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What Tiger Vets Say About Range Estimation

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Correspondence with Miles Krogfus brought the following points to light, based on information he received from numerous Tiger vets:

A. no indication that 3 man range estimate averaging was ever used

B. Various gunners set their guns for 800m to 1000m for the first shot at a tank sized target, a technique that was used by some of the best gunners (aim at target bottom)

C. Tiger Fibel sets out technique of using gun sight triangles and perceived target size to estimate range

My analysis indicates that setting the gun range for 800m to 1000m and aiming at the bottom of the target would result in a very high hit percentage at all ranges between the Tiger and the range setting. This technique, which is referred to as Battlesight Aim by post-WW II tankers and was hinted at in the Panzertactik book, would be very effective against T34's and Shermans in the open and would enable a Tiger crew to get off repeated shots in quick succession since the range estimate would stay the same.

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Huh! Very interesting. After all that debate on the subject 3 man range estimating turned out to be a 'rulebook' practice that was hardly ever used. It does sound like that - like it's good in theory but would fall apart in the heat of combat.

Reminds me of combat use of the rangefinders on U.S. M48 MBTs in Vietnam and elsewhere, a good idea in theory but in combat the gunner would just set his sights at 1000m and plug away to save precious seconds getting the first shot off.

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Note that over 800-1000m the shell drops about 2m. So basically they set the sight so the round is level with the point of aim at 800-1000m. And the round is above the point of aim by up to 2m, closer than that.

Then they aim at the bottom. This is suppose to hit the actual bottom of the target at 800m or 1000m, and hit higher up but still on the target at closer ranges. Beyond 1000m, the round will land short, not long. So the first round tells them - with a visible short - if they need to increase the elevation.

This relies on a target being about 2m high, however. Not the best practice against a hull down target. And round dispersion could easily make half of the shots miss low at the actual "zeroed" range i.e. 1000m.

It is fine for quickdraw shooting at 800m or less, though, against a hull up target.

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Originally posted by rexford:

Correspondence with Miles Krogfus brought the following points to light, based on information he received from numerous Tiger vets:

A. no indication that 3 man range estimate averaging was ever used

B. Various gunners set their guns for 800m to 1000m for the first shot at a tank sized target, a technique that was used by some of the best gunners (aim at target bottom)

C. Tiger Fibel sets out technique of using gun sight triangles and perceived target size to estimate range

.

The Tigerfibel actually says that the 3 man technique be used 'if they have time'. I doubt it was used at anything but very long range shots where and there is no enemy counter fire going on.

Even then its debateable. In any case, I have never read of any instance where it is used.

I have come across references to a TZR1 rangefinder for Tiger tanks. This seems to be something different than a SF14ZGi scissorscope.

Using a battlesight technique may have been used when advancing into terrain. But it would not be used while in a defensive position. A tiger tank with time to set up a range card would be better off firing with precision fire (ie entering range and actually aiming at target). Your own experiments show that guaging range with the triangle is actually quite accurate. I would not accept 50% odds on a enemy tank (first shot chance) if I could do better.

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Originally posted by Mr. Tittles:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by rexford:

Correspondence with Miles Krogfus brought the following points to light, based on information he received from numerous Tiger vets:

A. no indication that 3 man range estimate averaging was ever used

B. Various gunners set their guns for 800m to 1000m for the first shot at a tank sized target, a technique that was used by some of the best gunners (aim at target bottom)

C. Tiger Fibel sets out technique of using gun sight triangles and perceived target size to estimate range

.

The Tigerfibel actually says that the 3 man technique be used 'if they have time'. </font>

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Originally posted by K_Tiger:

I`m not sure where i read it, but it was a interview with Bobby Woll (Wittmans Gunner) who sayd, that he allways pre adjusted his gun to 800m.

That's good info. Thanks.

The following are the computed hit percentages against a 2m high T34 that is in the open and stationary, where the hit rate considers shot scatter due to range estimate errors, random scatter and varying target width:

Tiger 88mm APCBC

Gun Set at 800m

100% hit rate to 700m

50% at 800m

0% hits at 900m and 1000m

Gun Set to 900m

100% hits to 300m

95% hits at 400m

88% hits at 500m

98% hits at 600m

100% hits at 700m and 800m

50% hits at 900m

Gun Set to 1000m

100% hits to 200m

93% at 300m

21% at 400m

9% at 500m

19% at 600m

66% at 700m

99% at 800m

100% at 900m

50% at 1000m

0% at 1100m

75L48 APCBC using the same firing technique with an 800m gun setting would score almost 100% hits at every range from 100m to 700m, and 50% at 800m.

