AU WWII scenario
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Author:  Cargil48 [ August 3rd, 2020, 1:31 pm ]
Post subject:  AU WWII scenario

Someone said here a while ago, "everything has already been drawn"... I may agree with that but I'll add: Interesting is not only designing a ship (in this case), but putting it in context with the era it was built, how and why and for which purpose. So, I will be as short as possible:
My idea is using existing ships of the 30s and 40s built in Germany or for Germany's DKM but in a different scenario. The story begins in Germany around 1935. After a sweeping coup made by the nazis to eliminate most of the top ranking officers who were more or less openly anti-nazi but pro-"law and order", the "Prussian Order)" a successful counter-coup changed the German scene: a new military government established a very strict government yes, but targeted to catch anyone sympathizing with either nazis or communists, both ruthless politicians who did - as we all know - much harm and misery.

During some eight months sort of a civil war raged in Germany (like before 1933) until the new military government established a firm order in the country. Without the prosecution of Jews obviously but implementing a dictatorship with somewhat "open borders": anyone could move around and make its living, as long as he followed the rules established: The same way as the new government saw itself as being in place to serve the country and implementing welfare, law and order, the population had also the obligation to live in a way having general harmony and cooperation in mind. Sort of "living like the Swiss"...

Much more could be said around this theme, but let's cut short: In 1936 the new government under general Erwin von Witzleben, totally anti-Hitler, had established its goals and the "denazification" had taken its toll. Let's stop here the internal political aspect, it was only intended to give an idea of which kind of Germany we will be talking here. During the period of civil and military unrest in 1935/6 the construction and modernization programs established by Hitler continued mostly to be done, although on a slower pace: Mainly the "Autobahnnetz" (net of motorways) as well as main roads were being built and on the tecnical side many new inventions continued to be tested by the industry. But most of all, the new government gave the world the public assurance that the borders pre-1918 would be a target yes, but not more than that. It was also assured that peaceful cooperation with most neighbouring countries would be the aim (The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Denmark and the entire Baltic region and, most of all, the United Kingdom). It was with this in mind that the AGNA signed days before the "coup d'état" in Berlin (the "Anglo-German Naval Agreement" which existed in reality) was ratified with Stanley Baldwin's government. What only later was known was the fact that at this occasion of ratification of this important document, the British National Government let the Germans secretly know that they would not intervene, should Germany take possession of its territories of the left bank of the Rhine, then occupied by France. von Witzleben replied affirmatively announcing even the will of the new German government to work out, one by one, special treaties with the above listed countries, to establish a healthy cooperation with them, mainly on the side of trade and personal travel between citizen of the undersigning countries but - said between the lines - to establish step by step a secret "memory of understanding" to cooperate to prevent an eventually occuring future expansion of the Soviet Union to the west.

This "frame" of political scenario is necessary here to understand the type of ships and their respective roles which will step by step fill this AU thread. On the tecnical side, I will try to follow as much as possible what has been done in the real world, and what was "on the pipeline" to be done, or even what was already being tried and tested but the nazis showed little interest for.

One of the first steps of gen. von Witzleben was to order his minister of Industry to put up a central bureau for technical investigation and testing ("Technisches Amt für Forschung und Entwicklung") to allow the ministry of Industry and the one for Economy to get permanently a view of the main projects being developed, trying to help on the governmental side (also financially) and trying as much as possible to avoid duplication of efforts and financial ressources. "Eine Richtung: Erfolg!" (One heading: success!) became the main goal for the Germans, from 1936 on. We will se which effects this had mainly on the nautical side. I hope you will like it.

Author:  Rhade [ August 3rd, 2020, 1:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Ok... but when the part with WW will came? For now the renewed Deutsche Republik (or maybe slow steps to reinstate monarchy?) made peace with neighbours and notorious invader from Austria is out of picture with his merry band of wackos so... what next? What lead to WW?

Soviets this time start first?

Author:  Cargil48 [ August 3rd, 2020, 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Rhade wrote: *
Ok... but when the part with WW will came? For now the renewed Deutsche Republik (or maybe slow steps to reinstate monarchy?) made peace with neighbours and notorious invader from Austria is out of picture with his merry band of wackos so... what next? What lead to WW?

