‘Priest’ M7B1 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carrier – lot 0129
‘Priest’ M7B1 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carrier
12-1944: Manufactured by Pressed Steel Car Company: Class A restored
This example is discovered by Ivo Sr. in Germany at a scrapyard in November 2005. It was a
great found and also the first Priest Ivo Sr. discovered. In these days BAIV as a company was not existing as BAIV was founded in 2012. So, you can say that this unit was also the starting point of the company BAIV!
The search leading to this discovery took Jr. and Sr. more than a year. With many thanks to Maurice Donckers, Peter Hoss, Hans Georg Krause, Peter Lenaerds and finally Franz Plum (as being the owner) the deal could be closed.
Jr. rapidly start to find out its history.
The Priest was actually not a M7B1 but a M7B2.
Rapidly he found out that after its service in the Korean War it was shipped to France. In 1962 it was modified in by ABS (Atelier de construction de Bourges) in accordance with the M7B2 specification under contract number No 38J 6-1962.
In total ABS modified 127 M7B1 under this contract from the early sixties.
After the modification to M7B2 this Priest went into active service for the German Army in Augustdorf: 3rd Artillery Battalion 215. It became battery canon number A (in total there were 6 M7B2 in battalion A till F).
The German Army had the M7B2 in service from 1958 till 1966. Jr. was lucky to receive a lot of this information from its former crew.
What Jr. also discovered by the original markings on the rear was the original German license plate Y527 522!
From the former crew he received some pictures of the Priest in active service in Germany (See next page).
One of the pictures he also received was a picture of most probably the last parade of the Priest in Augustdorf, most probably also almost the last self-propelled drive of the Priest (below).
According to its previous crew this picture has been taken in 1965.
In 1966 the Priest went out of service and became an attribute at a training range/practice area near Gogh. We believe that the Priest was even driven to this area, because batteries were still installed and there was even gasoline in the fuel tanks! Luckily it never became a hard target training object, then it wouldn’t be in the condition as it was discovered!
In 1974 the German Army announced, under strong public pressure. that the training area must be cleaned, and all wrecks must be removed.
By tender a German company was awarded to take care for this operation (Franz Plum GmbH & Co. KG Alsdorf) and the vehicle was, after many years outside, transported to the Alsdorf scrap yard. Luckily Frans put the vehicle separate and never scraped it!
The Alsdorf Scrap Yard was located very near to a coal mining area. On the Priest (right on the picture) a huge turbine rotor was dropped on the engine deck. Due to this overload the engine bulkhead became unfortunately heavily bended. The Priest was at the Alsdorf yard for more than 3 decades where it was been viewed by many visitors.
One of them. Mr. Peter Lenaerds from Heerlen made during his visit the picture on the right.
After its transport to The Netherlands by the end of November 2005 both Ivo’s and the team started the initial phase of the restoration. First step was a full disassembly and reconversion to an M7B1.
In these days the work was performed as a pure hobby, so time was limited and also the funding was always a problem.
Mid 2008: the hull was finished. Above a picture of the hull after it returned from the shot blasting company.
Next step was the disassembly and restoration of the suspension.
A huge amount of work due to the fact that Phosphor explosives were used as practice
training in Germany. Further the hull was completed including floor and many small accessories.
By the end of 2011 the Priest project, which was at that time almost 30% completed sold to another Dutch owner. Reason for the sale was to get funding for other projects.
As a result of the crisis, the owner ran into serious financial problems, which meant that it had to hand over the project to a museum in the north of the Netherlands.
This team finished the restoration in the period 2013-2014. In 2014 it made its first public appearance at the 70th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
Type & model: Priest M7B1
Manufacturer: Pressed Steel Car Company (Chicago / Hegewisch Station)
Date of acceptance: December 1944
Serial No.: 4376
Main Gun: Howitzer M2A1
Breach ID: M2A1 085921943, Deactivated per Dutch requirements
Original USA Registration: USA 40152839-S
Scope of supply
- Unit is fully restored and very complete,
- Restoration level: Class A, involving the entire unit (disassembly to the last screw, restoration and rebuilt in accordance with factory specifications including good tracks and roadwheels),
- Gearbox and final drives are in very good condition.
