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Thread: The Butterfly Effect: A British AAR

  1. #3201
    Major Kasakka's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Ragusa View Post
    The money for the popular Front's electoral success came from Moscow. That put the communists in the driving seat. Their leaders were merely being used. Their troops came from the separatists, anarchists and communists. None of these factions interested the French and British. Not even with a barge pole.
    The anarchists were not in the government and the separatists had little to do with foreign policy. While it is certain that Moscow supported PCE it still got only a fraction of the votes of Popular Front, and was certainly the only one to gain anything from SU. That situation continued during the war, also.

    But no, the communist party by no means sat on the "driving seat" until well into the civil war, when the Soviet aid was given exclusively to them and they gained control of International Brigades. Help from France and/or Britain would have prevented exactly this of happening.

    About the troops, trade unions were the only organized groups of able-bodied men that were certainly loyal to the elected government, and this naturally resulted in that in the opening stages of the war CNT and UGT formed the fighting force or the Republic that had lost its army and could hardly count on Assault or National Guard. Basque contribution was rather minnow, and Catalonian nationalists were dispersed into CNT's, POUM's or PSCE's militia troops never forming their own forces.

    While the factions you mentioned wouldn't have "interested" British or French governments, with the tiniest bit of hindsight they would've known that the benefits of supporting the first ones to stand against the fascists would have easily surpassed the negative results.

    EDIT: I would love to hear someone explain possible negative effects of supporting the Republicans to me, btw.
    Last edited by Kasakka; 23-04-2010 at 01:05.
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  2. #3202
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Ragusa View Post
    The money for the popular Front's electoral success came from Moscow. That put the communists in the driving seat. Their leaders were merely being used. Their troops came from the separatists, anarchists and communists. None of these factions interested the French and British. Not even with a barge pole.
    What role does money play in a Spanish election in the 1930's? Success on the back of their media buy in the Aragonian print media market? A mail out to all Seville voters paid for by Uncle Joe? Gulag made rosettes, buttons and bumper stickers?!?

    Azana was a moderate, the Cortez representation of the Popular Front was from moderate and Socialist members in the main.

    The Communists were ordered by Stalin to be part of the Popular Front but to maintain a low profile so as not to upset or scare the Democracies. After all, this was a time when he was attempting to negotiate treaties with them against the Fascists.

    It was only after the abandonment of the legitimate government of Spain by the democracies that the PCE began to increase its influence, as the moderates sucked up to their 'saviours'. After the blockade was put in place no one could buy a pencil from abroad without Soviet help!

    Dury.

    P.S. All this political talk... someone give me an update to read!
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  3. #3203
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kasakka View Post
    EDIT: I would love to hear someone explain possible negative effects of supporting the Republicans to me, btw.
    Morocco being granted its independence, a dangerous socialist government in Western Europe, effectively ending any hopes of the Spainish royal family regaining their throne... basically leaving the wrong sort of chaps in charge of the place!

    Sorry, my tongue got stuck in my cheek there for a minute...

    The answer to your question isn't as easy as all that. It depends greatly on one's point of view and I can understand, if not agree, with the reasoning of the Democracies of the time.

    It's impossible for someone post war to place their moral understanding of Fascism over how it was perceived at the time compared to Communism, especially by the ruling class in the UK.

    However this AAR has given us an opportunity to explore what would have happened if the Republicans were given backing by France, after their split with the more conservative British.

    I hope for the best (for Republican Spain) but I'll be happy as long as it's entertaining and up to Pippy's usual high standards... oh, and it's delivered post haste!

    Dury.
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  4. #3204
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duritz View Post
    Morocco being granted its independence, a dangerous socialist government in Western Europe, effectively ending any hopes of the Spainish royal family regaining their throne... basically leaving the wrong sort of chaps in charge of the place!
    Empire dismantling and Royal Family sidelining?

    Bring on the support, France!
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  5. #3205
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien View Post
    Empire dismantling and Royal Family sidelining?

    Bring on the support, France!
    Yanks...

    *shakes head in disgust*
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  6. #3206
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Ragusa View Post
    The money for the popular Front's electoral success came from Moscow. That put the communists in the driving seat. Their leaders were merely being used. Their troops came from the separatists, anarchists and communists. None of these factions interested the French and British. Not even with a barge pole.
    So, it was Moscow's money who caused the Leftist victory in 1931, too?

