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Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas

Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas


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Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas

Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas

The Panzer IV was the only German tank to remain in production and service for the entire length of the Second World War. It began life as an infantry support tank with a short gun, before gaining the powerful longer guns that made it the dominant German tank of the mid-war period. Even after the appearance of the Panther and Tiger II the Panzer IV remained an important gun tank, but it also became the basis of a wide range of modified vehicles, from the famous StuG IV to self propelled artillery and anti-aircraft tanks.

This entry in the Images of War series traces the combat career of the Panzer IV from the earliest fighting in Poland in September 1939 when limited numbers reduced its importance, to the multitude of vehicles of 1944-45. We follow the key developments in the design of the tank in some detail, with a good selection of photos of each major combat variant from a wide range of angles. The pictures are supported by accurate captions that explain what we are seeing, where and when, and often give useful identification tips (I can see this book being very useful in the future when I attempt to identify Panzer IVs in my own collection of photos!).

This book contains a good selection of high quality photos with useful captions. There aren't many combat photos (not surprisingly!), but there are quite a few showing battle damage (often taken by the relieved surviving crew members). This book should appeal to those interested in armoured warfare in general, while the wide range of pictures and angles should make it useful to the modeller.

Chapters
1 - Blitzkrieg, 1939-1941
2 - Barbarossa, 1941
3 - Russia, 1942-1943
4 - Russian and Western Front, 1943-1944
5 - Last Year of Operations, 1944-1945
Appendix: Panzer Camouflage and Panzer IV Variants

Author: Paul Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 144
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2012



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As mentioned in another review, the book does what is says on the cover - namely it presents 'images of war' - in this case of the Panzer IV during WW2. As such no postwar use (for instance by the Syrians) is covered and the primary focus is on the use in the German Wehrmacht, with a small number of photos of for instance Bulgarian use also thrown in.

The book is divided into several chapters covering specific time periods, all of which begin with a description of the main facets of the tank's employment during the period. The text is relatively sparse and one should clearly not expect a definitive account of all aspects of the tank's design, versions, operational use, etc. in a pictorial volume. Some basic information is provided, though.

The photographs, on the other hand are undoubtedly excellent and for that alone the book is worth having. While all are black and white, the author definitely covers the paint schemes (including RAL colour codes) in great detail in the associated captions, so the book may well be a useful source for modellers, too (just do not expect colour drawings or profiles).

The pictures lso give the readers a good overview of how the tank evolved and what field modifications were common. These also often made it difficult for the author to pinpoint the exact version of the tank in each case (quite some captions thereby give a range of versions that could be displayed by the photo).

As also mentioned in another review, the book remains heavily centred on the Eastern Front in its coverage, even if other theatres of war are represented occassionally, too.

On a format note - the book works reasonably well in its Kindle format, too, even if you will get more out of it on larger devices.

Overall I fee the book represents a good value for money and it will be a useful addition to your WW2 library, especially if tank warfare or the Wehrmacht are of interest. And as long as you know that you are purchasing primarily a photographic collection and not an in depth discourse on the tank in question, your expectations should definitely be met.


Panzer IV: 1939-1945 by Paul Thomas (Paperback, 2017)

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Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas - History

This has nothing to do with startups or technology, but it is a vital insight into our world, that makes us more aware of that world's terrible failings.

I am glad HN is still a place I can come to read about web deployment best practises, and find my self lost in near weeping horror about the wars I did not try hard enough to stop.

+1 from me and let's stop worrying we might be going downhill. Just push this uphill, Sisephyaen style.

Then again what makes HN special to me is that it is free of otherwise very popular and frequently also great topics I agree with. Exactly because they are popular. Why should they also be popular here as well as everywhere else?

This weekend the US will be awashed in Memorial day related content. Heck, I think this would fit better on HN if it was voted up on any other time of year.

The current top comment mentions Memorial day isn't about hotdogs. But seriously is there a major US holiday less commercialized? Christmas is a god damn consumer orgy. Memorial day in my experience is still quite the thoughtful and yes memory and appreciation full holiday.

If some people voted it up for Memorial Day, so much the better for an impassioned piece of good writing. Fussell obviously deserves to be better known.

