WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Peter89 » 15 Nov 2020 18:08

The most important problem with this idea is that the Germans always attacked and never conserved their strength. They even attacked and clinged on to untenable positions when all military sense would advise against it. Unlike the Japanese who refrained from big carrier operations from the end of 1942 until they could rebuild their strength, the German decision makers were not keen to stay on the strategic defense. They were FORCED on the strategic defense.

When the Luftwaffe apparently lost the Battle of Britain and the OKW has cancelled the Seelöwe, the Luftwaffe still sent bombers against Britain, with ever-increasing losses. Between October and December 1940, the Luftwaffe lost more bombers to noncombat causes than to combat causes. 244/140. And those were not the half-trained poor guys of OTL 1944.

So why do we presume that the Germans, despite all we know of their ways of waging the war, would suddenly change their approach to every details of aerial warfare? Especially after a triumphant campaign in the east?

It was stupid of the German decision making authorities that they did not pay attention to the attrition that happened in the glorious campaigns of 1939-1941. Had their success continued into 1942, why would they change their approach?

A new strategy would not imply the same changes in deployment doctrines and production focuses as happened in the OTL strategy.

It is simply not realistic. Overcommitment and Irrational Waste were the hallmarks of the Luftwaffe. The efficiency of their air forces were high when the Allies attacked into well-defended positions and when the Luftwaffe could challange less trained, surprised and numerically inferior forces. The laws of war and attrition were just as true to the air forces as to other services.

What the Germans needed was to convert fuel to trainee experience, improve the airfields and accumulate experience with longer crew survival - meaning attack and defense where it was profitable. However, Hitler never had defense on his mind. He had to be persuaded to allow to build up a defense force for the Reich. Göbbels pushed for more Flaks, a quite useless tool for air defense. Hitler listened to the popular demand of retribution, burning an insane amount of resources for the V-1 and V-2 programs.

These were all quite useless or stupid measures to counter a Wallied air offensive against the Reich, and we have no indication that production numbers alone would change this general attitude.

Also, let's not forget that the Wallies supplied the SU both with materials, parts, avgas and aircrafts. About 18,000 of them. We should add those resources to the Wallied war effort.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Nov 2020 18:57

EKB wrote:
15 Nov 2020 03:39
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
14 Nov 2020 22:02
I spent a fair number of hours coordinating artillery unit air missions with air strikes. The trick was the air guys always want to to get their part done before the intel people could reorient the artillery on the known & suspect AA positions. I suspect that in actual combat we'd had to have slowed down the whole thing to get effective SEAD fires on target.

Did you work with the Weasels from George AFB?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Weasel
No Almost entirely Marine air wing. The last time we were near USAF the squadron commanders PGM bomb managed to land 3000+ meters off target & kill the two laser designator operators. Our FO teams nearby suffered hearing loss, concussions, & possible permanent TBI.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Nov 2020 19:06

Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2020 18:08
The most important problem with this idea is that the Germans always attacked and never conserved their strength. They even attacked and clinged on to untenable positions when all military sense would advise against it. Unlike the Japanese who refrained from big carrier operations from the end of 1942 until they could rebuild their strength, the German decision makers were not keen to stay on the strategic defense. They were FORCED on the strategic defense. ...
I certainly agree in principle here. I am wondering about the air battles over Tunisia, Sicilly, and Southern Italy. Perhaps I'm wrong but it appears in each the Axis or German air forces broke off the battle or campaign due to unsustainable losses for inadequate results. Would you judge they were forced in this decision, or took it in prudent anticipation? Or am I reading what happened entirely wrong & there was no step back terminating each campaign?

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 15 Nov 2020 19:11

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
15 Nov 2020 19:06
I certainly agree in principle here. I am wondering about the air battles over Tunisia, Sicilly, and Southern Italy. Perhaps I'm wrong but it appears in each the Axis or German air forces broke off the battle or campaign due to unsustainable losses for inadequate results. Would you judge they were forced in this decision, or took it in prudent anticipation? Or am I reading what happened entirely wrong & there was no step back terminating each campaign?
You can add in that there was never sufficient fuel for operations to be sustained either. Just the simple act of flying a large bombing raid using twin engine aircraft ate enough fuel that it could only be repeated a limited number of times before there was insufficient fuel to continue and a pause had to be taken to allow stocks to build back up.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Nov 2020 19:19

Fuel, parts, pilots. It all adds up. The fifty or sixty thousand airframes delivered from the factories in 1943 means a lot less in the full context.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Peter89 » 15 Nov 2020 21:07

T. A. Gardner wrote:
15 Nov 2020 19:11
You can add in that there was never sufficient fuel for operations to be sustained either. Just the simple act of flying a large bombing raid using twin engine aircraft ate enough fuel that it could only be repeated a limited number of times before there was insufficient fuel to continue and a pause had to be taken to allow stocks to build back up.
It was worse than that.