    The communists, leading? Until 1937 that did not happen. Only after the Democracies gave their back to the Republicans. Congratz, Chamberlain et Daladier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duritz View Post
    Morocco being granted its independence, a dangerous socialist government in Western Europe, effectively ending any hopes of the Spainish royal family regaining their throne... basically leaving the wrong sort of chaps in charge of the place!
    All this because the Republic survives in Spain? Nonsense.

    The Spanish Republic was more than Socialists and Communists -the former a sheer minority until the SCW made them bigger.

    And, bearing in mind how "wonderful" had been the rule of Alfonso XIII... no wonder that (almost) nobody wanted him back.
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  7. #3207
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    Forget this Spanish nonsense, where are the tractors and the agriculture p0rn?
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  8. #3208
    saw what you did there Davout's Avatar
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    Quite so, Sir Humphrey. I think we can take Dury's posts as a de facto update and move on to more interesting stuff - such as turnips and barley yields.

    BTW, I hope Sir Humphrey and Dury have a memorable ANZAC day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Humphrey View Post
    Forget this Spanish nonsense, where are the tractors and the agriculture p0rn?
    Good idea! Draco, let's repeat Chamberlain mistake, indeed! Spain is not of our concern!


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  10. #3210
    Of course Moscow financed the left in the 1930s. The Spanish Socialists were members of the Internationale. Moscow loved Popular Fronts. There always was, to use Lenin's phrase, a useful idiot available. Then they built up the Communist Party in both Spain and France.

    I drew a distinction about where the troops fighting for the Republic came from. That's what made it a no-no for Britain and France to support.

  11. #3211
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davout View Post
    Quite so, Sir Humphrey. I think we can take Dury's posts as a de facto update and move on to more interesting stuff - such as turnips and barley yields.

    BTW, I hope Sir Humphrey and Dury have a memorable ANZAC day.
    Such cheek...

    Yes thanks, most enjoyable... Lest we Forget!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Ragusa
    Of course Moscow financed the left in the 1930s. The Spanish Socialists were members of the Internationale. Moscow loved Popular Fronts. There always was, to use Lenin's phrase, a useful idiot available. Then they built up the Communist Party in both Spain and France.
    Maybe, but only if it can be said that I finance the Australian Labor Party... and trust me when I say my financing gets me f*** all say!
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  12. #3212
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    But yay, update!
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  14. #3214
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    Chapter XCIII: Warfare by Other Means


    The winter months had seen the front lines in the Spanish Civil War go 'quiet', a handy euphemism that meant only light casualties for both sides from skirmishes, raids and snipers, but had seen the overall conflict intensify as the armies re-equipped with new, modern arms and the high commands settled began to settle their differences, though not in the way most had hoped for the previous autumn. Beginning with the later the winter months in Spain were marked by a quiet astonishing number of accidents, senior commanders and political leaders on both sides perishing in crashes, collisions or just simply disappearing. While there were undoubtedly some genuine accidents the shear number of fatal incidents in such a short time span pointed to something more, a conclusion that the factions at the time were quick to leap to. The problem then, as now, is separating genuine accident from deliberate sabotage, the lack of evidence and the surfeit of suspects with strong motivation means any judgment is almost inevitably subjective.

    A good example is the death of General Fransicso Franco in a plane crash in late December 1936, his Ju-52 coming down somewhere in the Sierra Madrona mountain range while Franco was traveling from his HQ on the Southern front to a meeting in Madrid. By this time a pattern was already starting to emerge so many people were receptive to the idea that it was no accident, a line heavily pushed by both his local supporters and the Abwher contingent, and with the crash site hidden in the mountains there was no clear evidence either way. It is indicative of the problems in the Monarchist camp that many of the leading suspects were notionally on the same side as the deceased general; the pro-British group around Generals Mola and Sanjurjo, the British themselves acting independently, the monarchist wing of his notional allies the Falange Española (Spanish Phalanx) and, almost as an afterthought, the Republicans and their foreign backers.


    The Junkers Ju-52 in Lufthansa markings. The aircraft that crashed carrying General Franco was also a Lufthansa machine but had Luftwaffe pilots who had been 'temporarily' transferred to Iberia just prior to the coup. The aircraft, and pilots, were immediately pressed into military service by the Monarchists and formed part of the air taxi service used by the Monarchists to travel around Spain. After the crash the Abwher contingent in Spain faced the task of explaining the accident to their paranoid masters, as these men would never accept it had been a simple accident there were three choices; pilot error, mechanical error or sabotage. The first two would involve blaming either the skill of picked Luftwaffe pilots or German engineering, hardly wise choices in the poisonous world of German internal politics, and so sabotage was the preferred explanation, the story soon morphing into an elaborate Franco-Soviet conspiracy involving the NKVD and Deuxième Bureau collaborating to undermine German influence.