- Good engine; Detroit 2 stroke 8V71 diesel replacing the original Ford GAA,
- New made fuel tanks,
- NOS radiator,
- Full new wiring,
- Included all accessories as indicated on the pictures,
- Included will be a full set of documentation (operation and maintenance manuals), restoration photographical log, delivery protocol, and certificate of conformance,
- The 105 mm Howitzer is deactivated according to EU regulations.
In case of additional work as specified by the authorities of the receiving country we will do this at regular costs which will be charged separately,
Scope is excluding:
- Any Ammunition,
- Firing pin and lanyard,
- Radio, intercom, tools (except what is indicated on the pictures), weapons, mines, hand granites etc.
The M7B1 is a so-called HMC (‘Howitzer Motor Carrier’) and was produced only in 1944 and 1945 by the Pressed Steal Car Company. The Priest was constructed on the same platform as the Sherman M4A3 tank.
Therefore, the M7B1 was equipped with the reliable and powerful Ford GAA V8 tank engine. The Ford GAA engine was an American all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC 60-degree V8 engine engineered and produced by the Ford Motor Company just before, and during, World War II. It featured twin Stromberg NA-Y5-G carburetors, dual magnetos and twin spark plugs making up a full dual ignition system, and crossflow induction.
It displaces 1,100 cu in (18 l) and puts out well over 1,000 pound-feet (1,400 Nm) of torque from idle to 2,200 rpm. The factory-rated output was 500 hp (370 kW) at 2,600 rpm. The GAA was one of the largest displacement mass-produced gasoline V8 engines used in land vehicles. The M7B1 was the successor of the famous M7. This HMC was successfully used by the US but also the British Artillery.
Before the M7 was available the American forces used half Tracks as self-propelled basis for the 75mm and 105mm Howitzers (GMC: Gun Motor Carriage) but this was not very successful.
Therefor the US Army decided that they require a Howitzer on a full tracked vehicle in 1941.
Starting with 2 prototypes (the T32) the “Priest” went in production in April 1942. The name Priest is given by the British. Reason; the .50 machinegun pulpit looks unmistakably on a pulpit in a church.
The M7B1 “Priest”
M7B1 Priest came later in production then the M7 and was based on the M4A3 Sherman. It was produced from March 1944 until February 1945 by the Pressed Steal Car Company.
Total No. built was 826.
Major improvement was the implementation of the GAA V8 engine which was without any doubt the best tank engine built in the US during WW-II.
This engine supplied its power via a double clutch plate system and propeller shaft to the front mounted transmission pack. The transmission used was the synchromesh type. It had 5 gears forward and 1 reverse. The synchromesh were actual unnecessarily for the Ford GAA V8 because by this type of engine you already can shift gears at 300 RPM.
The synchromesh type of gearbox was however an absolute must for the also widely used radial-engine Continental radial-engines R975-C1 and C4, which was basically a 9-cylinder air-cooled airplane engine with an output of 450 bhp which was very difficult to drive. That is why the synchromesh transmission was standardized.
The Priest in action
The M7 was used by the American and British armor divisions as Self-Propelled Artillery. The M7B1, and the later M7B2 were basically in WW-II only used by the US forces. Main advantage was flexibility, maneuverability and the Priest could give the tanks of the armored divisions artillery support on every desired moment.
The Priest was in action in North-Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and the entire Western front up to Berlin and proved to be very reliable and successful.
The Priest M7B1 saw first action in the battle of the Bulge. There the M7B1’s proved to be very effective and reliable. Same for the campaign up to Berlin. For this reason, it was also frequently used in the post war period.
In the ‘50s, when the M7B1 was widely used in the Korean war, the elevation of the gun was inadequate to be used in the mountain area. To improve this many Priests have been modified in this period by raising the howitzer and add an extra segment in the pulpit.
This modification was standardized as the M7B2.
Pressed Steel Car Company Chicago
7 (Commander, Driver, gun crew)
Ford GAA, 8 cylinder, DOHC 60°V8 gasoline,
Displacement: 1,100 cu in (18 L)
Power output: 525HP at 2.600 RPM
Torque: 1,100 lbs. (1.400 Nm)
Engine currently installed is a reliable Detroit 2 stroke 8V71 diesel engine
5 forward 1 reverse
25 miles/h (40 km/h) on the hard ground
Main: 105mm howitzer M2A1
3 x .45 Submachine guns
Note: Secondary Armament not included!