Soviets this time start first?
You smelled it!... :)

In the meantime, by 1939, Germany had indeed signed the "Amsterdam treaty" with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Vienna treaty with Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Switzerland remained neutral, but undersigned a separate treaty for facilities in the border control for German citizen and German goods and vice-versa. In early 1939, Germany had also signed similar treaties with Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Baltic states and with Finland a secret treaty of mutual assistance was made, should the URSS get "too hungry" mainly for the Karelian Isthmus, for which Stalin even laid down a project for a treaty between the two countries (this is real). Finland rejected this treaty because, as it was said then, "we would give up good land in the Karelian isthmus and get in exchange waste land in Karelia!" (This is true as well). And the treaty was undersigned in total secrecy because at those times Finland had inside its borders a strong movement towards good relationships with the URSS, leading the country's government to be very, very cautious. The communist party's leader in Finland even fled to Moscow when the "Winter War" broke out, but let's not go too fast here...

Between December 1938 and the Spring of 1939 Finland had already imported from Germany under contracts nobody got to see from the part of the government a vast amount of "agricultural machinery" which, noone got to know why, was kept closed inside army barracks in small towns lost in the middle of nowhere, like Kehmi, Kumo, Vartsila, Sortavala and Vipuuri (Viborg), not far away from where general Mannerheim was secretly building up what would be known as "The Mannerheim line" (also historical correct). The respective personnel of the Finnish army who would operate that "agricultural machinery" spent between April and August almost five months in Germany training to operate armoured vehicles and "Panzer" learning also to operate communication items. (This part is mostly ficional, altough Finns got indeed to Germany later on, to pick up Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters).

In the meantime, Stalin got word of strange things going on in Finland and invited Germany's foreign minister Konstantin von Neurath to Moscow, for "talks for future friendship relations" between the two nations and even treaties for exchange of agricultural goods from the USSR against industrial equipment from Germany. On the last evening, during the state dinner, a "small talk" took place, during which the russian foreign minister Molotov asked in informal manner von Neurath what the treaties signed between Germany and the Baltic states, including Finland, really meant. Von Neurath had been briefed previously to the trip by his boss, the German PM, to try to push the conversation to this kind of questions, and so it came. Von Neurath, simulating a state of "having drunk one or two vodkas too many", replied also in very informal manner to Molotov: "Oh, nothing special, my dear collegue! As everybody knows, trade treaties mostly, like the one you want us to sign with you too... Our political interests lie not in the East, you know that at least since WWI (where Germany had signed a separate treaty of peace with Russia), our aim is taking revenge from the western allies, you know! They humiliated us at Versailles and we are not willing to let that go without a proper answer, I can assure you that! The left Rhineland territories we took them back without a single shot and there lie our interests! Alsacia and Lorraine! The African territories and the pieces of land in the Far East, a most rich part of the world! Our political interests regarding the east end at the Polish border and in the border between East Prussia and Latvia! Sweden is neutral, so we do not have to fear anything from there as well, and with you, in Moscow, we have the best relationship since Germany let Lenin pass through, coming from his exile in Switzerland..."

Molotov's light smile in the face did not pass unnoticed to Konstantin von Neurath... Strangely the Finish general Mannerheim pushed soon afterwards his defense line in the isthmus near Saint Petersburg/Leningrad as fast as he could... and not to Berlin's surprise, the USSR invaded exactly that land in the beginning of December 1939!... "En passant", it invaded Poland as well and Soviet troops stood suddenly at the Polish/German border... WW II had begun. Germany made the next day an alliance with the Baltic Countries and Finland, called the "Baltic Alliance", with the aim of pushing back the soviet troops. Two years later, almost at the same calendar day, Japan declared war to the US, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

(This last part deviates somewhat from reality regarding the timeline, but it is on the real facts I based my story which has this time Germany on the side of the western allies... How, it will be told here a bit later...)

