You shouldn't have a problem priming the pump. Every pump needs priming when new.
You describe copper piping between pump and tank. I have seen pumps on tanks with a flexible pipe or pressure hose between the pump and the tank.
That short rigid pipe could have contributed to the crack in the pump housing. Pressure shouldn't crack a pump. I would put a flexible pipe/hose between the pump and tank.
It is nice to have a valve on the discharge when you are priming. You can open the valve to add priming water, and then crack it open to let air escape at low pressure. When the pump is clear of air you can close the valve and let the pressure build.