With a 900m gun setting the percentages would decrease from 100% at 100m to 52% at 500m, and then increase to 99% at 800m:

75L48 APCBC with 900m Aim

100m 100%

200m 100%

300m 98%

400m 61%

500m 52%

600m 71%

700m 98%

800m 99%

900m 50%

It's like JasonC says, if the trajectory height is lower than the target height one scores big time at all ranges up to the aim distance, if the trajectory goes over the target height or skims the top some of the hit rates will be around 50% or so in the mid-ranges. And if the trajectory goes over the target height for a while the hit chances will be very low in the middle range area.

Good explanation JasonC.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

Note that over 800-1000m the shell drops about 2m. So basically they set the sight so the round is level with the point of aim at 800-1000m. And the round is above the point of aim by up to 2m, closer than that.

Then they aim at the bottom. This is suppose to hit the actual bottom of the target at 800m or 1000m, and hit higher up but still on the target at closer ranges. Beyond 1000m, the round will land short, not long. So the first round tells them - with a visible short - if they need to increase the elevation.

This relies on a target being about 2m high, however. Not the best practice against a hull down target. And round dispersion could easily make half of the shots miss low at the actual "zeroed" range i.e. 1000m.

It is fine for quickdraw shooting at 800m or less, though, against a hull up target.

i feel the Axis gunners where aided by the Allies using varients of the same model throughout the war. if you've shot at enough Shermans/T34's you know the range at first contact. give or take a small enough margin of error for it not to matter with a HV gun.

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The maximum trajectory heights for the rounds discussed in this post are:

Tiger I 88mm APCBC

800m aim, 1.4m

900m aim, 1.8m

1000m aim, 2.3m

75L48 APCBC

800m aim, 1.5m

900m aim, 2.0m

1000m aim, 2.5m

The Tiger 88 has a higher muzzle velocity and loses less velocity with range percentage wise, so has a lower trajectory height than 75L48 shots with APCBC.

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Originally posted by Other Means:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by JasonC:

Note that over 800-1000m the shell drops about 2m. So basically they set the sight so the round is level with the point of aim at 800-1000m. And the round is above the point of aim by up to 2m, closer than that.

Then they aim at the bottom. This is suppose to hit the actual bottom of the target at 800m or 1000m, and hit higher up but still on the target at closer ranges. Beyond 1000m, the round will land short, not long. So the first round tells them - with a visible short - if they need to increase the elevation.

This relies on a target being about 2m high, however. Not the best practice against a hull down target. And round dispersion could easily make half of the shots miss low at the actual "zeroed" range i.e. 1000m.

It is fine for quickdraw shooting at 800m or less, though, against a hull up target.

i feel the Axis gunners where aided by the Allies using varients of the same model throughout the war. if you've shot at enough Shermans/T34's you know the range at first contact. give or take a small enough margin of error for it not to matter with a HV gun. </font>

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75L48 APCBC using the same firing technique with an 800m gun setting would score almost 100% hits at every range from 100m to 700m, and 50% at 800m.

With a 900m gun setting the percentages would decrease from 100% at 100m to 52% at 500m, and then increase to 99% at 800m:

75L48 APCBC with 900m Aim

100m 100%

200m 100%

300m 98%

400m 61%

500m 52%

600m 71%

700m 98%

800m 99%

900m 50%

Aside from Jason's claim about 'pointing error' throwing these numbers off, I would not want such a large miss percetage at 400-600m. In other words, in the case of a 75mmL48, the battlesight range that is targeted at should be shorter. Perhaps 600-800m (depends how much you buy into Jasons pointing error).

In more modern weapons like the 105mm APDS rounds, the battlesight technique works out to 1500m. This is because of the very 'forgiving' flat trajectory from the high velocity round. WWII tank weapons can not achieve a firer to target guarantee but rather a band of confidence at longer ranges. A gap where hits can be assured. In the above example, its around 750m and probably +/-50m or so. This is neglecting the close in hit zone which is typically not a battlefield range to to AP.

If I were in a StuG and advancing towards the enemy, and I knew that my front was vulnerable to enemy fire under 500m, I would want to be able to quickly destroy any pop up threat at this range and quickly (assuming AP loaded as per SOP and the target was armored). In other words, shift the assurance from 750 m back a couple hundred meters. The assurance band would also widen as the 'battlesight' range is moved back towards the firer (lengthening the 'flat' zone). Rexford shows it gets acceptable at this setting but I am leary of some of his calcs.

