Hobby Master HG4704 US M7 HMC Priest Self-Propelled Gun - "Minnesota", A Company, 399th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 8th Armored Division, Bohemia, Spring 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"The only way you can win a war is to attack and keep on attacking, and after you have done that, keep attacking some more."
- General George S. Patton Jr., January 1945
Nicknamed the 'Priest' by British crews because of its pulpit-shaped machine-gun turret at the front, the M7 grew from US experience with howitzers mounted on half-tracked vehicles. The War Department soon realized that a fully tracked carriage was required, and the M3 tank was modified to fill the role. The British received many M7s under the provisions of the Lend-Lease arrangement and first deployed them at the second battle of El Alamein in the summer of 1942. Some measure of their popularity is suggested by the British order for 5,500 to be delivered within one year of their first use. The drawback, at least for Commonwealth forces, was that the howitzer was not standard British issue, and thus required separate supplies of ammunition. Mobile and reliable, the M7 fought to the end of the war and remained in service with several armies as an armored personnel carrier.
This particular 1:72 scale replica of a M7 'Priest' served with A Company, 399th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 8th Armored Division, then deployed to Bohemia, during the spring of 1945.
Length: 3-1/4 inches
Width: 1-1/2 inches
Release Date: February 2012
Historical Account: "The Thundering Herd" - After leaving the Ruhr Pocket on April 13th, 1945, the 8th Armored Division moved east. It participated in the liberation of the Halberstadt-Zwieberge concentration camps near Langenstein (see below). Most of CCB moved on to Halberstadt with some units remaining in Wolfenbttel until the rest of the Division arrived. On 14 April the remaining units of the Division began moving to an assembly area in the vicinity of Braunschweig with CCA going to Wolfenbttel and CCR going to Denstrof.
For the period of April 15th-18th, CCB cleared the area near the Hartz Mountains of remnants of the 11.Panzer Armee while CCA began moving to Seehausen to support the attack on Magdeburg by the XIX Corps. CCR moved from Denstrof to Braunschweig and continued screening the rear areas.
CCB completed clearing resistance from the edge of Forest Heimburg south of Derenburg while units of the 2nd Armored relieved CCR allowing it to move into the vicinity of Stroebeck in preparation for reducing resistance in Blankenburg. On April 19th, CCA was relieved and returned to Wernigerode from Seehausen where it in turn relieved the 330th Inf. Reg. of the 83rd Inf. Div. CCB moved to Westerhausen and CCR moved to Aspenstedt to clear the remaining woods around Blankenburg. The next day the division began to attack Blankenburg. At 1000 hours a 13 plane squadron attacked Blankenburg and immediately afterward the burgomeister was contacted about surrendering after a show of force. By nightfall, most of Blankenburg had surrendered except for a few strongpoints that comprised fanatical resisters unwilling to lay down their arms or soldiers who had not yet received word to surrender.
On April 21st, CCR cleared the woods south of Blankenburg and linked up with elements of the 1st Inf. Div. of the First Army. By April 22nd, the last organized resistance ended with the capture of Gen. Heinz Kokott, commanding officer of the 26th Volksgrenadier Division and brother-in-law of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler.
During the period of April 23rd through May 8th, the division was assigned an area of 90 kilometers long by 30 kilometers wide and went into occupation duty. Some additional cleanup was required of small pockets of resistance as stragglers were found.