Thursday, 29 July 2021

Infantry Colonel

I'm now re-reading this first hand account of the 5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry campaign in NW Europe, from just after D-Day all the way to Germany, as it is an excellent insight into the experience of an infantry regiment at the time, with a strong emphasis on company and platoon actions. I've read it a couple of times before but, alongside the books by Ken Ford on Gielenkirchen and Vernon, it's one of the best accounts that I've come across for the 5th DCLI. It's also really useful for my Chain of Command project. Well worth tracking down a copy if you can find one.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Chain of Command British Rifle Platoon Undercoat

I have now spray undercoated the figures for my Chain of Command British platoon, using a Halfords Ultra Matt Camouflage Brown rattle can, which is what I used on my late war US platoon as a starting point. It's really good stuff and makes a great key for painting a basecoat and then subsequent layers, although it does make them look like they're made of milk chocolate. It also takes surprisingly long to do properly. As you can see, I've added a fourth section as a support option but will paint them up alongside the rest of the infantry figures. 

Never Mind the Billhooks in 15mm?

One of the Facebook groups that I've recently joined is for the Never Mind the Billhooks rules, a free set of War of the Roses large skirmish rules published as a freebie a few months ago in Wargames Illustrated. I got hold of a copy at the time and thought they looked good but wasn't prepared to paint up two whole armies in 28mm to use them with, as this would have been way too much for me to handle. However, I had a thought the other day that it would be an ideal 15mm project, especially as I already have a big box of surplus 15mm Peter Pig figures that I originally got as a birthday present several years ago.

These were supposed to be for Bloody Barons, for which I failed to drum up any interest at the club, then re-purposed for Lion Rampant, until I realised that 28mm was a much better option if single basing figures. So, they could now be re-purposed yet again, this time using multiple basing with some sort of casualty markers used to track the results of combat. I really like the idea of multiple basing, with the rules mainly using 12 man units, as I think it's ideal for 15mm and would look great, as well as being easier to handle. I'll give this some more thought as a potential project for later in the year. It would certainly be a good use for some lovely figures!

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Aircraft Sheets

I have been playing around with ideas for simplified and streamlined squadron record sheets for Bag the Hun but, in the meantime, have adapted my existing sheet for the most common two fighter aircraft of the two sides- the Ki-27 and I-16. I can't help thinking that I only need the basic data once and then could have a roster for each pilot with skill level, ammo used and damage sections on a table, rather than have individual sheets for every aircraft, as most scenarios only feature two types in total?

Monday, 26 July 2021

The Bolt Action Boys

Got to dig out these guys first!

As my wife and daughter are away, the boys can now take command of the dining room table for a try out game of the second edition Bolt Action rules. The eldest has now almost finished painting his late war German infantry platoon and I already have about 900 points of late war Americans for the Ardennes, so we'll run a simple meeting engagement scenario soon, set somewhere in the snow in late 1944. It may be a bit stop and start, as I haven't played Bolt Action in years and he's never played it before, but I'm sure we'll work it out and get there in the end?

Chain of Command British Rifle Platoon Prep

I have made some good progress this afternoon on cleaning up and basing the core platoon for the Chain of Command summer project. As you can see this consists of three rifle sections including a Bren gun team and a Junior Leader each, together with the platoon HQ of a 2'' mortar and PIAT team, a platoon sergeant Senior Leader and a lieutenant Senior Leader. I also added a support unit in the form of a platoon medic, using a Warlord Games figure with a Crusader Miniatures head attached, so that it blended in better with the other figures. The Crusader figures have virtually no flash or seams to remove and are really nice models, so I am going to add a fourth rifle section as a support unit in the initial painting plan while the rest of the support units will wait until the second phase.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Cutting Lead for Chain of Command

It's the first weekend of my summer holidays so what better time than now to start on my 2021 summer project, a late war British platoon for Chain of Command, with the first lead being sanded and scraped away on some nice Crusader Miniatures figures. I've been meaning to get on with this project for ages, so now seems like an ideal opportunity, as I won't be going abroad this year due to Covid-19, with three weeks free for uninterrupted wargaming. 

Blimey!