The US celebrates 'Veteran's Day' on November 11th, which coincides with Remembrance Day (or Armistice Day), though it's one of those holidays that are more of a footnote than anything else. Memorial Day apparently holds a much older heritage. According to Wikipedia:

There's a real question as to whether war ought to be shown in all its gory, butcher's window horror in the media. On the one hand, it's important people realise what war is actually like, on the other, it's easy to get desensitised to this stuff.

Personally, I've (regrettably) seen several images which indicate the reality of these things on shock sites, etc., and after a short while was rather desensitised. The images are so horrible that I just couldn't even begin to register the reality of it on any scale the way somebody who has actual experienced it would.

I really don't know whether showing these images would really get people to see the utter, utter insanity of war and the cost to these ordinary human beings, or whether people would just get desensitised.

It's an important question that ought to be explored.

Furthermore, it's pretty well-known among historians that in wars it is primarily the poor and the working middle-class, who die or suffer predominately, either as soldiers or civilians on the homefront, or as prisoners. The rich and their sons are disproportionately able to avoid harm, and especially in the case of weapons contractors or supply companies, oil suppliers, or banks, are often able to profit handsomely from wars and militarization. This is not controversial and is a repeated pattern going back at least a thousand years or so.

Also I looked at their report and it's cherry picked and very carefully worded, with several sloppy arguments, often contradicting themselves in the matter of a few sentences. Typical stuff for them.

I don't see anything wrong with their methodology, could point those out for me?

If you want to understand the war, I can't recommend this book enough. It's not a history book like most of us are used to. It's more of a social history -- the way things were and the way people experienced them. I know it changed my view of WWII forever.

War is like death: when it comes we all must deal with it, and it is a great horror upon us and society. It changes the world and the way people think about things. When modern students look back at WWII, I don't think they have any idea what they're really looking at. I am reminded of a section in the book (not sure if it's in this essay, sorry, once I realized I already have read this I skipped ahead) where two soldiers are getting off the boat at the end of the war in New York. They were given cookies and candy. One remembers that here they were for all intents and purposes cold-blooded killers coming from hell, and civilians were treating them like kids home from summer camp. Even many of the people that lived through it didn't understand the true nature of the war.

Fussell did a great job with this article and the longer book. (side note: he also did a book on WWI. Been meaning to read that as well. I believe both of these books won some awards)

> The postwar result for the Allies, at least, is suggested by one returning Canadian soldier, wounded three times in Normandy and Holland, who recalls (in Six War Years 1939-1945, edited by Barry Broadfoot) disembarking with his buddies to find on the quay nice, smiling Red Cross or Salvation Army girls. >> 'They give us a little bag and it has a couple of chocolate bars in it and a comic book. . . . We had gone overseas not much more than children but we were coming back, sure, let's face it, as killers. And they were still treating us as children. Candy and comic books.'

Max Marcus, (1923-1944), KIA, Battle of the Bulge.

George Weissman, (1925-1945), DOW, Germany.

To the uncles I never met and the cousins who never came to be.

If you were a combat theater of WWII, nothing was safe. In the air, in a sub, on the ground, in a civilian city under attack, on a ship, anything.

I recommend reading Stephen Ambrose's Wild Blue: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wild-Blue-Germany-1944-45/dp/07432. - it gives a realistic portrayal of the air combat facets of WWII and features a lot of George McGovern's personal experiences throughout.

Later, a couple men from the local resistance showed up at his house, having learned of his experience with explosives. They asked him to join, and he reluctantly agreed.

After he and a colleague blew up a local bridge, the SS came into town and carried off an elderly business owner and respected member of the community. They publicly tortured him and threatened to kill him the following day unless those responsible turned themselves in. Allegedly, that night, my grandfather was forwarded a note smuggled from the captive elderly gentleman saying that he'd lived a full life, and to not under any circumstance surrender to the Germans. He stayed hidden, and the SS executed their hostage. He never shared the note with anyone, and for a long time felt the animosity of the people in his community who reproached his actions and their gruesome consequences.