[ September 04, 2004, 10:19 AM: Message edited by: Mr. Tittles ]

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Tiger 88mm APCBC

Gun Set at 800m

100% hit rate to 700m

50% at 800m

0% hits at 900m and 1000m

The maximum trajectory heights for the rounds discussed in this post are:

Tiger I 88mm APCBC

800m aim, 1.4m

900m aim, 1.8m

1000m aim, 2.3m

The Tiger I gun is about 2m off the ground to begin with. Are you assuming a flat plane and a Tiger I dug in with its weapon flat on the ground? What do you mean by maximum trajectory height? Is it off the ground?

The flight time is around the 1 second range (Perhaps slightly longer). Given a 5 m total drop in this time (2.5m up and 2.5m down) and factoring the 2 m height difference between gun height and target bottom at 800m; there will be plenty of ranges between the firer and target where 100% can not be assured. Ie the round will fly over a 2m high target at 400m.

[ September 04, 2004, 10:24 AM: Message edited by: Mr. Tittles ]

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The trajectory height is measured from a straight line drawn from the gun through the bottom of the target, and changes as the target round changes. The one constant is the point at which the round passes through the gun-target bottom line, which is the gun range setting for zero dispersion.

Drawn a Tiger sitting on level ground and a 2m high T34 at 500m distance. Draw a straight line from the Tiger gun through the bottom of the T34 and let the line run down thru the ground.

Now draw the trajectory for a 1000m shot, which starts at the Tiger gun and lands on the gun-target bottom line at a point 1000m from the Tiger. The maximum trajectory height of the shot is 2.3m over the gun-target bottom line.

Trajectory height is measured against the line from gun to aim point. The Panther Fibel shows this sort of aim line.

If the T34 is at 500m the shot flies over the bottom of the tank by about 2.3m, a miss most of the time.

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Last time I checked, gravity worked like 9.8m/s^2. So for 1/2 G t^2, we have G/2 for one second. Its about 5m drop if you let go of a 20 lb barbell off a tall building (Ok, 4.9m).

If a StuG were dug in flat on the grond, 75mmL48, its AP would go about 725m in one second. It could then hit (no dispersion) most 2.5m targets out to that range. Shot goes up 2.45m and comes down 2.45m.

[ September 04, 2004, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: Mr. Tittles ]

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Tiger 88mm APCBC

Gun Set at 800m

100% hit rate to 700m

50% at 800m

0% hits at 900m and 1000m

My logic is that any superelevation of the Tiger I gun that is at 2m above a flat plane will not have 100% chance of a hit under these circumstances (the target is only 2m high so any superelevation will easily fly over the target if the gun is starting at 2m). The gun would technically have to start out parrallel (zero height) with the ground!

This effect is short ranged though and would only effect close targets.

[ September 04, 2004, 11:08 AM: Message edited by: Mr. Tittles ]

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Originally posted by Mr. Tittles:

Tiger 88mm APCBC

Gun Set at 800m

100% hit rate to 700m

50% at 800m

0% hits at 900m and 1000m

My logic is that any superelevation of the Tiger I gun that is at 2m above a flat plane will not have 100% chance of a hit under these circumstances (the target is only 2m high so any superelevation will easily fly over the target if the gun is starting at 2m). The gun would technically have to start out parrallel (zero height) with the ground!

This effect is short ranged though and would only effect close targets.

See pages 25 and 26 in the Panther Fibel, the trajectory height is measured with regard to the line between the gun and the target bottom.

We'll assume the Tiger gun is 2m above the bottom of the 2m high T34, ground is everywhere level, and the gun barrel is initially aimed straight at the T34 bottom. The initial angle from 88mm to target bottom, for a 200m target range, is arc tangent (2m/200m) or -0.573 degrees.

For a 1000m shot the gun would be superelevated above the initial aim by 9.4 mils or +0.529 degrees, according to the German ballistic data sheet.

So the final aim angle is close to zero degrees, being -0.044 degrees. A slightly downward tilt to the gun.

A 200m target takes 0.26 seconds.

So, a quick and dirty trajectory estimate for this case is:

200m x tangent (-.044 degrees) - 0.5 x 9.81 x 0.26 squared or -0.485m.

So the Tiger 88 shot at 200m with aim at T34 bottom is about -.485m below the Tiger gun or 1.5m above the T34 bottom.

My calculations used in the hit percentage estimates assumed that the Tiger shot elevation for a 1000m range setting round aimed at the bottom of a 200m distant T34 target would be 1.41m above the T34 bottom.

The difference between the two calculations is due to the use of 9.4 mils for the 88mm aim at 1000m, which is what the Germans list but appears to be high based on my trajectory program computer runs.