I am quite busy, however, as with the wife and daughter away I have to look after the boys, taking one twice a week up to London for rugby training and the other up to Fort William for a two week conservation project, which is only a ten hour drive in both directions! Nonetheless, I will have some quiet time in between to get the platoon and support units painted up, which means it should be finished by the end of August if it all goes according to plan?

Cyclops Class Breastwork Monitors

One of the things that I haven't as yet added to my Royal Navy Victorian ironclad fleet are the four Cyclops class breastwork monitors. I didn't bother with these as they were a bit of a dead end as a class, being relegated to coastal and harbour defence duties soon after commissioning, although a couple were attached to the Particular Service Squadron in the late 1870's. There didn't seem much point in painting any of them up, until I thought of using them as originally intended, which was to operate in shallow inshore waters in an offensive role. 

Although they were designed for use in the Baltic against a potential Russian naval threat, I will instead use them against the French in my 'What If?' war of the mid 1870's, this time to launch attacks into the estuaries along the Western coastline to sink enemy shipping and bombard fortifications. I have ordered a couple of ASV40 packs, each containing two models, so will able to deploy HMS Cyclops, HMS Hecate, HMS Hydra and HMS Gorgon as a shallow draft, ironclad strike force!

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Broadside and Ram Scenario Plan

I haven't played a game with my 1/2400th scale ironclads for ages, so have put some thought into devising a new scenario for my fictitious war between the French and British Empires in the early to mid 1870's. I wondered about an amphibious landing operation but have switched to a scenario based on the Battle of Basque Roads in 1809, in which an anchored French fleet was severely disrupted by a Royal Navy inshore squadron under command of Lord Cochrane. 

HMS Glatton

In my 'What If? version, set in the mid-1870's, the French fleet will set up in a similar defensive position, behind a log and chain boom. It will be attacked at night by a Royal Navy flotilla of shallow draft Cyclops class breastwork monitors, towed into place by ironclad warships, then used in a flanking manoeuvre across the shallows. There will also be an ironclad ram, probably HMS Hotspur, that can be used to breach the boom in front of the French anchorage allowing some of the larger ironclads to steam through and blast away at the anchored French fleet.

HMS Hotspur

IN addition to a well armed shore fort, the French will also get to deploy a field of tethered 'torpedoes' that can be electrically detonated from on land. I have yet to hammer out the details for Broadside and Ram but I think it will be an unusual and interesting change. I'll need to work out new rules for breaching the boom and for the mine fields, but this shouldn't be too difficult to do. As a result, I'm going to make this scenario a possible option for INWarD in a couple of weeks time.

Chilean Air Force F-16's

I finished these this morning for Naval Command, giving my Chilean naval forces some very useful air support and land based maritime strike capability. As usual, they look better at arms length and without the flash, but you'll have to take my word for it! I can also use them against my existing Peruvian Air Force Mirage 2000's and Su-22's in Target Locked On games, so it's a good addition to the 1/600th scale South American set up.

Friday, 23 July 2021

1/600th Chilean F-16's for Naval Command


While I still have what's left of my 1/600th scale painting mojo, I thought I'd paint up four Tumbling Dice F-16's for my Chilean naval forces. The Chilean Air Force has F-16's that can be loaded out with AGM-84 Harpoon anti-shipping missiles. although they don't actually have any. They can also carry a wide array of other munitions for anti-shipping attacks. I've found a really colourful low-vis camouflage scheme for them, so will get cracking today and aim to finish them off for use in up and coming scenarios.

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol 1/600th Aircraft Finished

Soviets and Japanese

I-15bis

I-153 Chaika

SB-2

Ki-10

These are all finished, ready for some playtesting of the scenarios over the next few weeks. They came out okay, especially when viewed at arms length, but they are a right bugger to paint as my eyesight isn't what it used to be. In the longer term, I'll switch back to 1/300th scale for this project, which will be a doddle to paint by comparison and will be better for any participation games I might get to run at future Lard Days, assuming that there will be another one next year? In the meantime, these will be absolutely fine for play testing purposes and for club games.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Scenario H

Kawasaki Ki-10 Type 95

This is the last in the series of scenarios for Bag the Hun, set at the end of the Nonomhan  conflict on 2nd September 1939. In this scenario a shotai of three Ki-10 biplane fighters of the 2nd Chutai, 33rd Sentai clash with nine I-16's of the 22nd IAP over Lake Buir Nuur, in a last ditch, last man standing dogfight. Outnumbered three to one, the three Japanese pilots must destroy as many of the I-16's as they can, including by deliberate ramming if they run out of ammunition (using the ramming rules on p20 of the rulebook). 