The big lesson of WW2, though, was that in modern all-out warfare the quality of individual tanks didn't really matter. What mattered was the quantity those tanks could be turned out in. The Germans, stung by the unexpected quality of Russian tanks, had turned their efforts toward building absolute monsters like the Tiger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_I) and Panther (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panther_tank). Those tanks individually outclassed any Allied tank of the era, even the Russians'. But they were so complicated to build that the Germans could only turn out a few thousand of them, which was peanuts compared to the swarms of T-34s and Shermans the Allies were cranking out. The tactical doctrine in 1944 was that it would take five Shermans, acting together, to knock out a single Tiger but US industry turned out 12,000+ Shermans that year, while German industry would only turn out around 1,000 Tigers, so five-to-one numerical superiority wasn't hard to put together. No matter how fearsome the German tanks became, they eventually got stung to death by swarms of less impressive enemies.

It beat panzers the same way American tanks beat panzers --by swarming them. It's not like Americans didn't know about sloped armor --they did. We even provided the Russians with armor --if I recall my history channel stuff. Also, the Russian tanks were prone to quality defects but they made that up with production numbers. Also their effective firing range was dismal --but again, in a swarming tactic, range is unimportant.

General Heinz Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army spearhead was ambushed near Mtensk on October 6, 1941, by a brigade of T-34s. In a brief action, T-34s under Colonel Mikhael Katukov destroyed ten Pz III and Pz IV tanks for the loss of only about five of their own. Guderian, creator of the German panzer force, was shocked. The German panzers, with their short 50mm and 75mm guns, could only penetrate the thick armor of the T-34 from point-blank range of 100m or less, but the T-34 could destroy the poorly armored Pz III and Pz IV from up to 1,000m. The T-34's mobility over muddy terrain and poor roads astonished the German tankers. Furthermore, the use of sloped armor on the T-34 and KV-1 tanks indicated that German tank design had fallen woefully behind.

Guderian came away from the battles of 1941 believing that Germany should just drop its own tank designs and straight-up copy the T-34. They didn't, of course the Panther and Tiger were supposed to be T-34 killers, but they were too difficult to produce and maintain in the field to ever really live up to that role.

Anyhow, not sure the veracity of the following link, but it provides some different opinion: http://operationbarbarossa.net/Myth-Busters/MythBusters2.htm.

Essentially, with a production run in the 55,000 range, it's no wonder it has able to overwhelm the enemy. Not unlike when Russian generals sent barely armed men against the enemy to face automatic weapons. They had the numbers.

The Germans obviously had the upper hand in the beginning as Russia was unprepared and Stalin having purged Russia's (USSR's) most able commanders (due to paranoia) before the war didn't help things. Had they been prepared Germany would not have been within 20 miles of Moscow. Germany grew overconfident and was unprepared for a war in freezing climate, whereas the Russians at least didn't have supply line issues to contend with.

Unlike the Brits and Americans though, USSR didn't have have an advantage of natural geographic isolation. It's a bit unfair to pretend Russian case was somehow fundamentally different than the others.

Can you elaborate on that? I'm not sure I follow.

Never the less, I would say the Russian front was different in that the Winters imparted severe contraints and challenges on the invading army. Another thing is Russia had the population numbers. They could afford to "throw" a generation at the Germans.

The US wasn't in the war in 1941. So there's zero head start time.

Personally, I don't think I could handle multiple daily updates for the next six years, but it's fun to check in with now and again.

Thanks Wikipedia, that was easy!

"They knew that their automatic rifles (First World War vintage) were slower and clumsier. "

This implies that the Axis had a better automatic rifle, which wasn't the case at all. The Wermacht didn't deploy an automatic rifle until the Stug44 in the last year of the war. Instead, they relied upon their bolt action rifles to provide protection to the core of the infantry unit, the MG34 and MG44.

The Japanese as well didn't use an automatic rifle in their infantry units, relying on the Ariska bolt action. The Italians too didn't use an automatic rifle to any extent.