    To this day there is no definite answer and, to be frank, it is of little importance, save to specialists in the field. Regardless of who was to blame, or if it was in fact just an accident, it was but one death among many. Along with Franco, the notionally pro-British General José Sanjurjo, the Falange leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera (who, ironically, had only escaped a Republican firing squad in the autumn) and the hard right Acción Española (Spanish Action) leader Víctor Pradera all suffered mysterious, but fatal, accidents. The Republicans were not immune from these fratricidal accidents, in the same time period the President of the Cortez Diego Martínez Barrio, the leading Basque politician Juan de Ajuriaguerra and the President of the Parliament of Catalonia Joan Casanovas i Maristany all died in suspicious circumstances. If one accepts that these accidents were in fact deliberate, then it is not a huge leap to conclude that many of these deaths were arranged in retaliation for previous 'accidents', a self feeding spiral that was only broken with the re-starting of hostilities as the factions were forced to unite against their common enemies. However both sides were left weakened and more divided, already fractious relations poisoned still further by mistrust and suspicion and all the work on improved co-ordination and co-operation was undone.

    Turning to the matter of the re-arming and re-equipping of the two armies we can see the very definite influence of the foreign backers on the conflict, not just on the battlefield but on the political front; the faction that controlled (or was chosen to receive) the armament flow gaining in power and influence. On the Monarchist side there was an almighty fight between the British and German factions with a Spanish faction in the middle trying to play one of the other to secure the best deal for Spain. The British faction was very much in the ascendancy, with General Mola and the Carlists in control of Madrid and the ports of La Coruna they held both the financial might of Spain and the friendly Bay of Biscay ports. With Spanish waters still hotly disputed, at least inside the 6nm territorial limit, the only safe way into Monarchist Spain was either via Gibraltar or with a Royal Navy escorts, merchants who risked independent blockade running soon discovered the Republican coastal forces compensated for their old equipment with lashings of daring. With the German merchant marine being far too small to carry any noticeable amount of goods and most neutrals hamstrung by their governments refusal to recognise Monarchist Spain (neutral trading rights only applied to recognised governments) the British faction had control of the money, the ports and the shipping, sufficient to squeeze out almost all competition.


    The Corta Atalaya mine in Huelva province Andalusia, the founding mine of the Rio Tinto Company and symbol of British influence in Spain. With hard currency reserves being rapidly burnt through, and much of the Gold reserves on their way to the vaults of London, the issue facing the Monarchists was how to pay for further purchases. Where the Republicans had to make do with agricultural exports the Monarchists had the far more valuable option of strategic raw materials, with the best mines in the country under their control the only question was who to sell to. The German contingent pushed government to government arrangements, a plan that would require more centralised control of the mining industry and the breaking of many existing contracts to supply the new Spanish-German trade. While this plan was attractive to the Falangist groups, particularly Franco's successor Manuel Hedilla who saw an opportunity to impose corporatism on the mining industry, it was naturally fiercely opposed by the mostly British owned and controlled mining industry. In the end these groups won out, gaining the support of the ‘Spain first’ faction of the Monarchist coalition by arguing a reduced (German only) customer base could only lead to less competition, lower prices and so less revenue for Spain. In the end therefore the government merely jacked up the mineral duties the mines had to pay and allowed the mines to continue to sell to whoever they pleased, provided the prices stayed high.


    This domination of supply, while excellent for the British arms industry, did not help the Spanish field armies re-equip. There was a marked reluctance in Whitehall to allow anything too modern to be exported, thus when the Monarchists needed new rifles for the new units they were raising (the stockpiles in the Toledo Arsenal having been seized by the Republicans at the start of the war) Britain responded not with the then standard Rifle No. 1 Mk III but with supplies of the older Pattern 1914 Enfield rifle. This strategy also limited the Monarchists to RAF surplus biplanes (of which the RAF had more than enough thanks to Churchill’s cull) and the low mark Light Tanks (in truth machine gun armed tankettes) that the Royal Armoured Corps was rapidly phasing out. There was also a smattering of German equipment as the Reich continued it’s bid for Spain’s raw materials, most significantly a growing number of ‘dual purpose’ Lufthansa aircraft and a company of Panzer Is (another tankette design that the German army considered fit only for training duties). While these new weapons were a vast improvement over what the Monarchists had, years of under funding had left the Spanish army very badly equipped outside the prestige units of the Army of Africa, they were some way from the cutting edge and their effectiveness rested on the assumption France would be equally wary in releasing her best equipment.