The Japanese pilots include top ace Sgt Maj Saito, together with two veterans, Lt Okamoto and Sgt Maj Ishikawa, all of whom have character cards in addition to the Shotai Move / Fire card and the Top Ace Bonus card for Saito. The Soviet pilots, under the leadership of Lt Cheremukhin, are all either veterans or regulars, with a roughly even split between the two. To give the Japanese a fighting chance in their obsolete but highly manoeuvrable biplanes, they start at ALT 4 while the Soviets start at ALT 3, although neither side has the advantage of the sun and, as the visibility is excellent, no bogey counters are used.

Vampire in the Storm Scenario: Game One

I played the Vampire in the Storm scenario using Naval Command 4th Edition yesterday, so here's a brief after action report.

Turn 1

The RAN won the initiative and both sides then moved forward 5cm, which was the maximum speed allowed in the storm force weather conditions. In the detection phase, HMAS Vampire successfully detected KRI Kakiali at long range, rolling a 10 on the D10, using her passive radar. The Indonesians were sweeping with active radar, so were out of range for detection. In the damage phase, KRI Kalkiali then rolled a 10 for storm damage, immediately causing flooding and engine/propulsion breakdown, counting as heavy damage. In the damage control phase, the flooding got worse causing further light damage. Things were not looking good for the Indonesians!

Turn 2

The Indonesians won the initiative, with KRI Kakiali swinging out of line to return to base at her top speed of 2cm, while KRI Jos Soedarso and KRI Ngurah Rai kept steaming ahead on the same course. HMAS Vampire also continued ahead with neither side making any further successful radar contacts in the detection phase. The range was too great for any gunnery, so I moved onto the damage control phase, rolling another failed attempt for KRI Kakiali which picked up an additional light damage marker, the other frigates passing the storm damage test (I decided that the Kakiali did not have to test again for storm damage).

Turn 3

The Indonesians won the initiative again, with KRI Kakiali turning for home and the other frigates and HMAS Vampire steaming onwards. No detections were made in the detection phase, so it was onto the damage control phase again, which resulted in another failed flooding roll for KRI Kakiali. This was too much and she rolled over and sank, with a total damage score of 15. The remaining frigates then passed the storm damage test, which was a relief for the crew to say the least.

Turn 4

The RAN won the initiative, which is hardly surprising in the circumstances, moving forward again to close the range. KRI Ngurah Rai peeled off to port to search for survivors while KRI Jos Soedarso steamed ahead to continue the mission. Once again there were no successful radar detections and neither frigate failed the storm damage roll, so it was swiftly on to the next turn.

Turn 5

The RAN won the initiative again. HMAS Vampire steamed forward, while KRI Jos Soedarso did the same, leaving KRI Ngurah Rai to hove to, lower boats and start the rescue operation at the location of KRI Kakiali's foundering. In the detection phase, HMAS Vampire succeeding in making a passive radar contact on KRI Jos Soedarso, while the frigate succeeded in making an active radar detection on the destroyer. Unfortanately, both ships were out of gunnery range, so it was onto the damage control phase, where KRI Jos Soedarso rolled a 10 on the storm damage test, immediately causing a flood and engine breakdown, followed by a further light damage. It really was a bad day for the Indonesians!

Turn 6

The Indonesians won the initiative, believe it or not, with HMAS Vampire now switching to active radar in the detection status phase, in order to make it easier to hit the target if there was any action. The rescue mission was scrubbed and KRI Ngurah Rai moved to re-join KRI Jos Soedarso, which was now reduced to only 2cm speed per turn. The range was still too great for gunnery, so it was on to the damage phase, with the flooding spreading further on KRI Jos Soedarso, adding another light damage. However, a successful repair roll of 10 + 1 by the crew, managed to stop the flooding and remove the flood marker, replacing it with a light damage marker instead. KRI Ngurah Rai also passed the storm damage test, so things were looking up for the Indonesians for a change.

