|DRAGON - M7 Priest - Early Production|
A look at what's in the new Dragon Early M7 Priest!
M7 Priest - Early Production
Manufacturer: Dragon models
Material: Styrene, aluminium, photo-etch & vinyl
Serial Number: 6627
In July of 2010 Rob Matthews did a review of the Dragon M7 Priest Mid-Production kit that had just been released.
The M7 105mm self propelled gun was developed to provide Armoured divisions with mobile artillery. Introduced in 1942, approximately three and a half thousand units were produced which were used extensively throughout all theatres of WWII and beyond including Korea. It was based on the M3 vehicle, mounting the 105mm Howitzer M2 which itself became the most produced artillery piece in the U S WWII arsenal. The distinctive machine gun pulpit ring offset to the right of the vehicle lead to it being christened 'Priest' by its crews and this name has remained.
Both Italeri and Academy have previously provided versions which have met with mixed reactions from modellers. Dragon now provide us with a Mid-Production vehicle which hopefully will rectify many of the inaccuracies present in previous models and provide modellers with a state of the art version of this popular allied vehicle.
Since this kit is very similar to that one, and I know next to nothing about the Priest, I will refer readers to his review of that kit and merely point out any differences in what is supplied in the box. I'm sure members will fill in any gaps on the forum!
There are very, very few differences in terms of kit content between this release and the earlier release of an early production model referred to above. The sprues supplied are mostly identical, the only differences being what is marked as 'not for use', and a few other smaller differences I'll list in a moment. Of course, the marking scheme on the instructions, in terms of included decals are different too, but there is essentially very few new parts on offer.
The largest sprue in the box in the earlier mid-production release was sprue A, that consisted of various parts to make the superstructure of the vehicle. In this release, the two irregular panels that form the side walls of the superstructure are omitted and instead supplied on a new sprue, together with two new stowage/tool boxes for the rear of the vehicle. Whilst these two new superstructure side walls remain almost the same in profile, they now have all their tie-downs on their outer surface removed, along with the 'pulpit' circular protuberance on the right wall, which exists only as a circular disc now on the top edge of the wall. A small number of on-vehicle tools are now marked as 'not for use' on other sprues, and a small transparent sprue from one of the Dragon US Halftrack kits has been included just for the two headlights lenses. The armoured panels that extended the height of the walls of the fighting compartment in the earlier release are still supplied on sprue D but again, are marked as 'not for use', as are the two tool/stowage boxes on that sprue and the two grab rails for the outside wall of the fighting compartment. There is also a tiny new sprue attached to one of the larger ones that has two fibreboard ammunition cases and two shells. Since the two ammunition bins are moulded with some empty spaces, I presumed initially that these could be fitted into the empty spaces at random to offer a slightly different appearance. However, they don't fit, being too large a diameter, and are differently detailed too in that the yellow band near the top of the fibreboard cases is actually a moulded into the two new cases, and although the instructions indicate that the decal number '6' should be applied to represent the yellow stripe on the ones in the bin, that decal sheet has been omitted from this release along with the numbers decal sheet.
That's it. Everything else is the same. Well...almost. In the mid-production model we were supplied with the T48 Rubber chevron tracks in Dragon DS100 tan-coloured vinyl, whereas in this release we're instead supplied with the T-51 rubber block tracks in the same material.
Markings-wise, there are six options on offer, which are detailed below. If you take a look at the scan of the decal sheet you'll see something a little unusual though. One of the schemes on offer has the white Allied star in a circle thoroughly worn, almost scrubbed out in fact. Dragon have very nicely made it so that this effect can be achieved with ease by first using a 'normal' white decal, and then affixing another olive drab coloured decal over this to achieve the scrubbed look. Although I haven't tried it yet, I can't see any reason why it shouldn't look very effective!
Another superb release from Dragon, superbly engineered, superbly moulded, and no doubt a pleasure to build.
My thanks to Dragon Models for the review sample.