If he wants to criticize the Army for using the BAR that's fine but to imply that US weapons (other than the atomic bomb) were inferior to their counterparts is specious. The B-24, B-29, A/B-26 were far superior to any bombers the Axis ever deployed. The P-51, P-47, and P-38 were outstanding fighters.

The deuce and a half truck (that probably won the war) was far superior to any truck the Germans had.

And other than a crappy bunch of torpedoes throughout the war, the USN was equipped with excellent ships and aircraft. Sure in the beginning of the conflict there were issues with hardware (Brewster Buffalo, Devastator torpedo bomber, etc), but to make it as if the US equipment was trash is just mistaken.

I also think the concept of superior German technology is a tiresome and often unsupported one. At the outbreak of the war there tanks were outclassed by French tanks, they relied upon hundreds of thousands of horses, so on and so forth.

High tech was almost a curse for Germany they could never build enough wonder weapons, and when one looks at the economic output of their opponents, the matter was really a foregone conclusion. Individually, the US, UK, USSR and even France before she capitulated had better economies than Germany. Now economics isn't the sole determinant when it comes to warfare, but when you're outproduced 3-1, and faced with opponents that are looking for unconditional surrender your chances are rather slim.

I can understand, as horse needs no gasoline, can move in snow, is small enough to go between trees and is more silent than most engines.

Is this referring to what I think it's referring to?

And TIL that between 500 000 and 3 000 000 Germans are estimated to have died in the subsequent forced relocation back to German territory.[3]

A memoir of one soldier's experience in the Pacific which is along the same lines as the Atlantic article is Goodbye Darkness.[4] It's a hell of a read.


Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas - History

With comprehensive captions and text this superb book tells the story of the production of the Panzer IV to the key battles in Poland, France, North Africa, Italy, Russia and North West Europe. Initially the Panzer IV was designed as an infantry support tank, but soon proved to be so diverse and effective that it earned a unique tactical role on the battlefield.

The book shows how the Panzer IV evolved and describes how the Germans carefully utilized all available reserves and resources into building numerous variants that went into production and saw action on the battlefield. It depicts how these formidable tanks were adapted and up-gunned to face the ever increasing enemy threat.

Between 1936 and 1945, over 8,000 Panzer IV&rsquos were built. For most of the war this tank was a match for its opponents&rsquo heavy tanks and quickly and effectively demonstrated its superiority on the battlefield.

The Panzer IV was the only German tank to remain in production during the war. Its chassis was converted into more models than any other Panzers that entered service. As well as the various prototype projects and command tanks, observation vehicles, ammunition carriers, recovery vehicles, amphibious armored ferry vehicles that saw service, the book will show a multiple of converted anti-tank propelled vehicles.

About The Author

Paul Thomas is an expert on WW2 fighting vehicles and avid collector of contemporary images. He lives in Braintree.


Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas - History

With comprehensive captions and text this superb book tells the story of the production of the Panzer IV to the key battles in Poland, France, North Africa, Italy, Russia and North West Europe. Initially the Panzer IV was designed as an infantry support tank, but soon proved to be so diverse and effective that it earned a unique tactical role on the battlefield.

The book shows how the Panzer IV evolved and describes how the Germans carefully utilized all available reserves and resources into building numerous variants that went into production and saw action on the battlefield. It depicts how these formidable tanks were adapted and up-gunned to face the ever increasing enemy threat.

Between 1936 and 1945, over 8,000 Panzer IV&rsquos were built. For most of the war this tank was a match for its opponents&rsquo heavy tanks and quickly and effectively demonstrated its superiority on the battlefield.

The Panzer IV was the only German tank to remain in production during the war. Its chassis was converted into more models than any other Panzers that entered service. As well as the various prototype projects and command tanks, observation vehicles, ammunition carriers, recovery vehicles, amphibious armored ferry vehicles that saw service, the book will show a multiple of converted anti-tank propelled vehicles.

About The Author

Paul Thomas is an expert on WW2 fighting vehicles and avid collector of contemporary images. He lives in Braintree.


How Israel Used Old World War II Tanks To Win War After War

The Sherman in its various configurations filled gaps in the Zahal order of battle over the course of several decades, until the Israelis gradually were able to purchase more modern tanks.

