by: Bob Kerr [ ]
IntroductionChris “Toadman” Hughes shares his extensive collection of detail photos of preserved and restored vehicles in public places, museums, and private collections through his company, Toadman’s Tank Pictures. The 15th collection of his vehicle photos on compact disc is “Toadman’s 105mm H.M.C. M7. M7B1 and M7B2 Photo Detail CD.” The M7 series was the first fully-tracked howitzer motor carriage produced by the United States. Conceived in 1941 and fielded in 1942, an M2 or M2A1 105mm howitzer was first mounted on the riveted lower hull and suspension of the M3 Lee, and later on a welded M4 Sherman type hull and later trailing arm bogies. It was nicknamed “the Priest” because the raised round .50-caliber machine gun position resembled the pulpit of an Anglican priest.
The Priest self-propelled howitzer made its first combat appearance at El Alamein in British service. It soldiered on through the end of World War II in Allied armies and served with the United States and U.N. forces in Korea. Though production ceased in 1945, variants of the Priest could be found in service around the world through the 1970s. The M7 was based on the M3 or M4, both powered by the Continental radial engine. The M7B1, introduced in 1944, was based on the Ford-engined M4A3. The post-war M7B2 was an M7B1 modified to provide higher elevation angles by raising the gun and subsequently the machine gun pulpit.
ReviewThe CD comes in a slim jewel case with a warning for Macintosh users that the auto-run feature will not work on Mac computers. It gives instructions on how to overcome the problem and get to the goodies. I have a PC in my model room, so the auto-run worked just fine. It opens in your default browser -- in my case that’s Mozilla Firefox --and navigates just like a website, with links to other pages on the CD for comparisons and to Toadman‘s website.
The reason there are comparisons is because Chris has photos of several vehicles of each of the three marks. There are differences between early- and late-production vehicles, foundry markings, stowage and, of course, between the three different marks.
Toadman tells us the pictures on this CD were taken at various public and private locations. The 194 photos of three different M7s are from the American Society of Military History’s “Tankland” in South El Monte, Calif., in 2005 and the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles in 2004. The 12 M7B1 photos of two vehicles were taken at Fort Knox, Ky., in 2006 and Lawrenceville, N.J., in 2005. The 190 M7B2 photos of two vehicles -- including several shots of the engine compartment interior -- were taken at Camp Roberts, Calif., in January 2006 and at the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation in Portola Valley, Calif., in February 2006. That’s a total of 377 photos of varied versions of fair to well preserved M7-series vehicles.
The Main Table of Contents lists the following links:
Introduction and acknowledgements
105mm H.M.C. M7 main table of contents
105mm H.M.C. M7B1 main table of contents
105mm H.M.C. M7B2 main table of contents
The M7 and M7B2 tables of contents further break down to include sections on the superstructure, suspension and fighting compartment details. The M7B1 section does not contain as many photos because many of the details are the same as the M7, but it does a good job of showing the M7B1’s differences from its older sister.
As you may guess, this is not just a walk-around. It is a walk-around, a crawl-around, a crawl-under, a crawl-over and a crawl-into. Like all Toadman CDs I have seen, this CD includes the outside, the inside and the underneath, a part that is not often seen in references. There are lots of detail photos and there are also captions with each photo. Chris does a good job of explaining what is seen in each photo, with many comments aimed especially at the modeler.
ConclusionThis is a great reference for anyone wishing to build, kit-bash, detail or convert the Italeri or Academy M7 kits.
Disclosure: I am listed on the acknowledgements for the CD because I sent Chris some references back when he was compiling it to help him identify details in his photos. Those photos however are not included on this CD and I have no financial interests in Toadman’s Tank Pictures.