Author:  Rhade [ August 3rd, 2020, 7:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

I like to point out that Poland was preparing itself for another war with Soviets from the end of the last one. Most fortifications had been created on eastern border, the operation plan "East" was developed and constantly updated for many years and armed forces doctrine put Red Army as primary enemy. Even when disproportion of forces was rather huge, Poles had been ready to meet Red Army on field and fight with it. As Soviets invade Poland in real 1939 they meet only slight resistance but even in this situation it was a... well, shitshow of incopetence, loosing directions and massive equipment failure. Someone could wonder what would happen if they would actually meet a core of Polish Army...

So I doubt Red Army would break Polish defence suddenly in any way. But it could put Poland in tough situation as nor France or Britain was not very interested (slightly speaking) in conflict with Soviets... Czechs would be more than happy to join Red Army. Romania had own problems with Soviets, Bulgaria was under suspicious eye of neighbours (but having pretty good relations with Poland)... Yugoslavia was crucible of problems of its own. Germany, complicated relation that ironically was improved because Hitler was for most time before war rather pro-Polish and saw it as natural ally in future "crusade" against Soviet Union.

So if Poland was not in situation that it need to sign a defense pact with France and GB against Germany... because Germany was not preparing itself to invade France and they did not need to eliminate Poland from equation... that would not demand the Ribi-Molot pact that would eliminate Baltic states... because Germany was a "guarantee" of small nations independence.

So when in 1934 both sides sign German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact they could also sign a "Secret Additional Protocol" (in your face Molotov!) that in case of Soviet aggression Germany will declare a war in defence of Poland just like Poland would if Soviets would attack Prussia.

EDIT: I use "so" too many times...

Author:  Cargil48 [ August 3rd, 2020, 8:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Interesting reply of yours. So, since I need arguments for my AU WWII story, I'll add then Poland to Finland in the "list of Secret Additional Protocol" signed by von Witzleben's government. And in reality, it helps me, since the visit of Konstantin von Neurath to Moscow ("my von Ribbentrop" so to speak...) in reality was inspired of the fear of Moscow to see a "ring of nations" forming an alliance, led by Germany, and with the official purpose of "trade agreements". And since Stalin did not believe that, he striked against Finland (true) and Poland (fictional at least in the way I put it here).

Don't look too much towards reality, my friend, I need "leeway" to unfold my story, otherwise... no ships here... :)

Author:  Rhade [ August 4th, 2020, 10:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Good backstory do dictate a lot of things. In terms of ships it remodel Kriegsmarine to the core, when break GB by atlantic convoy raids is not needed, navy will get a lot less founding and all famous capital ships just not materialize. Without anschluss size of army is smaller, without invading Czechoslovakia the industrial capability of Germany is cut down and 34t & 35t is not in Wehrmacht service. Romania is still very important with it oil fields and Soviets attacking it is the solid Casus Belli for Germany that import large quantity of oil from it.

That create a lot of new challenges and ships designs need to take that in to account.

EDIT: in short, Germany will not that much change in terms of air and land... but will be heavily changed in terms of navy. In comparing, Poland Navy will not change at all, but air and maybe land can move in to surprising directions.

Author:  Cargil48 [ August 4th, 2020, 12:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Let's go back to the year von Witzleben's government finally got a firm grip of the situation in Germany. And yes, as our friend from Poland Rhade put it in his post, Germany saw then itself (1936 and in the AU described here) as sort of guarantee to small nations mainly bordering with the USSR. That is the main reason for Germany signing the different "trade agreements" with the described neighbouring countries, to establish a firm grip in Central Europe based on the premise of openly friendly relations with Great Britain and having the longer term strategy of cooperation with these nations. Von Witzleben had in his cabinet an important German politician who quickly surrounded himself with several young politicians mainly in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and in the Ministry for Trade and Commerce who were enthusiastic defendants of pan-european relations and with whom he participated in all the important meetings with the countries bilateral agreements were to be signed. His name? Konrad Adenauer.

Going back somewhat: What was the naval reality the new government faced in 1936? What was Germany's KM then and what was being laid down, following still Hitler's initial expansion plans?


Bismarck class (42,000 tons, 8 × 380 mm guns)

Bismarck, laid down 1936, commissioned 1939, completed Februari 1941 (due to delay in construction as ordered by the government).
Tirpitz, laid down 1936, commissioned 1941, completed 1943 (due to delay in construction as ordered by the government).

