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Jagdtigers in combat?

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by Ceraphix, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. Ceraphix

    Ceraphix Member

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    I was just wondering if anyone has any info on actions involving the successful use of Jagdtigers. Everywhere I look it just talks about how mechanically unstable they were and not how they actually performed in combat :( (Then again this may be because they were produced in small numbers towards the end of the war)
     
  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    [SIZE=+1]SdKfz 186 Jagdtiger[/SIZE]Following the Heereswaffenamt policy of the time, a limited traverse tank destroyer version of the Tiger II was also produced. A needless outgrowth of the same idea as the Jagdpanther, this vehicle, the heaviest armored fighting vehicle to go into service, was designated Jagdpanzer VI, Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf. B or Jagdtiger. The Jagdtiger was first shown as a full scale iron model in October 1943 and a total of 150 vehicles was ordered, but due to shortages of components and disruption by bombing only 70 machines were built, 48 of them in 1944. Through very heavy, and limited by its requirements for good roads and bridges, the Jagdtiger was a very effective tank destroyer, able to knock out virtually any Allied tank at very long range. [​IMG][​IMG]
    The 128mm Pak 80 (L/55), the most powerful anti-tank gun to be used during the war, was mounted centrally in the front plate within a cast bell-shaped gun shield similar in design to that of the Tiger II. The heavy rounds were split for ease of handling by the loader, with the disadvantage that it made for a lower rate of fire than other tank-destroyers which employed fixed ammunition. [​IMG][​IMG]
    Jagdtigers of sPzAbt 512 in the Ruhr, April 1945Front vehicle with opened double doorsThe front plate of the fixed turret was 250mm thick and sloped back at 15 degrees; it was made of one piece of solid cast steel. The sides of the hull were combined into one piece with the sides of the turret and like the Tiger II were 80mm thick and sloped at 25 degrees. Not all produced vehicles mounted the 128mm gun due to shortage, and some early Jagdtigers were armed with the 88mm Pak 43. One of the Jagdtigers was experimentally equipped with the torsion bar suspension designed by Dr Porsche, having eight axles each side as against nine in the Henschel design. [​IMG]
    The Porsche Jagdtiger on trials
    [​IMG]

    Like the Tiger II, Jagdtigers were allocated to schwere Panzerjäger Abteilungen. Jagdtiger Abteilung 512 was formed in the late fall of 1944 and was equipped with 20 Jagdtigers (instead of 48 ordered). There were two companies, each with 10 vehicles. Two Jagdtigers were in each HQ section, and four more were in each platoon. The two companies, named "(Otto) Carius" and "(Albert) Ernst", fought as separate units in Germany's last battles. The first action of sPzAbt 512 was against the new American bridgehead in Remagen, where the Allied forces had been able to cross the Rhine. The action failed, and during their retreat the Jagdtigers could destroy following Sherman tanks at a distance of two kilometers and more. After fighting in the Ruhr area, the battalions surrendered to American forces. The Jagdtigers of sPzAbt 512 were overall dark yellow, and no numbering system is known.

