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Dragon 1/35 scale M7 Priest (midproduction)

Officially known as the 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7, the self-propelled artillery piece was dubbed Priest by the British army because of its pulpit-like machine-gun mount. The moniker is in keeping with church-themed artillery names such as Deacon or Bishop.
RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR
Kit:No. 6637 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$49.95
Manufacturer:
Dragon, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322
Pros:
High level of detail
Cons:
Some fragile parts; fit issues; instruction errors
Comments:
Injection-molded, 294 parts (4 photoetched-metal, 2 metal, 4 vinyl), decals
FSM-NP1110_17s
FSM-WB1210_29
FSM-WB1210_31
FSM-WB1210_32
FSM-WB1210_33
FSM-WB1210_34
America’s first fully tracked self-propelled artillery piece, the M7 arrived in time for the Allies’ push against Axis forces in North Africa. Now, Dragon’s Priest arrives with a rifled metal barrel, metal braided cable, photoetched-metal fret for screens, DS tracks, and markings for three vehicles.

Building a multipiece cannon is always a challenge. The instructions do not clearly show where Part A9 goes; in the drawings it looks like it is fixed to Part C16. Looking at photos helped me properly place the part: Place the T between the ends of parts A13 and A43. The gun shield has very weak attachment points, so handle it with care when placing it in the vehicle.

The hull build had no major issues outside of an instructional error in which parts B37 and B38 are switched. The ammo bins have just a few open spots, which limits what you can do with them. Decals are provided for the tubes.

With the running gear in place, I used a hair dryer all around it to tighten up the tracks before I painted them. Be careful not to overdo it, as the idler axles are weak and will bend or break off. I painted the tracks with Floquil weathered black and rust.

Building the superstructure from so many parts posed its own problems. With no keys to help with indexing or to make a solid join, construction errors can occur. Fitting the “pulpit” to the superstructure was tricky, with three parts and no positive index. The engine deck needed sanding to fit, as it was a bit long, but its detail was superb, with photoetched-metal grilles, vent covers, and tools that really looked the part when finished.

Attaching the ends to the metal tow cable, I found the cable was thicker than parts C23 and C24. Installing that stiff wire on the engine deck was challenging.

I finished the model in Tamiya olive drab and weathered it with Tamiya pastels. The decals went down fine without any solvents. I chose markings for the 73rd Armored Field Artillery battalion.

It’s a good Priest, but with the kit’s vices I can only recommend it to advanced modelers. I spent 30 hours building it. The finished model scales close to the measurements in my main reference, Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles (by David Doyle, Krause, ISBN 978-0-87349-508-0).

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