Turn 7

I spoke too soon. The Indonesians won the initiative at the start of the turn, moving forward and bringing KRI Jos Soedarso into range of HMAS Vampire, which turned to port to take up a parallel course. There were no further detections in the detection phase, so KRI Jos Soedarso and HMAS Vampire prepared to slug it out with their guns. In the attack phase, KRI Jos Soedarso landed a single hit on HMAS Vampire, inflicting light damage and knocking out her radar. However, with double the rate of fire of the frigate, HMAS Vampire managed to score two hits on KRI Jos Soedarso, the firdt of which causing a heavy damage result and starting a fire. The second hit, along with the cumulative storm damage, resulted in a total damage score of 15, sending the frigate to the bottom! 

Turn 8

The scenario instructions clearly stated that the RAN would win if it destroyed two of the frigates, which would cause the third to disengage and escape. I decided that this objective had been met, even though KRI Kakiali had actually sunk due to storm damage and flooding, so called time on the game. HMAS Vampire had as yet not detected KRI Ngurah Rai, so she was able to slip away into the storm as she was well out of visual range and also switched off her active radar in order to disappear. As HMAS Vampire's radar was U/S, she also was unable to conduct an active radar sweep, so stopped to pick up survivors from the sunken frigate.

I really enjoyed this game and, with only a couple of tweaks to the storm damage rule, think the scenario works really well. I'll replay the same scenario using the new 2021 edition of the Naval Command rules, which have slightly different mechanisms for detection, gunnery and damage control, to see if it works out differently. Incidentally, in case you were wondering, I didn't bother with contact markers for this game, as I was playing solo and knew what was going on. It would work well with contact markers in a two player game, as this would add a further element of uncertainty. Good fun!

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Bag the Hun Soviet Aircraft Painting

I've made some good progress on the 1/600th scale Soviet aircraft today, so should be able to get the painting finished tomorrow if it all goes according to plan. I've deliberately kept the schemes simple, with bare metal for the SB-2's, enamel grey for the I-153's and dark green for the I-15bis, as this is not only reasonably accurate but also a lot quicker to do. The three Ki-10's are also coming along and will be wrapped up at the same time. It all looks a bit boring at the moment but some colour and decals will pull it all together.

Five Parsecs From Home Crew

I spent an enjoyable half an hour or so yesterday rolling up a crew for Five Parsecs From Home, after which I realised that my plan to use 15mm figures probably wasn't going to work. I went for a five man crew and ended up with three humans, a bot and a K'Erin, the background, motivation and class all working out to be really compatible, which was great. However, although I managed to sort out some suitable figures in 15mm, this left me without any other figure options except for heavily armed and armoured military types. 

Instead, I've decided to use 28mm figures, for which there are plenty available including a few in the lead pile. These are all Copplestone figures including two versions of the 'road warrior', a not terminator and a Future Wars trooper, who will inevitably end up being nicknamed 'shorty' or some such. It's as good start and only leaves the K'Erin figure to track down or convert, for which I might get a Copplestone Hunter Alien or use one of my son's left over Tau. 

To provide the opposition, I'm going to go cheap and cheerful, so ordered three single sprues of the Stargrave crew, mercenaries and troopers from the Sprue Shop. They do a really convenient bundle deal of one of each sprue for fifteen quid, which fills all the gaps I need as far a humans and humanoid aliens are concerned. I'm not keen on the figures but you can't argue with the price tag and I'm sure that some selective combinations of head, arms and weapons will produce some good results.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Kawasaki Ki-10 II (Type 95) for Bag the Hun

For the last scenario in the Khalkhin Gol project, I needed some data for the Kawasaki Ki-10 II Type 95 biplane fighters of the 2nd Chutai, 33rd Sentai. The relevant data isn't in the rulebook, so I did some cross referencing and not so in-depth research and came up with this:

SPD 5 / MAN 5 / ALT 4 / ROC 2 / ROB 1 / SIZ 1 / FRONT 4 / AMMO 10 / Note: MAN 6 at ALT 1-2.

I think this is about right and will do the trick but would appreciate some feedback, positive or negative, if you have the time and inclination? 