    second generation tank destroyers -page 2
     
  3. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Operational history

    s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653

    The first unit to receive the Jagdtiger was s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653, as a replacement for the Elefant. The unit was sent to Fallingbostel, where they were trained using Porsche Jagdtiger. The first vehicles arrived in 1944-09, at which time the unit still had a few Elefants left (these were given to the second company, until Jagdtigers could replace them), along with some Flakpanzer IVs. The crews of the first company were sent to Fallingbostel, where they recieved training. First three Jagdtigers in this unit was 305006, 305007 and 305008.
    In October, the unit moved out. s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 was assigned to the 17.Armee in Poland, during which time the third company also recieved some Jagdtigers. Production was slow, and in November, the unit had only 12 Jagdtigers. 6 more Jagdtigers recieved during November. In December, it was planned that the Jagdtigers should have taken part of the Ardennes offensive. 16 Jagdtigers are loaded onto trains, and two of the three trains unloaded 50 km. behind the front (as part of the 6.SS-Armee). Some Jagdtigers are diverted to Operation Nordwind, as part of the 17.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division. Despite accounts that the Jagdtigers were used during the Ardennes offensive, there are no prrof which supports it. There are no photographs of any Jagdtigers during the Ardennes, and crew testimoneys say that they were not. The main reason the Jagdtiers didn't reach the front is the logistic situation, which was worsened by the offensive and the weather. During December and January, second company is equipped with Jagdtigers.
    In 1945-01, the Jagdtigers were to take part of Operation Nordwind, but the s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 was still on the train waggons as the offensive started. Still together with the 17.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 attacked the Maginot line. By 1945-01-09 the first Jagdtiger is destroyed by a bazooka. The use of Jagdtigers is limited, and reports about the high number of breakdowns are sent to Hitler. Some Jagdtigers, more or less intact, are captured by the US forces. It is ironic, that most of the Jagdtigers found in good condition, whereas the Jagdtigers destroyed by their crew were in such devastated condition, that almost nothing could be extracted from the wreck. Medio January, third company Jagdtigers are still at the Maginot line, attacking bunkers, but preperations for the Siegfreid line is underway, including some Jagdtigers. These are commanded by the XXXIX.Panzerkorps. In the beginning of February, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 had 41 Jagdtigers, of which 19 needed repair. The unit is ordered to the Hagenau forest on 1945-02-18, where it is used as indirect artillery at rages of above 20 km. At the end of February, most of the units Jagdtigers are just waiting in hidden positions, awaiting Allied attacks.
    During the begining of March, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 was refitted with repaired Jagdtigers while waiting for orders. 1945-03-11, the unit actually reached its maximum capacity. On the night between 1945-03-15 and 1945-03-16, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 was involved in heavy combat. On 1945-03-15, the Allies had bombarded and afterwards attacked the German positions, and s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 was sent out to counter-attack the Allied forces. Neither the Allies, not the Germans, could go anywhere, and both sides recieved heavy losses. The Jagdtigers inflicted heavy casualties among the Allied tanks and infantry, but Allied artillery took several hits, and the Germans needed to tow 21 Jagdtigers away. Later that month, it was proved that the 12,8 cm Pak 80 was capable of taking out Allied tanks at ranges up to 4,000 metres. An Allied Sherman column was all but destroyed by heavy fire, while the Sherman crews panicked. Having called in air suport, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 had to retreat as P-47s showed up. 5 Jagdtiger were hit, of which 4 were destroyed. To save s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 from more losses, it was withdrawed from the front. Meanwhile, several Jagdtiger were destroyed by Allied infantry and tanks, of which one was destroyed by point-blank range by 3 Shermans. At Neustadt, 3 Jagdtigers did manage to take out 25 M10s and Shermans, and although the Jagdtigers took several hits, they didn't suffer any casualties, and were able to withdraw.
    On 1945-03-28, Leutnant Hans Knippenberg recieved the Iron Cross first class.
    At the beginning of April, there were only 24 Jagdtigers remaining. After the first 9 days, the number is down to 17. Some crew members are sent to Nibelungenwerke. On 1945-04-26, only 1 Jagdtiger is fully operational, with 14 waiting repair. In May, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 retreats into Austria, to get to Nibelungenwerke, during which 10 Jagdtiger are blown up due to failures. After coming to Nibelungenwerke, eight Jagdtigers are blown up on the assembly track, as they do not have any sighting devices (this is alledgedly the eight Jagdtigers with the 8,8 cm Pak 43s). The unit continued to give resistance until 1945-05-07, where the unit surrenderes.
    Besides the Jagdtigers, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653 also had Bergepanthers and Sd.Kfz.9s, Flakpanzer IVs (of which some were Wirbelwinds, some 3,7 cm Flakpanzer IVs and some Sd.Kfz.7/1s), and several guns, halftracks and trucks.
    s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512