From its inception, Zahal, the Israeli Army, has been forced to use ingenuity and improvisation to arm itself against its Arab enemies. In the first years of its life, the tiny nation of Israel, surrounded by enemies pledged to its destruction, found modern weapons few and hard to come by. Such armaments were desperately needed, and the Israelis became adept at filling the gaps in their inventory by acquiring whatever weapons they could from a variety of unusual sources. Once in hand, these weapons often had to be rebuilt or modified to remain effective. Many of them would have been considered obsolete on a European battlefield, but the Israelis made them work. They had no choice—defeat meant the annihilation of their state.

One of the best examples of Israeli ingenuity is their long use of the American-built M4 Sherman tank, that ubiquitous Allied workhorse of World War II. Often decried as inferior to its German opposites because of its relatively thin armor and less effective armament, the Sherman was nonetheless rugged, reliable, and capable of being modified and improved. It was this last quality that enabled the Israelis to use it so effectively.

At its birth, Israel’s military possessed a limited number of armored vehicles, mostly scout cars and truck chassis hastily converted into armored cars with the addition of armor plating and a machine gun or two. Israel’s initial tank force consisted entirely of old French Hotchkiss tanks, obsolete even in the beginning of World War II. Desperate for better tanks, the Israelis literally went to the scrap heap: junkyards in Palestine, Europe, and as far away as the Philippines together contained hundreds of tanks left over and abandoned during the recent global war.

A British scrap yard in Palestine contained the salvageable hulks of one or two Shermans (sources differ). At least one more came from an Italian junkyard. These tanks were smuggled back to Israel, at times disguised or mislabeled as “tractors,” to become parts of the motley collection of weapons that could be used to preserve Israel’s newfound existence. Since these tanks came from junkyards, they were generally unserviceable and required extensive work to get them into shape for combat. Some of the tanks had been “demilitarized” specifically to prevent anyone from reusing them. Often, this was done by drilling holes in the cannon tube or other mechanisms needed for the main weapon. Repairs were made, and the Shermans returned to action with the Israeli Army.

The polyglot nature of the Israeli Army meant troops often were grouped into units based on their native languages. One Sherman tank and two ex-British Cromwell tanks were grouped together in an “English Company,” so named because its members all spoke English. This company was part of the 82nd Tank Battalion that helped capture Lydda Airport during the 1948 war. It also fought at Latrun, where some of its tanks were lost to an Arab Legion 6-pounder antitank gun. Fortunately for the Israelis, the Arab forces operating against them were not particularly well-mechanized for the most part.

The Improvised Sherman Tanks of Israel

After the United Nations cease-fire took hold in mid-1948, Israel used the breathing room to increase the size of its armored and mechanized forces. Although unable to purchase new vehicles, the Israelis had plenty of leftover World War II materiél to choose from, and this formed the backbone of Zahal’s strength. Quickly, a force of some 300 half-tracks and 50 tanks was assembled. Most of the tanks were Shermans, still being gathered from scrap yards throughout Europe and elsewhere. The collection was a varied one, including M4A1 and M4A2 models with diesel engines. Their armament was a cross-section of guns the Shermans had carried into battle in Europe a few years before: 75mm and 76mm cannon and 105mm howitzers a few of the tanks even sported World War I-era German-built 77mm field guns made by Krupp. These were installed to replace damaged guns or demilitarized weapons Zahal ordnance workers had been unable to restore to firing condition.

While the haphazard nature of the Zahal tank force meant a varied assortment of M4s was gathered, these followed the basic proportions of the Sherman tank. An M4A1 weighed in at 66,500 pounds. It was 19 feet, four inches long and eight feet, seven inches wide, and sat nine feet high. The crew of five included a commander, gunner, loader, driver, and assistant driver-hull machine gunner. The tank could achieve 24 mph on roads and 15-20 mph cross-country. Range varied from 100 to 150 miles, depending on engine type. The Shermans normally carried one coaxial and one hull-mounted .30-caliber belt-fed machine gun. While a .50-caliber M2 machine gun was usually fitted atop the turret, Zahal was at first short of these potent weapons and often fitted old German and Czech machine guns in their place. Later, when the French began to supply M2s, they were mounted in their original place. The Israelis gave the collective designation of M1 to its entire Sherman force.

