.  By Jean-Pol GRANDMONT / CC BY 3.0
American tank M7 105-MM.  By Jean-Pol GRANDMONT / CC BY 3.0

The M7 armor protection was designed to protect against small arms and shrapnel. In the first samples of M7, the lower armor consisted of a cast three-section frontal part of a cylindrical shape. Thickness – from 51 to 108 mm, angles of inclination – from zero to 56 degrees. The thickness of the vertical armored plates was 38 mm. Angles of slope – from zero to 10 degrees. In 1944, the cylindrical frontal part was replaced by a wedge-shaped piece.

Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 in Korea (1951)
Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 in Korea (1951)

The heart of the M7 was the 9-cylinder four-stroke aircraft engine from Continental. The maximum power was 400 hp. In the engine compartment, there were four fuel tanks with a total volume of 662 liters. At a mass of 22.9 tons, the maximum speed over an even surface was 34-49 km/h. Depending on road conditions, the range was about 190 km. In the modification of the M7B1 was Ford’s 8-cylinder engine.

As the main armament, the M7 used a 105mm howitzer M2A1 with a long barrel of 22.5 caliber. The gun was placed in the carriage in the frontal part of the hull in the right side. As an auxiliary weapon, the M7 used a 12.7-mm anti-aircraft machine gun M2HB.

M7, M3 And M4 tanks at Schenectady Army Depot, Voorheesville NY
M7, M3 And M4 tanks at Schenectady Army Depot, Voorheesville NY

In the first M7 models, the ammunition set included 57 shells. In subsequent models, the ammunition was increased to 69 shots. The ammunition included high-explosive shells and smoke bombs as well as cumulative projectiles capable of penetrating homogeneous steel armor of 102 mm thickness. Within an hour, the gun could fire up to 100 rounds. The maximum firing range of smoke and high-explosive fragmentation projectiles was about 10 km.

From 1942 to 1943, the British acquired from the Americans 5500 M7 units. They took part in the battle of El Alamein, participated in the landing in Italy and were used for operations in Normandy. In addition, the M7 was used by American troops primarily in the West European Theater, as part of tank divisions.

M7 of the 1st Armored Division is being unloaded at Algerian Docks November 9, 1942
M7 of the 1st Armored Division is being unloaded at Algerian Docks November 9, 1942

In the summer of 1944, the M7 gradually began to be replaced with self-propelled artillery vehicle Sexton. Production ended in 1945.

105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage on Luzon Philippines February 1945
105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage on Luzon Philippines February 1945

 

U.S. 68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion M7 Priest named “Anna”, Anzio 1944
U.S. 68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion M7 Priest named “Anna”, Anzio 1944

 

M7 Priest and US infantrymen advancing on Catman Hill on Leyte
M7 Priest and US infantrymen advancing on Catman Hill on Leyte

 

37th Infantry Division M7 Priest, M1917 and M4 fighting near Baguio Luzon 1945
37th Infantry Division M7 Priest, M1917 and M4 fighting near Baguio Luzon 1945

 

US 25th Division troops and M7 Priest named “Hairless Joe” advancing through the Caraballo mountains on Luzon 1945
US 25th Division troops and M7 Priest named “Hairless Joe” advancing through the Caraballo mountains on Luzon 1945

 

M7 of the 4th Armored Division, Coutances, Normandy 1944
M7 of the 4th Armored Division, Coutances, Normandy 1944

 

M7 Priest “Super Rabbit” from 40th Infantry Division firing on Luzon hill 1945
M7 Priest “Super Rabbit” from 40th Infantry Division firing on Luzon hill 1945

 

M7 Priest in action at Goth Line, Italy
M7 Priest in action at Goth Line, Italy

 

M7 Priest at Sciacca, Sicily 1943
M7 Priest at Sciacca, Sicily 1943

 

M7 Priest from 1st Armored Division, 5th Army in Roccastrada, Italy 1944
M7 Priest from 1st Armored Division, 5th Army in Roccastrada, Italy 1944

 

A camouflaged row of M7s stands on a country road.
A camouflaged row of M7s stands on a country road.

 

Artillery guns blast a Japanese position on Luzon
Artillery guns blast a Japanese position on Luzon

 

Soldier reads newspaper by camouflaged M7 near Carentan, 1944
Soldier reads newspaper by camouflaged M7 near Carentan, 1944

 

M7 Priests of the 40th Infantry Division on Hill 1700 1-2 Philippines
M7 Priests of the 40th Infantry Division on Hill 1700 1-2 Philippines

 

Camouflaged M7 Normandy, 1944
Camouflaged M7 Normandy, 1944

 

British 8th Army M7 Priest Self Propelled Guns near Rome
British 8th Army M7 Priest Self Propelled Guns near Rome

 

M7 Priest 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage Interior
M7 Priest 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage Interior

 

M7 Priest and Sherman ARV M32
M7 Priest and Sherman ARV M32

 

British Priest Italy in late June 1944
British Priest Italy in late June 1944

 

M7 Priest in Carentan Normandy
M7 Priest in Carentan Normandy

 

11h Armored Division M7B1 Priest battery rolls into burning Obernust, Germany April 1945
11h Armored Division M7B1 Priest battery rolls into burning Obernust, Germany April 1945

 

3rd Division M7 Priest At Volturno River Italy
3rd Division M7 Priest At Volturno River Italy

 

M7 Priest 105mm Self Propelled Gun in Action, Luzon Philippines ’45
M7 Priest 105mm Self Propelled Gun in Action, Luzon Philippines ’45

 

M7 Priest in action, 3rd Armored Division Germany January 1945
M7 Priest in action, 3rd Armored Division Germany January 1945

 

3rd Infantry Division Troops and M7 Priest Cori Italy 1944
3rd Infantry Division Troops and M7 Priest Cori Italy 1944

Read another story from us: King of the Battlefield: 26 Pictures of The Hummel Self-Propelled Artillery