    The second unit to recieve the Jagdtiger was s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 It was not equipped with as many Jagdtigers as s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653, and accounts are more blurry, but it still deserves mentioning.
    The story of s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 starts in 1945-01, but it was not until February that the unit started to recieve any Jagdtigers. This was due to time-consuming quality inspections, and later technical difficulties were also to give great problems for the unit. Starting with 5 Jagdtigers (officially given on 1945-01-30), the unit slowly worked against a goal of 33 Jagdtiger. This was never to be reached, and other Panzers (Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H and Sturmgeschütz IIIs) were used in stead as compensation. A further 6 Jagdtigers were recieved in February. During the first half of March, the second company was still recieving training. Because many of the crewmembers were used to the Tiger tank, they didn't like the Jagdtiger much (due to the lacking turret, lower flexibility, etc.). Trying to drive to the Rhine to plug a gap, they experienced so many logistic problems that they were unable to reach their destination in time. On 1945-03-24, 5 Jagdtigers were used as the rear guard of a failed Allied attack. Although s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 have some great oppotunities to fight, they didn't exploit them. At one point, the unit lost 2 Jagdtigers due to some of the crews panicking, and running the vehicles down.
    Meanwhile, the first company of s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 had little success as well. While destroying two Shermans, the unit lost four Jagdtiger due to mechanical failures. After this, by the end of March, the first company recieved four Sturmgeschütz III and four Pz.Kpfw.IVs. After some small fighting, the Jagdtigers were commandered to Unna to assist Model here. A third company of s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 saw a little action around Paderborn, and although the unit managed to hold the Allies back along with a few Tigers and Tiger IIs, they were destroyed rather quickly.
    During April, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 saw quite a great deal of action. Especially on 1945-04-09, where the first company managed to engage an Allied column of Shermans and trucks from dug-down positions. Four Jagdtigers, four Sturmgeschütz IIIs and three Pz.Kpfw.IVs opened fire at the same time, and managed to destroy 11 tanks and over 30 softskins. Some of the enemy tanks were hit at more than 4,000 m. The combat unit only lost 1 Jagdtiger as P-47s appeared. This is more likely the scene which George Forty refers to in his book German Tanks of World War II). The company managed to destroy five Shermans before having to surrender in Iserlohn. The second company still fought on, but with little result. On 1945-04-15, the unit surrendered at Schillerplatz in Iserlohn without fighting.
    As s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 also had Bergepanthers and Sd.Kfz.9s, Flakpanzer IVs (of which some were Wirbelwinds, some 3,7 cm Flakpanzer IVs and some Sd.Kfz.7/1s), and several guns, halftracks and trucks.
    Other units

    It is uncertain exactly which units the Jagdtiger was given to. Sources are blurry, but evidence suggest the s.Pz.Abt.510 as one source (as no other can account for 2 missing Jagdtigers) and the s.SS.Pz.Abt.501, under 1.SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, either with crewmembers from s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653, or actual Waffen-SS crew. It is, however, very uncertain.
    Conclusion

    The Jagdtiger was certainly an impressive creation, and was intimmidating for the Allied crews. Still, it was a waste of steel and manpower, which could have been produced to manufacture Jagdpanthers or Tiger IIs. The extremely low number produced meant, that it had no influence at all on the war. Many Jagdtigers were destroyed by their crews due to machanical failure. One could say that the confidence in the Jagdtiger was also more vital than the results they showed, as Hitler believed strogly in this new wonder-weapon. Today, the only Jagdtigers in existence are Fgst.305004 in Bovington Camp, England, Fgst.305020 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, USA and Fgst.305083 in the Kubinka tank museum, Russia.


    Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf.B "Jagdtiger"
     
  4. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    “Jagdtiger” from Heavy Tank Destroyer Battalion 653, the first such vehicle ever knocked out on the Western Front. At 79 tons, the heaviest ever committed to combat, it was completely destroyed probably by hits from the M36 Slammer's tank destroyer 90mm main gun.

    The destruction of this Hunting Tiger caught the attention of Hitler himself. Every day, Hitler was personally briefed about the position of each Jagdtiger tank. Infatuation with massive weapons even superseded his critical and pressing responsibilities as the supreme warlord.
    [​IMG]Conflict surrounds the credit for the destruction of this Jagdtiger. Two sources are credited with the 'kill': 1- A well placed bazooka shot; 2- A long-range precision round from a 90mm gun on a 776th 'Slugger' tank destroyer.[​IMG]

    The 'Hunting Tiger' was one Hitler's favorite new wonder weapons. Hitler personally saw to it that the Nordwind battle order employed most of the few German armored units equipped with the scarce Hunting Tiger, such as PanzerJager Abteilung 653. With its 128mm main gun, he correctly determined that no recently liberated Maginot pillbox or minor bunker could withstand a Hunting Tiger direct hit. During Nordwind, such American desperation 'hold at all costs' stands against this monster proved futile. The pillbox served as a mass grave. At 2,000 meters, 2.4 meters of concrete were penetrated by the main gun.

