Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

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paulcadogan
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Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by paulcadogan » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:47 am

Hi folks,

This is a VERY long post because I really want to share these thoughts with you all. I hope I can put them together with some clarity so you can evaluate for yourselves. I know I’m at risk of being pronounced guilty of Denmark Strait blasphemy, but what the heck….I’m in JAMAICA…none of you can get to me too easily to physically exact punishment…so PLEASE bear with me! :pray: Here goes (deep breath!):

Everything about the DS battle seems to revolve around this magical time of 0600 - precisely on the dot, as if on cue, Hood erupts.

BUT...

1) All accounts suggest Bismarck fired 5 salvos - even with flight times and spotting corrections before a "good rapid" order, only 5 salvos in 5 minutes? Very slow.... This has always bothered me.

2) The 0555-ordered turn to 280 degrees was intended to open the British A-arcs. PoW's salvo plot notes hers were opened just after 0557.

3) Hood is noted as only firing one salvo from her aft turrets just before she blew up despite clearly open A-arcs at 0557 (we know for her they were actually open earlier, but the forward bearing would have been highly traumatic for her own structure). So...the aft turrets held fire for almost 3 minutes in this crucial battle??

4) PoW's salvo plot inexplicably notes "Hood out of action" at 0556....the boat deck fire did not put her out of action and she continued shooting, despite the spotting top hit which DID NOT eliminate central fire control (her main director was atop the conning tower, very much intact).

5) RNFanDan noted that something seems to be wrong with the timeline for PoW's evasive maneuver around the sinking Hood and withdrawal. It all seems too fast.

6) The distance between PoW and the oil fire at Hood's sinking site in NH69731 looks a lot further than it should be given the tight turn around the sinking site shown on most maps.

WHAT IF HOOD ACTUALLY RECEIVED THE FATAL HIT ABOUT 0558, BLEW UP AND WAS SINKING BY 0600 AND GONE BY 602???? :shock:

• It explains only 5 salvos by Bismarck.
• It explains only 1 salvo from Hood's aft turrets.
• It explains PoW's salvo plot's early "Hood out of action" note (off by a couple minutes)
• It explains only 10 salvos from Hood (as estimated by Jasper/Schmalenbach)
• It gives significantly more time for PoW's maneuvers and explains the distance in the battle photo. (PoW would have gone significantly further before turning away )
• It also explains the whirlwind events described by Hood's survivors (They all describe Hood being hit just after she turned)
• A 0558 fatal hit is still compatible with the general timeline and the observations by the German onlookers. But it gives a little more time for Bismarck shifting fire. It still fits with McMullen's report of a heavy hit after 0559(from Prinz Eugen), the timing of PoW’s 5.25's firing only 3 salvoes before the HACS was hit, the shift to the aft director, only for the crane/funnel hit to take place. Then it allows for PG's last 2 hits on PoW to come in when the ship was just turning away as suggested by the Hood website diagram, rather than from almost directly astern as Antonio has them on his track chart.

What about the second 2 blue signal? Holland could have ordered that immediately after the first, to keep his bearing on the enemy - and to relieve the extreme forward bearing of the aft turrets. The first turn was ordered at 0555, we don’t know the time it was executed, but we have PoW’s A-arcs opening just after 0557. Based on the bearing of the Germans at the opening of fire (37 degrees off the starboard bow) PoW did not need the full 20 degree turn to open her A-arcs – so at 0557 the turn may not have been complete.

If Holland had decided to turn a further 20 deg to port immediately, hoisting another 2 Blue signal during the first turn, is it possible Hood’s wheel might not have been put back amidships (hence its position on the wreck), with the intention that hauling down the flag would keep PoW on station? (BUT then the flag could not be hauled down because the signalmen on the flag deck had been killed or injured by the hit at the base of the bridge - Ted Briggs heard a “cacophony” of voices, including his "oppo" Ron Bell calling for help.)

On top of all that, I can understand the 0600 “average” time of the sinking. 5 minutes of enemy fire is a little less humiliating than 3 minutes..... Just like the 0613 disengagement for PoW rather than 0603. We have Prinz Eugen's KTB (Brinkmann) saying 0601 - but as we have seen...he may have had a "boo boo" tendency! :lol: But still that may well have been when the ship was seen with her bow in the air.