Instead of giving up Tunisia and withdraw relatively orderly from Africa (like the Japanese did from Guadalcanal), the Germans opted for maintaining the untenable foothold, partially with with air transport. For the air transport, they pressed untrained crews and instructors to frontline duty. Then came the Christmas of 1942, when they divided their transport units between the Stalingrad airlift and the Tunisian one (200 Ju-52 and 15 Me-323 were left in Italy). The general problem, and my problem with the Luftwaffe numbers (and the multipliers!) is this: the 3rd and 4th groups of the 1st Special Duty Bomber Wing were experienced, good crews. But the 7th and 11th Special Duty Bomber Groups lacked every kind of qualifications for a mission like that one. On paper, they might seem like equal units with the same equipment and same amount of fuel... but in reality, they were one veteran crew with tactical innovations, and another having problems with landing their planes.

This and many more can be found in German Air Force Airlift Operations by Fritz Morzik. (In my opinion, the book is a bit superficial, but contains good data and insight.)
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
15 Nov 2020 19:06
I certainly agree in principle here. I am wondering about the air battles over Tunisia, Sicilly, and Southern Italy. Perhaps I'm wrong but it appears in each the Axis or German air forces broke off the battle or campaign due to unsustainable losses for inadequate results. Would you judge they were forced in this decision, or took it in prudent anticipation? Or am I reading what happened entirely wrong & there was no step back terminating each campaign?
They were forced. The Wallies' edge in the air war in the MTO was clear as day by 1943:
To support the planning and organization of Operation HUSKY, the air intelligence sections were also responsible for identifying vulnerable points, namely road and railway systems, in Sicily that upon destruction would delay enemy movements during the assault phase.68 Using this information, updated primarily by photographic reconnaissance and ‘Y’ intercepts, NAAF and Ninth Air Force flew almost 1,000 sorties between June 18 and 30 against supply areas, terminal ports, and marshaling yards in Sicily and along the west coast of Italy, as well as in Sardinia and Corsica.

Information gathered through ULTRA intercepts, POW interrogations, combat intelligence, target intelligence, counterintelligence, and British ‘Y’-service painted a fairly clear picture of the Axis air force in the MTO. Intelligence analysts were also able to monitor the arrival of Luftwaffe aircraft in the MTO from the other fronts, and the disposition of aircraft within the theater. NAAF intelligence experts were able to depict, with considerable accuracy, the strength, disposition, units, basing, and operational routes of the German and Italian air forces in-theater, providing a substantial advantage to the NAAF planners.

ULTRA intercepts, combined with the ‘Y’-service reports, allowed Allied access to damage reports of enemy airfields and enabled them to determine the effectiveness of their attacks and whether specific airfields needed to be re-attacked. This information also proved invaluable to air interdiction operations. According to Group Capt R. H. Humphreys, senior ULTRA officer of the NAAF, “we had advanced timing of every intention and move of the German air force in Africa and Italy, and as many moves and intentions of Italian forces as fell into joint Italo-German programmes.”
source: THE MEDITERRANEAN CRUCIBLE, 1942-1943: DID TECHNOLOGY OR TENETS ACHIEVE AIR SUPERIORITY? by FRANCOIS H. ROY

The Germans fed their replacement units, their half-trained recruits and their instructors into a battle they had no chance to win.

Later, when they deployed their units to more favorable, defensive duties and lightning raids, they fared very much better. But they were forced into the defensive, it wasn't their choice.