    Hitler commanded tank commanders that, should a Jagdtiger become separated or immobilized, to dig in, hull down, and become one more 'Festung' or German strong-point. The immobile super assault panzer functioned as a self-contained fortress.


    Panzer Battles: Nordwind
     
  5. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Let's start with numbering: s. PzJr Abt 512 fielded, realistically, just two of its three companies. The third, 3/512 under O. Lt. Schrader, didn't see action until March 1945 when US forces were approaching the Kummersdorf training grounds where the unit was.
    The other two companies used the following numbering system:
    1/512 the marking X plus the vehicle number in sequence from 1. That is X1, X2, X3...
    2/512 may have also used X or Y in the same fashion but it appears their vehicles did not have tactical marks.
    3/512 used Y in the same fashion.
    Not all vehicles in the companies were marked. But, most, if not all of those in 1/512 were.

    As far as combat goes, the JadgTiger proved very occasionally a formidable opponet. Most of the time, the vehicle proved highly unreliable frequently failing mechanically in tactical situations leading to abandonment and destruction by the crew. The primary culprits were the transmission and track / suspension system, particluarly the Porsche suspension.

    First combat occured between 5 and 9 January 1945 when vehicles from s. PzJr Abt 653 destroyed two Shermans. The next action, at Rimling, involved three vehicles from this unit one of which was hit by a bazooka round and destroyed when its ammunition load detonated. This was Jadgtiger 134 (wk nr 305024 Uffz Fritz Jaskiela commanding). The other two Jadgtiger present took on the US infantry positions but had to withdraw when their supporting infantry from the 6th SS GrebsJäger and 17th SS PzGr division became pinned down by small arms and artillery fire. The surviving two Jadgtigers and crews state that none of the vehicles were taken under fire by US tank destroyers and the M36 story is a myth.
    The German infantry was able eventually to move forward without tank support as the weather deteriorated into a blizzard giving cover to their movements. The US retook the area about a week later finding the now blown up Jadgtiger still sitting where it was destroyed.

    On 18 January another Sherman was destroyed.

    Between 9 and 22 January s. PzJr Abt 653 was sporatically engaged in supporting other units mostly firing on non-armor targets.
    On 5 February 1945 several Jadgtigers along with several Panthers fought near Drusenheimer with inconclusive results. One Jadgtiger was lost due to artillery fire.
    During March 1945 the unit is engaged mostly against the bridgehead at Remagen. There are a number of tactical actions around the Hagünau Wald between this unit and various US and French units. S. PzJr 653 gives a good account of itself during March but, air strikes, artillery fire, and continious breakdowns frustrate their efforts and losses mount.
    For example, on the evening of 14/15 March 3/653 caught a US tank column in the flank at a range of about 3 to 4 km. Using flares to illuminate the column they opened fire on it destroying several tanks. The US tanks retruned fire ineffectually but within minutes had a devastating artillery barrage land on the German position forcing them to withdraw. On the 15th the battle continued with 3/653 initially being able to hold their own and inflict casualties on the US forces. An air strike by P-47s arrived and destroyed 3 Jadgtiger. Another two were lost to transmission failures.
    One of the more well known actions was the one 23 March 1945 at Neustadt. There 3/653 ambushed a US armored column. 25 vehicles were claimed by the Germans (most probably an exaggeration). US return fire hit the Jadgtigers numerous times without effect but forced their withdrawal into Neustadt where two out of three of their number broke down and were abandoned.
    S. PzJr 512 was in action starting in March 1945 and fought in what became the Ruhr pocket.

    In most actions the Jadgtigers opened fire at fairly long range. They typically obtained hits on several enemy vehicles while the rest moved quickly to cover. Return fire was usually ineffective. The Allied (almost always US) force then quickly called down artillery fire on the Germans causing the occasional loss and forcing them to withdraw from their positions. Air strikes also sometimes occured with greater effect on the Germans. The biggest weakness of the Jadgtiger was its abysimal reliability. The transmission in particular was very weak and regularly failed in service. Replacement or serious repair took anywhere from four to ten days to accomplish, if parts were available. This left Jadgtiger units with large numbers of broken down tanks awaiting transmission repair almost continiously.
     