Scharnhorst class (32,000 tons, 9 × 280 mm guns)

Scharnhorst, laid down 1934, commissioned 1936, completed January 1939.
Gneisenau, laid down 1934, commissioned 1936, completed May 1938.

Pre-dreadnought battleships

Deutschland class (15,000 tons, 4 × 280mm guns)

Schleswig-Holstein, 1906. Modernized between 1936 and 1937 and again in 1941 to be transformed into an Escort Aircraft Carrier
Schlesien, 1906. Modernized between 1936 and 1937 and again in 1941 to be transformed into an Escort Aircraft Carrier

Heavy cruisers

Admiral Hipper class (14,000 tons, 8 × 203 mm guns)

Admiral Hipper, laid down 1935, commissioned 1937, completed 1939
Blücher, laid down 1937, commissioned 1938, completed 1940
Seydlitz, laid down 1936, not commisioned, cancelled
Prinz Eugen, laid down 1936, commissioned 1938, completed 1940

Deutschland class (12,000 tons, 6 × 280 mm guns)

Deutschland (renamed Lützow), laid down, 1929, commissioned 1931, completed 1933, modernized 1939 and again 1943
Admiral Scheer, laid down 1931, commissioned 1933, completed 1934, modernized 1939 and again 1943
Admiral Graf Spee, laid down 1932, commissioned 1934, modernized 1939 and again 1941.

Let's stop here to work on the ships already listed. Then we will go down for the lighter units (and the aircraft carriers build in the meantime). We can see that until the end of 1939 Germany had the following heavy combat ships in service:
- Scharnhorst and Gneisenau battleships
- Schleswig-Holstein and Schlesien auxiliary battleships
- von Zeppelin aircraft carrier
- Admiral Hipper, Blücher and Prinz Eugen as heavy cruisers
- Lützow, Admiral Scheer and Admiral Graf Spee as auxiliary cruisers (although deeply modernized in 1939)

All these ships were in general terms within the Versailles treaty and their construction helped many German workers to regain a steady job, especially in the very hard times following the worldwide Great Depression. But their construction helped also the German naval industry to modernize their views and detailed knowledge. Prime-Minister von Witzleben had mixed feelings towards the Kriegsmarine (DKM), since it was in reality not necessary for Germany in those hard times of the 30s to have too big a Navy, on the other hand if Germany wanted to act as a "subtle wall" towards the increasingly stronger URSS and act as "guardian" of Middle and Northern Europe, an adequate presence on the right spots in naval termos was of the utmost importance (Eastern Baltic sea and the Black Sea). Should the Soviet Union get too strong, some nation in Middle Europe had to have the means to at least stop them, and this military aim had to involve also the DKM up to a certain point. This mid term strategy was also the subject of many talks the German government had with the UK in the first place, but also with all the other nations with which the cooperation treaties were signed with. And Stalin's services got word of these talks, obviously. One reason more for Stalin to look very skeptical at Germany and at all the central and northern European nations (except France).

One important side aspect of all this talk about Germany's strategic thoughts relates to its more than vital dependance on oil from Romania and its vast Ploesti reffineries. Although most of the supplies to Germany were done through the Danube river, Ploesti was easily in range for Soviet midsized ships carrying troops and artillery, should an attempt for an invasion occur. And for Romania Germany was its main client, this meaning that more than a "trade agrement" was undersigned between the two countries... Romania's authorities began works on its port of Varna, following secretly German plans, to allow the DKM to deploy there a specific fleet to secure the shores of the western Black Sea (and maybe more than that...).

Back to the strategic thoughts of the German regime: von Witzleben knew very well that the Russian ports of Murmansk in the far north, Odessa and Sevastopol both in the Black Sea, were of vital importance for Moscow, so he always kept an eye on the naval strategies to be outlined for Germany, regarding the usefulness of the DKM. And that he had to be very cautious about and on two aspects: Try to avoid Moscow of getting too much knowledge about the German real intentions, and on the other hand the public opinion in Germany, which had endured very tough times after the end of WWI and many still saw the now defunct Hitler as "the savior of the nation"... Only the fact that the imprisoned and then liberated nationals of jewish origin spread widely the news of the crimes Hitler's regime was already committing by 1935, when the "putsch" occured, got the new German government a fistful of real arguments to counter those "lunatic dreamers". The shock waves these facts caused worldwide helped obviously von Witzleben and his "New Order" regime.

