|25pdr SP, tracked, Sexton|
|Factory||Artillery & Anti-air Base|
The Sexton, a Canadian variant of the M7 Priest, fielded a British 25 pdr. gun instead of the usual US 105mm howitzer. Widely used among the Commonwealth troops, it kept most of the Priest's characteristics in terms of good rates of fire and mobility, light armor and efficiency against structures and light troops. It can hit unidentified targets, even over obstacles. In any event the sexton should avoid armored targets, as its 25. explosive shell is almost useless against them.
In 1942, the US supplied enough M7 Priest self-propelled howitzers to equip a number of British Army artillery units in fighting in North Africa. The British found the Priest to be an excellent weapon, which gave artillery the same mobility as tank units. However, the Priest used the American 105 mm howitzer rather than the British equivalent, the QF 25 pounder gun-howitzer. Having to supply different ammunition for a few units caused logistical problems for the British Army. The US attempted to fit a 25 pounder to the M7 Priest but the program suffered delays including the destruction of the gun mount on the prototype during the first live-firing exercises.
Meanwhile, the Army Engineering Design Branch of the Canadian government's Department of Munitions and Supply had set about designing a self-propelled version of the 25 Pounder gun. A prototype of the vehicle, which was based on the Ram tank (itself a Canadian adaptation of the American Medium Tank M3, or M3 Lee), was completed on 23 June 1942. Following trials in Canada, the Canadian government ordered 124 vehicles in three batches. The prototype was shipped to the United Kingdom, where it underwent further trials; the vehicle was found to be highly satisfactory, and was given the designation "Sexton" (after the religious custodian) in May 1943. The British government ordered 300 Sextons in the summer of 1943; however, these Sextons were to be built on Grizzly tank hulls (Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman tanks) instead of Ram tank hulls. The Ram-based Sexton was designated as the Sexton Mark I and the Grizzly-based Sexton was designated the Sexton Mark II. British orders for the Sexton II eventually totaled 2,026 vehicles.
Between 1943 and 1945, the Montreal Locomotive Works manufactured a total of 2,150 Sextons for the use of both Canadian and British forces. The vehicle entered service in September 1943. The vehicles were first used in combat in Italy by the 8th Army. Latter Sextons took an active part in the invasion of France and subsequent Battle of Normandy and the campaign in north-western Europe. During the D-day landings a number of Sextons were ordered to fire from their landing craft as they approached the beaches although the fire did not prove to be very accurate. In spite of its confused origins, the Sexton was a combination of proven parts and proved to be a successful design and remained in British service until 1956.
Medium cal. HE shell