DML M7 Priest Kit Review
(Thanks Simon Bell)

First published in the Decmeber 2010 AMMS Brisbane newsletter

This is my first attempt at a kit review, so if I get things wrong or mixed up, please excuse my lack of experience or knowledge on the subject.

When I first heard that Dragon were going to release a model of the Priest, I could not wait to get my hands on one. Being one of Dragon’s latest releases meant that it had to be so much better than anything from the past. Up to now only Italeri and Academy have modelled the Priest – it was up to Dragon to put things right.

I sometimes baulk at the cost of a kit these days. Gone are the days when you paid about $50.00 with all you need in it. Generally at least, when you buy a Dragon kit you do get value for money. For the extra money paid there is no need to buy after-market unless you really have to, but then some people are like that. I prefer to build out of the box.

On one of my regular (very often) visits to the local hobby shops – they must get sick of the sight of me, but it is my only option to buy as I don’t have Internet access – I spied a Priest lurking in the aisles. Foregoing any bad flashbacks to my Catholic upbringing I obeyed my inner demons – MWMBO (Me Who Must Be Obeyed) – and bought the kit. I don’t usually build straight away – just put another box on the pile until I get the urge, but I like to open up and see what’s in the box.

Seeing that Rob is always looking for things to put in the newsletter, I thought I would give it a go and write a kit review. The Priest seemed an ideal choice. This won’t be an "as I build it" review but more so one that may inspire me to become a better modeller. I’m going through a bit of a modelling funk at the moment and I thought if I put pen to paper I might be able to finish a kit and show it off as something that I can say "I built this". I suppose the old saying "It’s a hobby, don"t let things become a chore" applies more so than ever.

We modellers must be a fickle mob. Any new item that becomes available on the market we either sing its arrival or shoot it down in flames. Sometimes it’s a case of "I’ve got to have it, no matter the cost". The box top artwork of a kit can sometimes make or break the decision to buy or not to buy. Spending so much on a kit, you sometimes ask yourself "Is it worth it?". Dragon kits are normally illustrated by Mr Volstad and he has been painting military subjects for a very long time now. His depiction of the Priest is a work of art.

An average military modeller such as myself should not have any problems assembling and painting their model of the Priest. It doesn’t seem to be over complicated like some of Dragon’s were such as some of their recent releases of German military vehicles. The box states that there are about 260 parts needed to build the kit.

This compares with some other kits from Dragon that require 600-800 or more parts to finish a kit. Dragon do go overboard sometimes, like with their Sherman kits, you end up with a lot of parts that aren’t used being put away in the spares box. Even though the Priest is based on the Sherman chassis, there isn’t much left over in this particular kit. To be fair, a lot of those 600-800 parts were track links, and the Priest has DS styrene tracks - Rob

The parts diagram on the cover page shows a minimum of blued off areas. It seems to be more of a quick build of a one – off kit just to keep the Allied modellers happy. Will Dragon release other versions of the Priest? Only time will tell. It’s about time they catered to the needs of the Allied modeller (eg M24 Chaffee or Sherman Jumbo) – there can’t be too many more German models left to kit up. The war wasn’t fought by one army after all.

The build instructions are clear and uncluttered, with 12 steps needed to finish the model. Due to the low parts count building up the model should not present too many problems for an average armour modeller like myself. In the first few steps you begin putting together the bogies and wheels, transmission and housing, followed by the rear internal wall of the fighting compartment and the back end of the vehicle.

The next few steps would seem to be the most challenging. To make things easier keep the gun assembly separate until you assemble and paint the rest of the interior first.

On looking at the instructions much more closely, is part C3 positioned correctly or should it be put under the floor (part A5) to secure the gun assembly in place? The build goes on by finishing off the fighting compartment, adding the front end and detailing the engine deck. The last few steps involve putting the sides on with the front armour plate to square it all up, adding the wheel assemblies, air cleaners and tool boxes. All the small parts can be left to the last but the most important detail is the one that gave the vehicle its name – the machine gun and pulpit ring.

The painting and markings guide depict three M7 Priests in US Army from the latter stages of the war in Europe. All are painted in the standard overall olive drab. If Dragon decide to release other versions of the M7 Priest an early one in British service from the North African campaign in three tone desert camo would be eagerly anticipated by many Allied armour modellers. The ideal thing that Dragon could do would be to make a figure set to crew the Priest in a suitable diorama setting.

In conclusion, writing this review has helped to clear my head and undo some doubts in my mind. If it makes me a more confident modeller, I’ll be a lot less anxious about my ability. Is it true, your next model is always the best one?

Happy modelling.