My ballistic calculations indicated an 8.9 mil superelevation for 1000m shots by the Tiger, which relates to +0.50 degrees. Which raises the initial gun barrel angle to -0.573 + 0.50 or -0.073 degrees for 1000m shots aimed at the T34 bottom.

And the simple trajectory equation becomes:

200m x tangent(-0.073 degrees) - 0.5 x 9.81 x 0.26 squared or -0.59m. Which results in an 88m round trajectory height of 1.41m above the T34 bottom at 200m (-0.59m below the Tiger gun which is 2m above the ground). Which is what my battlesight aim hit rate estimates assumed.

I trust the above analysis shows that my estimates and statements are on a firm footing and can withstand close scrutiny.

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OK I see how the gun depression factors in. It is sort of compensating for the range. It in fact comes from the guns height.

But what if the Tiger were hull down in a position where its gun height is not 2m? Lets say its 0.5m. The angle is effected by this isnt it?

[ September 05, 2004, 07:38 PM: Message edited by: Mr. Tittles ]

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Originally posted by Mr. Tittles:

OK I see how the gun depression factors in. It is sort of compensating for the range. It in fact comes from the guns height.

But what if the Tiger were hull down in a position where its gun height is not 2m? Lets say its 0.5m. The angle is effected by this isnt it?

No, the height of the Tiger gun above the ground is not a factor as long as it doesn't become radical (like on top of a 20 story building).

For a 200m battlesight aim shot at a T34 where the Tiger gun is 0.5m above the T34 bottom:

The angle from Tiger gun to T34 bottom becomes minus 0.143 degrees, the gun is elevated plus 8.9 mils (+0.50 degrees) above the initial aim for 1000m and the overall angle after elevation is +0.357 degrees.

The elevation of the round at 200m equals:

200m x tangent(0.357 degrees) - 0.5 x 9.81 x 0.26squared, or 0.91m above the gun, which when added to the gun elevation (0.5m) becomes 1.41m above the T34 hull bottom.

Same result whether the Tiger gun is 2m above the ground, or 0.5m above the ground.

If the Tiger gun is 2m below the T34 bottom, the gun is initially aimed at plus 0.573 degrees, and is then elevated 0.50 degrees for a 1000m shot, so the final angle is 1.073 degrees.

Shot elevation at 200m distant T34 equals:

-2m + 200m x tangent(1.073 degrees) - 0.5 x 9.81 x 0.26squared = 1.41m above the T34 bottom.

Same ole 1.41m above the T34 bottom.

Like I said some time ago, the actual height of the Tiger gun is not an issue relative to the T34 bottom aim in most cases.

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Are you using the same superelevation (that is, firing at 1000m) as a 2m tall gun as a 0.5m tall gun. It would seem that there would be a shift downward all along the trajectory line which would move the '1000m' shot much shorter. Ie, it would need more superelevation then.

For the case where the gun is actually at zero height, there is no correction from deptressing the barrel at targets that are closer. This effect essentially disappears.

Like the StuG example above, the non dispersion gravity driven ballistic flight will exceed 2m.

[ September 06, 2004, 11:01 AM: Message edited by: Mr. Tittles ]

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"Are you using the same superelevation (that is, firing at 1000m) as a 2m tall gun as a 0.5m tall gun."

Yes, it should be clear from the math in my previous examples.

"It would seem that there would be a shift downward all along the trajectory line which would move the '1000m' shot much shorter. Ie, it would need more superelevation then."

No. Analysis of many trajectory runs on the computer shows that the changes are insignificant (very small)and can be disregarded.

"For the case where the gun is actually at zero height, there is no correction from deptressing the barrel at targets that are closer. This effect essentially disappears."

Don't understand your point. When the gun is at 0m (same elevation as target bottom) it is initially aimed at the target bottom at the start, and would be elevated 8.9 mils for a 1000m shot.

What effect disappears?

"Like the StuG example above, the non dispersion gravity driven ballistic flight will exceed 2m."

I already stated in the initial posts that the trajectory for 75L48 and 88L56 shots will exceed a 2m height for 1000m aimed shots and would miss a 2m high target at quite a few ranges between 0m and 1000m.

The previous examples show that battlesight aim does not depend upon the relative height of the gun barrel with respect to the target bottom. The gun is aimed at the target bottom, it is then elevated for a 1000m shot and the rest is physics.

Do you understand how the German gun sight worked? Please look at the Tiger Fibel drawing, first one places the aiming triangle just under the target bottom and then one adjusts the aim range setting which is on the outside of the sight.

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Lets do some physics..

Take a Tiger I with a 2m high gun with respect to a flat plane. Use no superelevation and fire the gun parallel to the ground.