    The Republicans had a similarly constrained supply arrangement; the simplest and safest way into or out of Spain for any supplies was over the border to France, a route that avoided the risks of the Monarchist naval blockade and the costs of along sea journey to the Soviet Union or even further. This advantage, combined with the French governments covert assistance to the Republican’s trading efforts (through price floors/ceilings and import/export guarantees) made France the main trading partner for the Republicans, the Soviets reluctantly chipping in with grudging credit sales depending on the month to month political situation. It is perhaps worth mentioning the attempts by the Mexican government and it’s revolutionary leader Presidents Lázaro Cárdenas to assist the Republicans, not so much for the actual effect on the Spanish Civil War (which was minimal) but for the political symbolism. That a leader with a history of nationalisations and land seizures would back the Republicans shook the confidence of the US firms who were trading (mostly on credit) with Valenica. While the continuing French presence was enough reassurance for most firms, the efforts of Cárdenas only fuelled the growing unease that President Landon’s ‘Moral Neutrality’ had picked the wrong side to back.

    As France was the main supplier of weapons to the Republicans it is on their supplies that we shall focus. To the infantry the French mostly sold obsolete equipment; due to years of neglect most of France’s Great War era light arms were still in front line service with the French Army, so only truly ancient weapons, such as the fifty year old Lebel Model 1886 rifle, were available for sale to the Republicans. In contrast the French aviation industry had kept up with the advance of technology and so had a wide array of relatively modern, but nevertheless obsolete, designs to sell. Indeed the Armée de l'Air was able to follow the example of the RAF and transfer relatively new but unwanted biplanes, such as the woeful Nieuport-Delage NiD 52, onto unsuspecting Republican squadrons. However as the Armée de l'Air had not committed to the complete abandonment of biplanes the most recent, and thus best performing, designs were kept back for frontline service. As such the Republican airforce would remain at something of a disadvantage; a badly handling and lumbering NiD 52 was no match for the far faster Hawker Fury.

    There was however one area where the French sales would give the Republicans a massive advantage; armour. Despite intending to follow the example of the other Great Powers and limit sales to tankettes, the catastrophically unreliable but otherwise unexceptional AMR33 was ear marked as an early candidate, the ongoing and politicised saga of French tank development through up an alternative; the Hotchkiss H35. Originally developed as a light infantry tank it had been rejected in late 1936 by the infantry after the final ‘series’ model proved to be significantly worse than the prototypes, particularly off-road. With the economy still in recession and volume production already underway cancelling the order was politically all but impossible, so the design was foisted upon the Cavalry as a substitute for the formidable (but overly complicated and far too expensive) SOMUA S35. The Cavalry however managed to avoid being lumbered with the design by suggesting it instead be sold to France (and not so subtly suggesting they receive the funds raised to buy what they actually wanted).

    Thus it was that the Hotchkiss production run ended up in Republican service, by the start of the 1937 campaigns 200 tanks, enough for a full armoured division, had reached the front line. While it was slower and far less capable off-road than the Monarchist’s tankettes, the H35 had a 37mm SA 18 main gun and a full 40mm of turret armour, making it the most deadly tank in Spain at the time, considerably better than anything the Monarchists could field. This success was only enhanced by the failure of their opponents to notice the purchase, the Monarchist instead being distracted by higher profile but actually insignificant arrivals, such as the half a dozen US M2A2s that breached the blockade and were promptly paraded through Valencia to great fanfare. Overall the Republicans entered the 1937 campaigning season with a significant advantage on land, the question would be how they played their new ace to best effect.

    ---
    Notes;

    Game Effect is easiest, the Mons get an old LARM division while the Reps get a modern ARM. Both sides also get a dash of supplies and the Reps get a load of oil as well. All that by event naturally. Net result is the Reps actually have slightly more armoured units and enough oil/supplies to keep them running for the year. If the AI can take advantage of that is a different question though.