In my opinion, it is hardly unlikely that the "more of everything for Luftwaffe" approach for ATLs could work for Germany. The Wallies held a very clear edge in key areas of decision making, areas where the Germans had little or no progress. Even a 1:1 ratio would result a German defeat. The Wallies also had their failures, like the obsession of bombing cities and unimportant factories, which really downscaled their effectiveness. Also, the whole attack into Italy made no real sense and could have favored the Germans big time, if their strategic situation was better.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Nov 2020 01:45

Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2020 21:07
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
15 Nov 2020 19:06
I certainly agree in principle here. I am wondering about the air battles over Tunisia, Sicilly, and Southern Italy. Perhaps I'm wrong but it appears in each the Axis or German air forces broke off the battle or campaign due to unsustainable losses for inadequate results. Would you judge they were forced in this decision, or took it in prudent anticipation? Or am I reading what happened entirely wrong & there was no step back terminating each campaign?
They were forced. The Wallies' edge in the air war in the MTO was clear as day by 1943:
Thats been my take. Each time from 1942 the Axis air forces leaned forward to support the ground or naval battle they lost & badly.
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2020 21:07
Later, when they deployed their units to more favorable, defensive duties and lightning raids, they fared very much better. But they were forced into the defensive, it wasn't their choice.
Lighting raids and a few choice tactical victories don't win operational of strategically. Killing Col Fetterman or Col Custer does not keep the settler off the great plains.
To support the planning and organization of Operation HUSKY, the air intelligence sections were also responsible for identifying vulnerable points, namely road and railway systems, in Sicily that upon destruction would delay enemy movements during the assault phase.68 Using this information, updated primarily by photographic reconnaissance and ‘Y’ intercepts, NAAF and Ninth Air Force flew almost 1,000 sorties between June 18 and 30 against supply areas, terminal ports, and marshaling yards in Sicily and along the west coast of Italy, as well as in Sardinia and Corsica.

Information gathered through ULTRA intercepts, POW interrogations, combat intelligence, target intelligence, counterintelligence, and British ‘Y’-service painted a fairly clear picture of the Axis air force in the MTO. Intelligence analysts were also able to monitor the arrival of Luftwaffe aircraft in the MTO from the other fronts, and the disposition of aircraft within the theater. NAAF intelligence experts were able to depict, with considerable accuracy, the strength, disposition, units, basing, and operational routes of the German and Italian air forces in-theater, providing a substantial advantage to the NAAF planners.

ULTRA intercepts, combined with the ‘Y’-service reports, allowed Allied access to damage reports of enemy airfields and enabled them to determine the effectiveness of their attacks and whether specific airfields needed to be re-attacked. This information also proved invaluable to air interdiction operations. According to Group Capt R. H. Humphreys, senior ULTRA officer of the NAAF, “we had advanced timing of every intention and move of the German air force in Africa and Italy, and as many moves and intentions of Italian forces as fell into joint Italo-German programmes.”
source: THE MEDITERRANEAN CRUCIBLE, 1942-1943: DID TECHNOLOGY OR TENETS ACHIEVE AIR SUPERIORITY? by FRANCOIS H. ROY [/quote]

I am weak on how the Y Service functioned. Theres a stack of books on the shelf here about ULTRA & Enigma, but the Y Service is a mystery.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Nov 2020 05:03

Peter89 wrote:In my opinion, it is hardly unlikely that the "more of everything for Luftwaffe" approach for ATLs could work for Germany. The Wallies held a very clear edge in key areas of decision making, areas where the Germans had little or no progress
Did Ultra not provide information on German defenses over the Reich? Of course it did. Did this help prevent catastrophes like the Regensburg raid? Of course not. Knowing there's X number of fighters doesn't change tactical outcomes; for that you'd need someone in Blechley saying "Johnny there's someone on your 6!" That's not the kind of intelligence Ultra provided.

You're failing to distinguish different levels of intelligence and their different impacts. Nothing about knowing LW deployments or even airfields gives you the ability to dominate a particular space tactically. Strategic intelligence gives you the ability to match an opponent in the battlefield - assuming you have the resources so to match. It's irrelevant to the circumstance we're discussing - whether the Allies could have dominated the skies over Western Europe post-SU.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Nov 2020 06:25

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2020 05:03
Did Ultra not provide information on German defenses over the Reich? Of course it did. Did this help prevent catastrophes like the Regensburg raid?
But was it a catastrophe? And if so, to whom?

German Aircraft Losses (West and Mediterranean)/USAAF Aircraft Losses (against Germany)

Jul 1943 - 1,013/390
Aug 1943 - 748/418
Sep 1943 - 843/281
Oct 1943 - 725/321
Nov 1943 - 653/247
Dec 1943 - 510/357

With the Flugzeugbestände und Bewegungsmeldungen and a bit of work to determine the operational area, it should be possible to extend that series through December 1944. Of course there are also the British losses, but...
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Nov 2020 07:50

Richard Anderson wrote:But was it a catastrophe? And if so, to whom?
Elsewhere you're arguing that Black Thursday didn't cause a complete bombing halt; I'm with you on that one. But if you're trying to extend this to "Black Thursday was actually good!" you're flying unescorted into swarms of countervailing facts.

