The M7B1 armored gun platform was developed using a chassis and running gear similar to the M4 Sherman tank. The Priest’s 105mm howitzer was manned by a crew of seven and protected by one inch thick frontal armor and a half an inch of armor on its sides.
History of the Artifact
The first Priests went into combat with British units in North Africa in 1942. Being a fully American-made gun and vehicle, there were logistical problems with promptly supplying U.S.-made parts and ammunition for the machines. By the Battle of the Bulge, each U.S. Army armored division was equipped with three M7 Priest battalions, which were able to provide devastating mobile artillery support.
The M7 was heavily used in Korea in the 1950s and Israeli forces used Priests during both the Six Day War in 1967 and again during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The nickname Priest was developed by the British, who gave a line of self-propelled artillery vehicles ecclesiastical names. To them, the M7’s superstructure seemed to resemble a priest’s pulpit. Other similar vehicles in the series were called Deacon, Sexton, and Bishop.