During the 1948 war, Zahal had used its few tanks primarily in an infantry-support role, and initially that doctrinal role was retained. However, by the early 1950s this was changing. The original 82nd Tank Battalion had merged with the 9th Commando and 79th Mechanized Battalions to form the 7th Armored Brigade. Under the leadership of Uri-Ben Ari, a more offensive mind-set and tactics were practiced. In its 1952 and 1953 war games, Israeli infantry found themselves in mock retreat from attacking Shermans. This so impressed one observer of the maneuvers, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, that he ordered more Shermans acquired at once.

By fortuitous coincidence, Israel found France a willing seller of surplus Shermans at this point. At the time, the French were fighting a guerrilla war in Algeria, and Egypt was giving the rebels support. In retaliation, France approved military assistance to Israel. Besides training Zahal officers at French military schools, the French also sold them 100 new AMX-13 light tanks and 60 surplus Shermans. With this fresh infusion of equipment, the Israelis were able to form two more armored brigades.

Shermans in the Suez

In 1956, Israel began to cooperate with France and Great Britain, which had plans to seize the Suez Canal after Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized it. Israel, for its part, was upset over Egyptian border raids. With renewed fighting impending, Israel asked France to supply 100 improved Shermans known as the M50. This tank mounted a long-barreled 75mm high-velocity cannon used in the AMX-13. To accommodate the new gun, an extension was built on the turret rear and a new gun mantlet was designed. Some models used a gasoline motor for propulsion, while others employed Cummins diesel engines. These improved tanks were referred to as “Super Shermans” and had a marked increase in firepower to offset the newer Soviet T34/85s the Arab nations were then starting to receive. Only a few of the Shermans were available in time for the 1956 war. Ironically, many of the Egyptian armored vehicles initially placed in the Sinai peninsula were also Shermans, including one company of M4/FL10s, a Sherman hull that mounted an AMX-13 turret. Equivalent to the Israeli M50s, they were also French-built, although by a different company.

During Operation Kadesh, as the Israelis labeled their part in the 1956 fighting, one battalion each of the 7th, 27th, and 37th Brigades were equipped with Shermans, including the few Super Shermans. The 7th fought at Abu Ageila and sent a detachment to aid Zahal paratroopers at Mitla Pass. Both the 7th and 37th Brigades fought at Um Katef, where the commonality of tanks on the two sides caused a tragic friendly-fire incident. On November 1, as Israeli units advanced against Egyptian positions from different directions, they mistook each other for the enemy. The 7th knocked out eight of the 37th’s tanks before the situation was brought under control. (The Arab troops had quietly withdrawn before the Israeli arrival.) Overall, however, the Israelis fought well, skillfully using their old Shermans.

The M51 Isherman: A Fearsome Sherman Upgrade:

After the war Israel, now recognizing the utility and power of its armored formations, decided to increase the number of armored brigades from three to nine and organized these units into ugdas, division-sized groups that combined brigades for specific operations. As the nations opposing Israel began to shift into the Soviet bloc, Egypt and Syria in particular started receiving more advanced tanks, including T34/85s and T54s. This caused the Western nations to agree, in turn, to supply Israel, clandestinely in some cases but later openly. American M47 and M48 Pattons and British Centurions began to trickle into Zahal’s inventory. Until enough were on hand, Israel had to make do with its force of now-outgunned Shermans and AMX-13s. Something was needed to plug the gaps.

That something was the M51, also called the Isherman. This was the ultimate evolution in Sherman battle tanks. Atelier de Bourges, the French company that developed the M50 Super Sherman, developed a 105mm cannon with lower recoil that the Sherman hull and a modified turret could withstand. These T23 turrets also had new mantlets and a rear turret extension. This potent modification made the tank heavier, and to compensate for the added weight, a new Cummins 460hp diesel engine, wider tracks and a new hydraulic system were also installed. Some 200 of Israel’s Shermans were altered, breathing new life into the old design.


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