The raid alone cost 77 B-17's downed and scrapped for the loss of maybe 38 LW fighters. That's a disastrous exchange ratio of >10:1 in production terms and ~20:1 in human resources. It didn't cause a halt of bombing - plenty to destroy within escort range - but it did cause a temporary stoppage of deep penetration raids. Because it was a very bad thing for the USAAF, not the LW.
Richard Anderson wrote:German Aircraft Losses (West and Mediterranean)/USAAF Aircraft Losses (against Germany)

Oct 1943 - 725/321
We have better data (thanks in part to you); let's look just at dayfighters vs. HB's over the West in October 1943, the month of Black Thursday:

Per Zamansky, LW lost 220-226 single-engine fighters over Germany/France that month.

Per the statistical annex to Bombing the European Axis Powers by Davis (thanks again for that!), 8th AF lost 163 heavy bombers attacking targets in Germany, 10 over France, and 6 over Poland. 12/15th AF lost 19 HB's over Austria. So USAAF lost 198 HB's total attacking Zamansky's "West" in October.

Per your stats (source?) USAAF lost another 527 AC elsewhere, some of which were surely non-HB losses in the West. But let's set those aside for now.

Trading 198 HB's for 220 1-E fighters is a highly unfavorable exchange ratio, even if somehow the USAAF lost zero fighters and light/medium bombers over the West. And the Davis stats don't include bombers scrapped after return.

Bomber Command, btw, lost 154 HB's over Germany alone in October 1943.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 16 Nov 2020 07:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Peter89 » 16 Nov 2020 07:51

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2020 05:03
Peter89 wrote:In my opinion, it is hardly unlikely that the "more of everything for Luftwaffe" approach for ATLs could work for Germany. The Wallies held a very clear edge in key areas of decision making, areas where the Germans had little or no progress
Did Ultra not provide information on German defenses over the Reich? Of course it did. Did this help prevent catastrophes like the Regensburg raid? Of course not. Knowing there's X number of fighters doesn't change tactical outcomes; for that you'd need someone in Blechley saying "Johnny there's someone on your 6!" That's not the kind of intelligence Ultra provided.

You're failing to distinguish different levels of intelligence and their different impacts. Nothing about knowing LW deployments or even airfields gives you the ability to dominate a particular space tactically. Strategic intelligence gives you the ability to match an opponent in the battlefield - assuming you have the resources so to match. It's irrelevant to the circumstance we're discussing - whether the Allies could have dominated the skies over Western Europe post-SU.
Yes, the Allies made mistakes too, but they were able to re-evaulate their approach from time to time. Something that most alternative scenarios tend to forget: even though the Wallies had problematic obsessions, they were able to change their way of conducting the aerial war. The best example for this is how they broke through the Kammhuber line (not to mention the fact they've got the scheme of the line from a spy).

And yes it took them some time until they were able to convert their superior resources into air superiority, but it was only the question of time.

The Wallies changed their planes completely by 1944, overperforming the Germans, while they had to fly almost the same planes as in 1940. The equipment of the planes, the doctrines, the ample of fuel reserves, the fresh and trained pilots, the superior intelligence, etc. all point into one direction: the tactical and strategical situation of the Luftwaffe was doomed by 1944.

Technology was not on Germany's side either. On the contrary; if they continue to resist into the jet age, the Wallies can build up their production faster, they can train more and better crews, and Germany could only lag behind. It was not by mere chance that they invented and produced the A-bomb first.

Even with higher losses, the German production would face a pounding, but the Germans had no way to influence the Wallied production. The same goes for training and transport. The Germans were gradually losing their safe space for their trainings, ferry flights, etc.

And contrary to your statement, the Wallies' intel was good for tactical employment too, like setting up ambushes, so a "hey Fritz, there's a Tommy on your tail!" was indeed a direct consequence of the Wallied intel. More than one crew found it out the hard way around Cape Bon.

Long story short, all these factors are relevant, most importantly because any numbers you can come up with, the Wallies could and would reshape their strategy to counter it. The more and better of everything will be translated into victory unless you can achieve a loss ratio that the superior force can't afford. So far I haven't seen anything able to convince me that the Germans had or would have a possibility to do that in 1944.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by Peter89 » 16 Nov 2020 07:58

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2020 07:50


Elsewhere you're arguing that Black Thursday didn't cause a complete bombing halt; I'm with you on that one. But if you're trying to extend this to "Black Thursday was actually good!" you're flying unescorted into swarms of countervailing facts.