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Scenario G

This is one I've been looking forward to writing a lot, as it involves 'Stalin's Eagles', the ace pilots flown in to bolster the Soviet fighter regiments after their bloody nose at the start of the war, together with the first combat debut of the I-153 Chaika. In this scenario from 25th July 1939, the elite pilots of the 70th IAP under top ace Major S.Grisavets, turn the tables on the veteran pilots of the 1st Chutai, 24th Sentai under Captain S.Kani. 

In the actual engagement, the Chaikas were mistaken for I-15bis by the Japanese, easy prey for the Ki-27's, with the Soviets pretending to scarper before whipping round and 'bouncing' the unsuspecting Japanese. In the scenario, the Soviets have a Top Ace and a Junior Ace, as well as veteran pilots, with character cards for all of the Zveno leaders. The Japanese only have one Junior Ace, Lt S.Saito, but they also have character cards for the Shotai leaders and a lot of veteran pilots to even the odds.

The objective for both sides will be to shoot down or force off more than half of the enemy, with aces counting as two aircraft, which should be fun as they have equal numbers to start with!

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Soviets



Here's the last of the Soviet aircraft for the Khalkhin Gol project, ready for painting over the next few days, including nine I-153 Chaika, three I=15bis and nine SB-2 bombers. I only need three SB-2's but I thought it made sense to paint up a squadron full so that I can run some bomber escort and interception missions. These are all going to get a basic paint job of either bare aluminium, enamel grey or dark green, as I don't fancy doing tiny squiggly camouflage patterns!

Monday, 19 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today

This is a bit of a thing at the moment, so here's my five games worth, although I've squeezed in a couple more for the hell of it!

1. Tank Battles in Miniature

This was my first 'proper' wargame and I had it on permanent load from the local library until I had to give it back. I copied out all of the main rules and charts onto file cards and continued to play games even when the book had been given up, using Heroics and Ros 1/300th scale tanks. I mis-read the rules and thought you had to actually play a turn in 60 seconds, so I had a stopwatch and used it every time an individual tank had to acquire, aim and fire at a target, with the results worked out afterwards. Absolutely seat of your pants gaming and very realistic in an accidentally historical way. This book first got me into solo wargaming, so hats off to Mr Quarrie!

2. Imperial Commander


A school friend of mine bought a copy of Laserburn from the local games shop (remember those?) in Plymouth, so I decided to get my own copy, except they'd run out so I grabbed Imperial Commander instead. I couldn't afford many figures so ended up playing with a handful of 15mm Imperial Troops and Red Redemptionists a side, so this was my first skirmish level wargame in many respects. It was lots of fun at the time, although I'm not so sure how it would stack up now, having loads of tables and charts. The blurb on the front page still makes me chuckle.

3. Cry Havoc


I absolutely loved this game when I was a kid, having ordered a copy after seeing the advert on the back page of Wargames Illustrated just on the basis of the box art and the blurb. It's still my favourite 'beer and pretzels' board game by a country mile and I do play it sometimes using a second hand copy that I found on eBay. I also loved Samurai Blades but the other Cry Havoc extension games like Siege were a bit of a disappointment, mainly due to the change in art work and unrealistic maps. I went on to study medieval history and archaeology at university, so perhaps this game is why I have been a history teacher for the last thirty years?

4. AK47


When I got back into wargaming about twenty years ago, this was the set of rules that fired my interest and inspired my first painted wargames army. I still think this is one of the most enjoyable and imaginative sets of rules that I have played, perhaps because it allows you to use your imagination  and creativity when developing your forces and the narrative for your games. I love this aspect of gaming, which is diametrically opposed to the competition 'min-max' mentality of a lot of rules systems. It's also still great fun to play after many years and loads of games at the club.

5. Bag the Hun


If I look at my blog posts over the years, this is the set of rules that I've written about and played more than any other, which is interesting as it's not everyone's cup of tea and has, perhaps, fallen by the wayside compared to other TFL rules of late. It was the first game I had played in which a card based turn mechanism was used and which was also based on the idea of formations and historical tactics. It was the set of rules that shifted my interest away from land warfare and towards air and naval wargaming, which are now my main areas of interest. It also led to my first publications as a wargames scenario designer, albeit only in the TFL Specials, and gave me a taste for umpiring which I really enjoy.

