Building the Italeri Late M7 Priest
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Driver's Compartment

Detailing the interior is complicated because there are few photos of the interior Priest in action and naturally, none of the contemporary photos of museum pieces (that I came across, at least) have their Priests completely outfitted. They just have—all, most of, or some of—the empty brackets. Likewise, the technical manual photos also only show the empty brackets. One also needs to differentiate photos of M7B1 or later Priests, as well as those in British and Israeli service. However, TM9-731E provides a list of stowage and special tools and general indications where these items were located. So I tried to match up these standard issue items and empty fittings in the photos.

Even though this is an open-topped vehicle, it's difficult to see much detail in the driver's compartment (and even less on the right side) without direct lighting. Nonetheless, the space can use some detailing to add more visual interest and depth.

The differential housing cover is presented as a flat slab. I added a pair of scratch built steering brake covers and the steering brake shaft that lies horizontally across the cover, and some wiring. The drive shaft does not extend from the transmission to underneath the deck, but it can't be seen once the model is completed. I ran some wiring through the area as seen in photos.

On the right side of the transmission of the late Priest was some sort of locker on which a spare jerry can could be stowed.

On the front wall, the kit provides a prominent storage box for the panoramic telescope case and smaller one to the left of it for the protectoscope. The TM says a binocular was kept on the left front plate, so I placed the Eduard piece to the left of the large box. Other details to add include a small shelf under the abbreviated roof, in which maps and manuals were kept; various bolts and fittings around the driver's door that secured the removeable windshield; a compass to the right of the door (scratchbuilt); and anywhere from one to three flashlights on the right wall stub (I pulled one from the spares box).

Also on this wall is a fitting to hold…something. I wasn't able to determine what was supposed to go there, and filled it with a canteen in my Academy Priests. But since this Priest was to be set in winter, I left it empty, presuming the canteen would be someplace less susceptible to freezing.

The biggest challenge in this area of the Priest was trying to figure out how the heck to create the long bolted flanges on the edges of the wall stubs that butt against the howitzer shield. These are very distinctive features of the Priest that are missing from both the Italeri and Academy kits, and from most finished models no matter how well detailed. Viewed from above, they are shaped something like a question mark, which I tried to create with some lead foil. The foil, however, would easily lose its shape while I tried to work with it to determine the correct placement so as to not be too close to the howitzer shield. I finally decided to use some strips of flat and half round plastic, to which I added rows of bolts from Precision Scale. The results are quite satisfactory for me.

The TM stowage list indicates a first aid box was situated on a bracket located on the left wall near the front above the weapon holders. I added a spare box left over from the AFV Club M10 that I used as the donor kit for my M36B1.

On the left sponson, the kit includes the correct instrument panel for the mid to late Priest, which can be improved with the Eduard set. There are two featureless boxes, in which spare .45 clips and possibly hand grenades were stowed. The tech manuals show a couple different sizes of boxes, some appearing to possibly having handles that would suggest drawers. The Eduard set offers latches, perhaps based on a revised box style. Without a definitive image, I put my faith in the photo etch and made some Plasticard covers to suggest bins.

A final note about the front sponsons: The lower hull is taken from Italeri's M4A1 Sherman, and the sponsons require separate extension pieces for the Priest. If you use photo etch fenders, you'll want to cut off the plastic before gluing the pieces in place. Positioning the pieces closer toward the differential case will create gaps on the outer sides where the sponsons meet the hull. I used some thin strips of Evergreen plastic to fill these gaps.

Suspension and Lower Hull

Driver's Compartment
Fighting Compartment
105mm Howitzer
Upper Hull Exterior
Final Assembly, Painting, and Weathering


Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2009 Timothy S. Streeter