    For the rest a swathe of minister and generals on both sides have been removed, much to my surprise the random generator selected Franco to die on the Monarchist side so I just went with it. OTL of course he was the one arranging the 'tragic' accidents, TTL he's one of the first victims.

    Trade wise the blockade is much, much more effective than OTL, mainly because the RN and MN are scouting for their respective factions and unofficially enforcing the blockade. While everyone is safe in international waters both sides are patrolling the 6nm limit (as it was then) with a vengeance.

    With no gold the Soviets are not keen while the Mexicans are frustrated by the unofficial blockade, however I imagine it would have spooked US business which is just starting to work out they may be backing the wrong side. On the other side the German OTL scheme to control all Spanish mining dies a death as they just don't have the leverage, hence Britain controls the arm trade and the German raw materials crunch is brought forward a few months.

    Finally the H35 was a decent enough light infantry tank for the mid-1930s, however it did have terrible off-road ability so ended up being dumped on the cavalry who didn't actually want an infantry tank. It therefore seemed obvious enough that it would end up being diverted to Spain, a win-win for everyone on the Franco-Republican side.
    Last edited by El Pip; 28-04-2010 at 19:12.
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  15. #3215
    Interesting development. With Franco dead, that takes away much of the controversy as the fascists will be too weak to seize control as long as the monarchists don't do anything stupid. The fact that the republicans now rely on France for a reliable source of weapons also means the soviets can't get too extortionate, or else they become expendable, removing another radical side from the conflict. No matter who ends up winning, I see either a pro British or French Spain, either of which will make a potential ally against Nazi Germany (though the Nationalist camp might still have too many Phalangist and Abwehr people to make that a certainty).

  16. #3216
    First Gandhi, now Franco--what next, Hitler run down by a drunken cabbie?

    Sounds like the winners of this round are the British (controlling the arms and raw materials trades) and the Republicans (best surplus hardware).
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  17. #3217
    Hahaha. Picasso will paint Guernica with British Bombers!!!
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  18. #3218
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    OK with everyone? Moving on (or back in this case)
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    Seriously though, great update.
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  19. #3219
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    Hmm, an interesting mixture of events...

    The pro-Franco influence (country, not the dead guy) for the Republicans is a good sign.

    From what I can tell the air war will be less decisive. Although the advantage will remain with the Monarchists (as it did with the Nationalists) the quality of the machines is poorer across the board and should lead to air power playing less of a role than it did historically.

    On land the advantage of the H35's over the Vickers lights and Mk I's will be similar to the Soviet T26's over the Fiats and Mk I's in OTL while the infantry weapons were a mess anyway. However the Republicans historically suffered from a lack of a standardised rifle and had terrible trouble with ammunition supply as a result so even an obsolete French rifle supplied en masse would help alleviate that problem. The lack of a Soviet backed agenda in officer selection should also lead to better middle officers... however I'm mindful of Pippy's comments regarding trouble afoot...

    Strategically, I'm not sure what the Monarchists would do - a drive on Valencia or Barcelona are the obvious choices - but the Republicans will hopefully avoid the terrible 'propaganda' battles the Soviet advisors forced on them. Historically the professional soldiers planned an offensive designed to split up the Nationalist zone but I see them attempting to take only one target at the moment - Madrid. It will be interesting to see if they attempt an envelopment. Historically the Republican forces showed the ability to plan this type of battle... if not actually pull it off!

    Lovely work Pippy, can't wait for the campaigning season to begin!

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  20. #3220
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    A good example is the death of General Francisco Franco in a plane crash in late December 1936, his Ju-52 coming down somewhere in the Sierra Madrona mountain range while Franco was traveling from his HQ on the Southern front to a meeting in Madrid.
    Excellent way to start an update.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    Sanjurjo [...], José Antonio Primo de Rivera [...] and [...] Víctor Pradera all suffered mysterious, but fatal, accidents.
    Well, all of them were fated to die before 1936 ended...

    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    particularly Franco's successor Manuel Hedilla
    Hardly. Franco, in OTL, supressed Hedilla, who was Primo de Rivera's successor in Falange, and condemned him to death, which was not carried out.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    Overall the Republicans entered the 1937 campaigning season with a significant advantage on land, the question would be how they played their new ace to best effect.
    If competent officers are in charge of the Republican army, they may have a chance. If they manage to keep the Communist and Anarchist leaders at bay, indeed...
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