Author:  Cargil48 [ August 4th, 2020, 12:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Rhade wrote: *
Good backstory do dictate a lot of things. In terms of ships it remodels Kriegsmarine to the core, when break GB by atlantic convoy raids is not needed, navy will get a lot less funding and all famous capital ships just not materialize. Without anschluss size of army is smaller, without invading Czechoslovakia the industrial capability of Germany is cut down and 34t & 35t is not in Wehrmacht service. Romania is still very important with it oil fields and Soviets attacking it is the solid Casus Belli for Germany that import large quantity of oil from it.

That create a lot of new challenges and ships designs need to take that in to account.

EDIT: in short, Germany will not (have) that much change in terms of air and land... but will be heavily changed in terms of navy. In comparing, Poland Navy will not change at all, but air and maybe land can move in to surprising directions.
I was writing that lengthy text just above mine now when you posted yours. My text, I guess, answers some of your questions raised now and I thank you for your very positive inputs. They help me indeed to keep a watchful eye on my argumentation... even this being an AU...

Edit: As soon as Germany was internally secured, the new government laid down many plans, changing obviously many of Hitler's obssessive ideas to become a dominant power on the military side. The new Wehrmacht would have an adequate dimension according to the size of Germany itself but also with reserves to face an eventual need for a quick deployment of troops inside a neighbouring country, the so-called "Nationale Armeereserve" (National Army Reserve). The first threat for peace in Europe came in 1936 from the side of Spain, where a leftist regime won the elections, a fact that triggered a counter-reaction from the part of the Nationalists (Conservatives and other right-wing opponents). The enthusiasm of a significant part of the Spanish population around the "Frente Popular" which quicly formed (the left-leaning Popular Front government of the Second Spanish Republic, in alliance with anarchists, of the communist and syndicalist variety) to face the right-winger movement led by general Franco, immediately triggered the alarm bells in many European governments and to von Witzleben was a clear sign that Germany would indeed need a strong military force. This led his government to lay out realistic plans to build up a well organized army (the Wehrmacht) and a new air force (which became the Luftwaffe) but not loosing sight of the forces needed at sea.

The Wehrmacht had a fervorous defendant of the new armoured cars moved by chains which were with great success deployed by the British in France's muddy war fields full of trenches and barbed wire barriers in the last year of WWI and which led to heavy losses on the German side. This man was Heinz Guderian. He played a central role in the development of the panzer division concept and in 1936 he became the Inspector of Motorized Troops. (Wikipedia). Guderian played a vital role in organizing the complex industrial background which led to the well known German Panzer and played a vital role with a relatively small force of German Panzer deployed in finland in early january 1940 to help the Finns to counter the Soviets in the "Winter War". Here he gained an immense prestige in showing how the mecanized wing of the "Wehrmacht" (know as "Panzertruppe") could operate in conjunction with soldiers by foot ("Panzergrenadiere") and the operation to ship Panzer and their crews by sea to Finland (due to the overwhelming traffic in the railroad lines of East Prussia and the Baltic States) led him to the idea of the DKM having some specially designed ships with relatively shallow draught and bows with opening doors to transport his troops directly to the shores of a given country, avoiding the need of a complex operation at a harbour and the transport from there to the front lines. Another new concept was born for Germany's military, the naval deployment of terrestrial forces and their equipment.

Author:  Cargil48 [ August 4th, 2020, 11:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Let's now have a look at the main warships in the DKM at the end of the year of 1939 and we start with the battleship "Scharnhorst", which underwent several changes during its build which deserve to be looked at more in detail.