Special Mentions

Contemptible Little Armies in the Back of Beyond


To finish off I wanted to include the Back of Beyond supplement for CLA, primarily as it was the set of rules for which I organised and umpired my first club campaign. It's another example of the 'What If?' style of wargaming that I really love and also the unorthodox or obscure historical setting that I prefer to the 'bog standard' wargaming themes. I really enjoyed playing this at the local club, with three full multiplayer campaigns organised and umpired over the years, although I always seemed to come last! It's probably one of the things that has most influenced my interest in campaigning and 'Imaginations' style, not too serious fun wargaming.

A Fistful of Lead: Reloaded


A few years ago I mentioned on the blog that I was a bit fed up with the Old West rules and wondered if there were alternatives worth looking at. Jaye Wiley read the post and then sent me a free digital copy of the Fistful of Lead:Reloaded rules that he had just published, which was very nice of him indeed. I immediately loved the system and the style of wargaming that it reflected, with the deck of cards turn system being a really elegant and effective feature. It's now my skirmish rules set of choice and one of my all time favourite 'fun' wargames to play, especially with the kids.

Custom Bogey Markers for Bag the Hun

These arrived from Warbases today and I'm very pleased with them, so I'll order some more for the Khalkhin Gol project later on. The Soviet ones are a bit orange rather than red, which is why I may order them in a different colour next time, but the Japanese ones look really good in green. Not bad for two quid for five and a nice variation on the original Bag the Hun counters that are no longer available.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Vampire in the Storm - An Indonesian Confrontation Scenario

The date is November 1964. 

The Daring class destroyer, HMAS Vampire, is on patrol in the Timor Sea. A tropical storm, Typhoon Louise Marge, is sweeping through the region causing widespread destruction and high seas, with storm conditions and torrential rain. Despite the terrible weather, HMAS Vampire has been ordered to patrol the area south of Sawu Island, with orders to engage any hostile forces that she encounters. 

Three Riga class frigates of the Indonesian Navy based in Kupang, KRI Ngurah Rai, KRI Jos Sudarso and KRI Kaliali have been ordered to intercept an unidentified radar contact detected by long range Soviet supplied radar on West Timor. It is suspected that enemy warships will use the cover of the weather to land special forces units on some of the many remote islands in the area, to observe naval operations and to reconnoitre then sabotage vital military installations. 

In this scenario, HMAS Vampire is deployed as a contact marker, operating with passive radar, at the Western end of the table heading East. The three Riga class frigates deploy at the centre point of the Northern long edge of the table as contact markers, with active radar switched on, heading South. The sea state is Storm and Visibility is reduced due to heavy rain (refer to p34 in the 4th edition or p17 in the 2021 edition of the rules). 

The Riga class frigates are poorly maintained and may break down due to the sea state and weather conditions, Roll a D10 for each ship in the Damage Phase; on a roll of 10 it will get Engine / Propulsion damage and Flood. This is in addition to any battle damage in the turn. No torpedoes may be used due to the seas state but gunnery is unaffected.

The objective for the RAN player is to sink or heavily damage at least two of the Indonesian frigates, which will cause the third frigate to withdraw, while the KRI player must sink or heavily damage HMAS Vampire. Any other result will be a draw. I am planning to play this scenario twice, once with the 4th Edition of the rules and then re-run it with the new, 2021 edition of the rules to see how they work.

BTH Khalkhin Gol Ki-27's Finished

1st Chutai. 24th Sentai

1st Chutai led by Captain Saiji Kani

2nd Chutai, 11th Sentai

2nd Chutai CO, Captain Koji Motomura

Ki-15 'Babs'

I've finished the two squadrons of Ki-27's and a single Ki-15 for the Khalkin Gol project, ready to start some solo scenario play testing over the next couple of weeks. This lot will cover most of the senarios that I've already written, along with the I-16's that I've already painted. I went a bit over board on the red cowlings and undercarriage but they looked a bit bland in overall grey green, so I went for the colourful option, both to make them pop but also to aid recognition when they are flying in shotai. I'm now starting on the I-153's and I-15bis for the Soviets, with a trio of SB-2's thrown in for good measure.

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