  6. Ceraphix

    Ceraphix Member

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    This is the kind of stuff I was looking for, thanks guys...were there any notable Jagdtiger actions on the Eastern Front?
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    No. The Jadgtiger was used exclusively on the Western Front. There were a handful that were collected by crews directly from the Nibelungen Werk (the factory where the Jadgtiger was manufactured) and driven into combat against the Soviets in Austria. Three or four such vehicles were used by scratch crews supposedly under the command of a Hamptsturmführer from LAH. These vehicles are claimed to have engaged the Soviets on several occasions and on 5 May 1945 surrendered to US forces at Strengberg
     
  8. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    None were used on the Eastern Front. As T.A. and the onformation posted states the closest they got was Austria.
     
  9. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The photos earlier in the thread (in case you wanted to know) captioned:

    Starting from top left:

    This is chassis 305083 photographed at Kubinka testing ground in Russia post war and one of the three that surrendered at Strengberg Austria to US and Soviet forces. It is currently on display in the museum there.

    Top right: 305004 with Porsche suspension at Sennelager in Germany post war under test by the British.

    Middle left: The remaining runners of 1/512 (Kp Ernst) surrendering at Iserlohn on 16 April 1945. Kp Ernst paraded its three remaining Jadgtiger along with other vehicles (including a Bergepanther) into the town square and formally surrendered to the 99th US ID (Lt. Col. Kriz taking the surrender). The US filmed the whole proceeding. The photo shows 1/512 parading after assembling. Note the personal gear each crew removed from the tanks.

    Left middle: Jadgtigers 331 (facing camera), chassis number 305020, and 323 in Neustadt an der Weinstraß after breaking down in a fight between them and US forces on 23 March 1945. 331 was commanded by Lt. Kasper Geoggler. This vehicle is now at Aberdeen Proving Ground Maryland.

    Next photo down: 305004 at Sennelager post war again from a different angle.

    Bottom: Lt. Geoggler's 331 from 3/653 at Neustadt again on 23 March 1945.
     
  10. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    May I call your attention to the specified Terms of Reference?

    :rofl:
     
  11. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    well Za it did succsssfully fail:)
     
  12. Ceraphix

    Ceraphix Member

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    Hey, even if Jagdtigers sucked, they still look pretty badass :p
    If I was in a Sherman and I ran into one of those beasts I'd hastily abandon ship :D.
     
  13. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    Same here, if I was in a Sherman, Stuart or Grant I would definitely abandon 'ship.' :)

    :panzerattack: :explosion1:
     
  14. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    On the other hand, if I was a mechanic the last thing I'd want to be working on was that 72 ton POS.
     
    Ceraphix likes this.
  15. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    even a M10 Wolverine cant pierce the frontal armour can it?
     
  16. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    LOL Good one. And with the gun being only able to fire foward a Sherman ,hell any other tank,could run circles around it. Funny how some of the German "Wonder Weapons" weren't really that wonderful or superior LOL.
     
  17. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Most likely you would be running into some "ghost ship" abandoned by its crew due to malfunction, lack or fuel or just for the 'ell of it! Which makes you guys into a couple of yellow-bellied knee-jerks :D Here's a what-if for you: What If Gen. Patton ever heard of your attitude, eh? :p
     
  18. Joe

    Joe Ace

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    It's not suprising, really. The M10 had the same gun as the later Shermans.
    The best weapon to take out one of these?

























    A radio. Call in air support!

    And Huffelpuff-Why would a Grant be facing a JgdTiger? I'm sure JgdTigers didn't fight in north africa or the Far east.
     
  19. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Well since the Stuart was for recon only they sure as hell wouldn't try engaging anything that big. And the Grant? What would a Grant be doing in France or Germany? lol :confused: :)
     
  20. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The US doesn't have a fielded anti-tank gun that can penetrate the frontal armor of a Jadgtiger. The 90mm with HVAP almost does at a range of about 100 yards but, outside that nothing even comes close.
    Probably the only weapon that could have made a serious impression on a Jadgtiger frontally in the US inventory was a 155mm gun firing APHE ammunition. Yes, these guns did have an armor piercing round as they were intended for coastal defense and use against ships too. While the round will not technically go through the Jadgtiger's frontal armor, its massive size and weight will likely cause serious secondary damage just from impact alone.
     

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