by: Rodger Cole [ ]
Older than many of the modelers building it today Italeriís 1/35 M7 Priest has fairly well stood the test of time.
Background on the M7 Priest
The M7 Priest was Americaís first foray into the world of fully tracked self propelled, SP, artillery. Early versions used the hull and suspension from M3 Lee tanks, while later models used those from the M4 Sherman. The M7 was nicknamed Priest by the British who thought the AA machine gun mount looked like a Priestís pulpit. This started the tradition of naming some British self propelled artillery after clerical figures, Priest, Bishop, Sexton, etc.
The Italeri kit models a late war M7. Some distinguishing features are the one-piece transmission cover, the VVSS bogies where the return roller is behind the bogey rather than above it, the sides that rise above the ammo storage, and the AA mountís pulpit extends further down the side of the fighting compartment. These are all items that the modeler can fix if they want to take the time and effort.
As far as I can find this kit dates back to the early 80s, though the only date I can find in the box is one from 2002. Apparently Italeri and Testors have both marketed this kit over the years with the only differences being the decals and instructions. The kit has been reissued several times, with the version I have being labeled No. 206. I believe the kit is currently out of production though Iíve seen it in all three of the hobby stores in my town.
While not perfect the kit does make an enjoyable build. There are a number of mold marks and seems that need to be corrected. I wouldnít recommend it for a beginning modeler because of some of the small finicky parts that need to be assembled, especially on the large gun.
Comparing it to a Tamiya kit from the same period I find the Italeri is better in some respects, worse than others. The suspension can be made to operate, so that it is a good kit to put into a dio where the ground is going to be uneven. I found the detail quality, type of plastic used, and general kit to be the equal of many Tamiya kits Iíve built. One area where the Italeri might not be as good, at least for beginners, is where Tamiya might mold an item in a single piece, Italeri might use three, four, or even more pieces. The fighting compartment is a good example of this where you have to carefully glue at least six pieces together to form this compartment. Unfortunately I only have two hands and ten fingers so this was a bit of a challenge to me. Fortunately the seems on the model are where seems would be on the original so itís not too hard to make them look right.
There are three areas where the Italeri kit is really inferior. The tracks are horrible. They are VERY stiff and hard to work with. Though I havenít experienced it myself, I used tracks from a Tamiya Jumbo on my kit, I understand other modelers have found that the kit tracks are so tight they may snap the drive socket or idler wheels. I recommend using other tracks if possible. The kit figure is a joke. The pose is stiff and unrealistic, and the detail is very poor. It is similar to Tamiya figures from the early seventies. Junk it at once. Finally the decals, at least on my kit, were very fragile. Each time I tried to transfer them to the model they tore. I used some Tamiya decals I had laying around.
The instructions were usable, though below the quality Iíve come to expect. Several places I had to look closely at the instructions and read them several times before I could understand them. Also Italeri has put the parts on the sprue in no discernible order. The instructions at least have symbols, diamonds, square, or circle, showing you which sprue the part is on. This is in comparison to Tamiya kits where the parts are numbered A1, B2, C3 for example, showing which sprue. Paint colors are given in either Humbrol or Testors paint numbers.
Altogether I enjoyed making this kit. In fact after finishing it I immediately arranged to get another kit in order to backdate it to the earlier 1942 British version. I plan to use the bogies and three-piece transmission cover from the Tamiya M3 kit. My scores are in comparison to newer kits on the market. For itís time I feel this was probably a very advanced kit. Since itís the only model Iím aware of to make this very important Allied vehicle, I recommend this model.
For reference I used U.S. Self-Propelled Artillery in action, Armor number 38 from Squadron/Signal publications and the website AFV Interiors.
Copyright ©2019 text by Rodger Cole [ ]. All rights reserved.
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