The raid alone cost 77 B-17's downed and scrapped for the loss of maybe 38 LW fighters. That's a disastrous exchange ratio of >10:1 in production terms and ~20:1 in human resources. It didn't cause a halt of bombing - plenty to destroy within escort range - but it did cause a temporary stoppage of deep penetration raids. Because it was a very bad thing for the USAAF, not the LW.
Exactly! The Wallies made a mistake and re-evaluated their approach - why do we think that they wouldn't do so if they have to wrestle for air superiority over the mainland?

The Schweinfurt raid cannot be used as a blueprint for ATL loss ratios, I hope we agree on that.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Nov 2020 08:04

Peter89 wrote:The Wallies changed their planes completely by 1944, overperforming the Germans, while they had to fly almost the same planes as in 1940.
You've made this point several times; you don't respond to counterpoints; it appears to be faith-based "reasoning." As I've already pointed out to you, the Fw-190D-9's performance was "suprisingly close" to the P-51D's. The Me109K-4 was actually faster than Mustang. Neither was as good as the Mustang all-around but it's pure folly to imagine they're in different classes.
Peter89 wrote:The equipment of the planes, the doctrines, the ample of fuel reserves, the fresh and trained pilots, the superior intelligence, etc. all point into one direction: the tactical and strategical situation of the Luftwaffe was doomed by 1944.
Yes, I know your mantra; it's devoid of analytical content and only convincing to someone who already believes it or wants to believe it.
Peter89 wrote:if they continue to resist into the jet age, the Wallies can build up their production faster, they can train more and better crews, and Germany could only lag behind.
Mantra again. What Allied jet was as good as Me262 in 1945? Meteor? Are you aware of the difference between centrifugal and axial flow jets?
Peter89 wrote:Long story short, all these factors are relevant, most importantly because any numbers you can come up with, the Wallies could and would reshape their strategy to counter it.
Long story short I prefer numerical analysis to mantra and faith. I'm sure you'll keep repeating these same points continuously.
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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 16 Nov 2020 08:16

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2020 08:04
You've made this point several times; you don't respond to counterpoints; it appears to be faith-based "reasoning." As I've already pointed out to you, the Fw-190D-9's performance was "suprisingly close" to the P-51D's. The Me109K-4 was actually faster than Mustang. Neither was as good as the Mustang all-around but it's pure folly to imagine they're in different classes.
And, both were inferior to cancelled Allied fighters like the P-72, P-82, or MB-5... Piston engine fighters had pretty much reached their limit by 1944. The Allies figured out they were going to win so they cancelled many late, last generation piston engine fighter projects simply because they didn't need them.
Mantra again. What Allied jet was as good as Me262 in 1945? Meteor? Are you aware of the difference between centrifugal and axial flow jets?
The P-80. But you have the Vampire, P-84, and other Allied jets on the horizon along with engines like the Metrovick F2 Beryl or GE J35 that are close to entering service and are better than anything the Germans have in their pipeline.

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Re: WW2 Air war in Europe with a defeated USSR?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Nov 2020 09:10

T.A. Gardner wrote:The P-80.
You turned me on the Youtube channel "Greg's Airplanes," which has a good video comparing Me-262 and P-80 thrust/drag profiles. https://youtu.be/zv83yBebiIU Greg's channel is highly recommended for other avgeeks.

Per Greg, Me-262 was faster in their respective 1945 configurations. And while P-80 could out-turn Me262 at slow speeds, Me-262 had the advantage at high speed. Here's screenshot of the turn analysis:

Image

Me-262 was also the better climber in most cases.

More importantly for a discussion of ATL 1945, the Me-262 was much farther along the introduction curve. OTL Me-262 production was hampered by critical shortages of labor/tooling and by bomb damage, all of which diminish/disappear in a post-SU ATL. Germany could have been producing 1,000 Me-262's per month in ATL early '45; P-80 would be produced by the dozen.
T.A. Gardner wrote:And, both were inferior to cancelled Allied fighters like the P-72, P-82, or MB-5.
I was comparing contemporary aircraft. Yes the Allies were building more advanced piston-engined AC but so was Germany. Ta-152 was about as fast as P-72; Do-335 was a far better heavy fighter than P-82. Both German designs were closer to service/production than their American counterparts in OTL 1945 and would have been better-placed ATL.
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