105mm 69 pcs.
108 mm max.
Production start: 3/44
Production ended: 2/45
Total built: 826
Level of restoration
Class A restored.
Location: & Collection
Current location of this object is Winkel, The Netherlands.
Local collection is available for this lot. Depending on the destination the Buyer shall obtain an International Import Certificate / End User Certificate. Some of the items listed in the auction may require special licenses or permits.
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.
No item will be allowed to be collected without 100% of all legal requirements being fulfilled.
Margin / VAT
This object is offered by Tracks & Trade pursuant to consignment sale on behalf of a private individual. Therefore, the margin scheme will be applicable, so no sales tax (VAT) over the hammer price will be applicable. For more info see General Conditions of Sale Article 9.
Inspections are open on Friday June 17th and June 24th 2022 but are conducted (if applicable) in Covid -19 safe conditions:
- Inspections will be strictly maximum 1 hour long escorted inspections,
- Maximum of 3 customers per escorted tour,
- Customers must book in prior to inspection,
- Inspection times are 9am 10am 11am 1pm 2pm 3pm 4pm,
- Please note that these inspections might be performed at several locations,
- Inspections for a longer period or outside these hours can be organized for a refundable fee. (Refundable off purchase price of Auction lot).
To make a booking please reply to [email protected] at least 48 hours before the inspection with the following details:
Full Name(s) and contact details and phone number of the people that are coming to inspect. The LOT number(s) and Auction Name that you wish to inspect (items are stored on several locations, and we will need to retrieve them prior to your arrival).
Parts, accessories, and militaria
The batches of spare parts and various accessories are sold as is, stored in the best conditions and without any guarantee of functioning.
Cars and motorcycles, trucks, cannons, and armored vehicles are sold in as is condition , with or without registration.
Parts, accessories, and militaria
The collection of the lots, subject to payment, starting Monday July 11th 2022 by appointment only.
Vehicles can be picked up, subject to payment, starting Monday July 11th 2022 by appointment only.
Handling costs for the removal of the vehicles will, when applicable, be applied at cost.
Arms & weapons
The Auction House will not supply ANY item unless the correct paperwork and licensing – if needed – have supplied in full.
If required and applicable (fire)arms can be made inoperable or permanently disabled by BAIV in The Netherlands as being a licensed Arms & Weapons Dealer Registration Nr. NL20191618779. In this case all relevant cost will be charged to the Buyer in addition and have to be paid in advance in full. Collection by appointment only!
Delivery and Storage
Removal of lots must be completed by Saturday July 23rd 2022 after full payment and 100% coverage of all legal requirements.
No storage fees will be applicable until that date.
Lots not picked up by Buyers before Saturday July 23rd 2022 will be returned to secure storage at Buyer’s expense. In this case storage fees will be applied as follows :
- Parts & accessories: € 25,- / lot / week
- Cars and motorcycles: € 50,- / lot / week
- Armored vehicles, tanks, cannons etc. € 75,- / lot / week
Storage fees are excluding VAT.
General Conditions of Sale
General Conditions of Sale Version 2.0 dated 29-04-2022 are applicable
Bids on internet
The live auction will be broadcast on: www.aution.tracksandtrade.com
- Register for the auction (log in or create an account)
- Bid live.
Please use a computer to follow the live auction!
If any item listed causes offence, or is not correctly or incompletely described, please advise us immediately and we will address your concerns.
Please note this auction date may change due to unforeseen circumstances.
Ian Galliers UK
UK Collector and Restoration Specialist.
The Priest M7B1 is a rare US Howitzer Motor Carrier. Far rarer than for instance the Sherman which is based on the same platform. Further the Priest is great fun to drive because it can easily safely transport 7 people inside its cannon bay.
This specific piece is nicely restored and very reliable. Only 2 remarks are applicable and that is the non-original power unit (GAA is replaced by a Detroit 2 stroke 8V71 diesel engine) and the track wear (approx. 50%).
On the other hand; very positive is that the engine currently very nicely installed and is reliable and easy to maintain because parts for these engines are well available.
Moreover, the price level of the Priest is significantly lower that the Sherman tank. Taking the weight into account it is also a much faster unit than the M4A3 Sherman.
So much more fun for a lower price so therefore the unit is absolutely collectable.
Therefore, a must-have for a serious US armored collector.