1/2Gt^2=2m, solve for t=0.64 secs, probably land about 500m away.

Now for a hull down Tiger I 0.5m high weapon off a flat plane.

1/2Gt^2=0.5 t=0.32 sec

The 0.5m height firer distance (downrange) is probably half the 2m high firer distance.

Its gravity driven. Now if you superelevate each gun 0.5 degrees, they now will land at the same range?

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Originally posted by Mr. Tittles:

Lets do some physics..

Take a Tiger I with a 2m high gun with respect to a flat plane. Use no superelevation and fire the gun parallel to the ground.

1/2Gt^2=2m, solve for t=0.64 secs, probably land about 500m away.

Now for a hull down Tiger I 0.5m high weapon off a flat plane.

1/2Gt^2=0.5 t=0.32 sec

The 0.5m height firer distance (downrange) is probably half the 2m high firer distance.

Its gravity driven. Now if you superelevate each gun 0.5 degrees, they now will land at the same range?

What's the point? The issue here is a firing technique where the gun is initially aimed at target bottom, and then is elevated a given amount for a 1000m shot (8.9 mils or 0.5 degrees).

I already showed that regardless of gun elevation, if one aims at the target bottom at a given range and elevates thegun above the initial angle for a 1000m shot, the height above target bottom will be the same.

If you would examine my physics calculations and show me a mistake or incorrect assumption I will be glad to revisit this topic in the future.

[ September 07, 2004, 06:45 PM: Message edited by: rexford ]

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It is worth noting that neither the Tiger or Panther Fibels provides any direct advice regarding the use of battlesight aim. However, the effective range for use of the battlesight aim technique against a 2m high target is indicated in the German ballistic tables for every armor piercing and HEAT round:

50L60 APC, 75L48 APCBC and 88L56 APCBC: 2m trajectory height or less at 0-900m range interval will result in a high hit probability against 2m tall targets with 900m aim

88L71 APCBC: 2m trajectory height or less at 0-1200m range interval will result in a high hit probability against 2m tall targets with 1200m aim

It cannot be stated at this point with certainty that battlesight aim was very prevalent and was used as a common tactic among panzer troops and anti-tank gun crews, although the research has just started and will be continued.

It is likely that the best gunners may have used the technique with good results, and the Panzertactik book indicates that crews routinely loaded armor piercing rounds and set the gun for 800m to 1000m ranges prior to initial contact with the enemy, which suggests battlesight aim was used widely.

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What's the point? The issue here is a firing technique where the gun is initially aimed at target bottom, and then is elevated a given amount for a 1000m shot (8.9 mils or 0.5 degrees).

Is it not actually set for 1000m and THEN aimed at the target bottom? Do you think your order of procedure and this order of procedure are the same? Have you ever used the sights in Panzer Elite?

In any case, I am trying to make a point about firing sensitivity to gun height. Obviously, AFV do not have altimeters. But its very clear that for a given superelevation, the distance the round will travel depends on the guns height.

Since the German gunners supposedly aimed at the target bottom anyway, it can not be assumed that they were using battlefield sight. A gunner would find over time the relationship between turning his range dial and the movement that causes the triangle to go up or down (thats a hint rexford).So for an experienced gunner, he could have his range set for 800m, sight a target, and instinctively sense a range differential and point his triangles tip either lower or higher as needed. He would not dial in extra or less range but compensate for it by adjusting the position of the triangle itself.

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"Since the German gunners supposedly aimed at the target bottom anyway, it can not be assumed that they were using battlefield sight."

The standard gun setting procedure for the Germans was to aim the gun at the target bottom and then add to the initial range estimate to bring the trajectory up to the target mid-point. The adjustment was based on half the perceived target height in mils times 100m. I've said this many, many times.

Battlesight aim and standard targeting are NOT the same for the Germans. Not the same.

If the range is set at 800m to 1000m for the first shot and the aim is at target bottom, it is battlesight aim. This procedure is noted in the German ballistic tables.

CG on the Yahoo! Tankers site brought up an action during which T34's were charging Wittmann's Tiger (T34's were charging Tigers to ram them, and they had damaged one Tiger earlier in the action), and the gunner used a constant range estimate against the Russian tanks to get off as many shots as possible in the time they had.

Battlesight aim in the above action would consist of setting the range setting to one figure and then repositioning the triangle do it was at the bottom of the next T34 to be fired upon.

I do not care to speculate as to whether the triangles were moved up or down to adjust ranges since there does not appear to be any reason to suspect that it was done other than some gamers in Panzer Elite. Do you have something solid upon which you speculation is based?

[ September 08, 2004, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: rexford ]

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