[ img ]

I took as basis the original design already available here at Shipbucket, since better it could not be and the original artists deserve their work to be shown. The major changes made during construction were the elimination of the aft airplane catapult, since the progress made in the meantime by the electronic industry in terms of "Funkmessgeräte" (electronic detection devices a.k.a."radar") made two scout airplanes not needed to be carried aboard. These elecronic devices made also the fire control much easier, on a level never seen before, giving the artillery aboard an accuracy which before could only have been dreamed of. Scharnhorst was the first battleship of the DKM to use this kind of new electronic detection and guidance, the UK and the USA were already implementing on their ships as well, even a step or two ahead of Germany.

A substantial change from the original plans was the use of the 9 x3 80mm SKL L/52 C/34 artillery and in triple turrets instead of 9 × 28 cm/54.5 SK C/34. The weight increase was about 1.500 tonnes but the benefit immense. With this kind of main armament, Scharnhorst and her sister ship Gneisenau became ships very close to the Bismarck and Tirpitz, then in the process of being built. This was the main reason for halting their production, since their armament had to be reevaluated to continue to be the top battleships of the new Deutsche Kriegsmarine as was intended from the beginning.

Another big improvement could be seen in the machinery department. Propulsion was made through three two stage Brown, Boveri & Co geared steam turbines fed by nine boilers, six medium pressure and three very high pressure reheat Wagner boilers. Under normal cruise circumstances, each one of the three turbines is fed by the medium pressure high capacity boilers, allowing for a speed of 23,5 knots. Under special circumstances, with the three reheat boilers lit to maximum pressure to feed the first stage, the turbines get their power output doubled to a maximum of 168.400 shp delivered to the three geared shafts each one driving a five bladed screw, allowing for 32,6 knots in favourable sea conditions. The recirculating exhaust steam leaving the final stages of the turbines and passing through the condenser before reentering the boilers make hot water available to the entire ship. To deliver electrical power, the ship has installed three diesel powered gensets working each one on a different compartment divided by watertight amergency doors.

The Scharnhorst class were the first capital ships, referred to as either battleships or battlecruisers, ordered then (1935) for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine after World War I. The class comprised two identical vessels: Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Scharnhorst was launched first, and is considered to be the lead ship by some sources. They marked the beginning of German naval rearmament after the Treaty of Versailles. (based on Wikipedia). The ships were first planned to be armed with nine 28 cm (11 in) SK C/34 guns in three triple turrets but the new government emerged after the coup against the Nazi regime changed the plans, after the AGNA was signed, to arm both ships with nine 38 cm (15 in) SK C/34 guns in triple turrets and put the constructionn of Bismarck and Tirpitz on hold.

The two ships were laid down in 1935, launched in late 1936, and commissioned into the German fleet by early 1939.

Scharnhorst displaced 33,500 long tons as built and 39,600 long tons fully loaded, had a length of 234.9 m, a beam of 30 m and a maximum draft of 9.9 m. In 1939, when the battleship was commissioned, noone asked foir her compliance to the Versailles treaty, the AGNA having outdated that humiliating document. The crew complement consisted of a total of 1.387 men in total, some 300 less than originally planned. During the summer of 1939, Scharnhorst got her complement of ships to build an outonomous fleet, consisting of her as admiral ship, accompanied by two light cruiser, four destroyer, two specialized destroyer in ASW with new sonar equipment and waterbomb throwers installed facing forward as well as backwards plus four replenishment ships. Sea trials and manoevers with other German ships showed the accuracy of the new FuMO devices the company Lorenz and other subcontractors had been developing since 1936.

Her first commanding captain was Kapitän zur See (KzS) Otto Ciliax, a veteran of WWI, who due to a sudden illness had to be replaced still in 1939 by by KzS Kurt-Caesar Hoffmann until his nomination to commanding Admiral of the German Navy in the Baltic, but still onboard of Scharnhorst.

This capital ship, together with her sister ship Gneisenau, would play an important role in the Baltic in the aftermath of the "Winter War" as well as later on in the Pacific war theater, as will be analysed here later on.

Author:  Cargil48 [ August 4th, 2020, 11:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: AU WWII scenario

Simplified scheme of the double-stage (HP and MP) steam turbines.

[ img ]

Scheme I made using basic schemes available in the internet.

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