Even for PoW - we have testimony that her evasive turns were hard - starboard, then port causing her to heel violently as described by Brooke - we know this causes significant loss of speed, taking a little longer for her to reach the position described by Jasper (passing in front of the sinking Hood). It gives additional time for Bismarck to shift fire, and still can fit with the compass platform hit being at around 0601. Leach timed the compass platform hit as 0602:30. Leach said Hood had a "second 2 blue flying" at 0600 - move that back the same amount of time - we have 0558:30!!

And lastly (for now)....think seriously.....is it possible for 48,000 tons of battlecruiser to disappear beneath the waves in just 2 minutes? I think Leach himself said 3 or 4 minutes.

I sat with my watch and measured two minutes, picturing Hood being hit, the splashes from the straddling shells rising around her, Leach pausing for a moment to see what the result of the hit might be, the 4-inch mags catching fire, spreading to the 15-inch - then the searing flame shoots up from her engine room vents on the boat deck - soaring to 1000 feet. Then the low rumble as grey smoke covers her as her aft section is rent apart by the explosion - bits and pieces flying skyward including turrets, guns, the mainmast collapsing.

She loses way and first heels slowly 10 degrees to starboard, then slowly rights herself, then heels rapidly to port, her stern breaking away and crumbling into the sea. Her midsection begins to fill with water, starts to go under causing her bow to lift - some 500 feet of ship lifts into the air almost vertically as water surges into her pulling her down down down...hissing and churning as escaping air turns the sea around her into a bubbling maelstrom stained with flaming oil and littered with debris. The oil fire sends a plume of black smoke skyward against the swirling grey clouds of the explosion. As the smoke drifts away, her beautiful clipper bow slips steadily downwards....downwards and she is gone.... and the Mighty Hood is no more....

O600 to 0602? Two minutes to sink?? Only five salvoes from Bismarck in 5 minutes when Schneider had laid his battery squarely on the target from the 400 m bracket with his second salvo and ordered “Full salvoes good rapid!”? :think: :think: :think:

So there....it's done. I know there’ll be many questions/contradictions, and I look forward to your critique.

(NOW you can wash me and hang me out to dry…!!) :oops:
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:01 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Paul,

Please allow me to applaud you for this example on how any of us should think and act when things does not fit on his mind about an historical event :clap: .

It is very positive to ask yourself those questions, share them here in were competent and fair persons can share opinions, information and evidences with you and verify, double check and maybe also improve the knowledge of those events.

I like to underline from my side something I know very well about you, and it is the proven fact that you are a wise, correct and very fair person, very educated also when things and words get “HOT” among others, you are a very well balanced person and this is invaluable for me.

Well, I think I have said enough :oops: … and from my side I kindly ask everybody to participate on this discussion and share thoughts and information.

Paul raised some questions and asked for help on understanding what really happened, and I hope many will discuss about all this in details with him, while I have to admit that a lot of the questions he raised have been on my mind for many years ... and some are still there ... :wink:

Bye Antonio :D
Last edited by Antonio Bonomi on Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:32 pm

Paul,
A very interesting analysis, although part of the bow and stern are reletivly intact it would appear from the expedition pictures that the vast majority of the ship is scattered over a very large area which has I believe prompted the idea that there was an almost simultaneous explosion of both fore and aft main magazines. I suppose it is possible that when the aft magazine exploded a huge ball of fire literally gutted the inside of the ship and set off the foreward magazine. If this was the case then it might be possible for the ship to sink that quickly. On the other hand as events were happening so fast I don't suppose that the crews of any of the ships involved on both sides were thinking about recording the exact details of the times of sinking.

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:01 am

To Antonio;

You are MUCH TOO KIND!! But I really appreciate your sentiments.... :oops:

And to my namesake friend Paul:

The double explosion idea has long been debunked - but unfortunately it has been perpetuated by the Channel 4 documentary of the first expedition to Hood - so every time someone watches it they are given that wrong information.

Hood's bow broke off because of implosion damage from compressive forces after she was well below water. The break occurred forward of A-turret. If you look at the wreck, the section with the forward turrets and magazines is "intact" (i.e NOT blown up) though upside down on the sea floor.

http://www.hmshood.com/hoodtoday/2001ex ... /index.htm

If Hood's forward mags had gone up there would have been no survivors.

The hull from just abaft the second funnel up to the stem was intact on the surface and sank after the bow lifted out of the water. For that whole structure to fill with water and disappear below the surface must have been a significant part of the sinking time.

And what's left of the stern is just a small piece sticking up out of the sea floor with a flap of decking lying flat. The hull from that piece of stern forward to just behind the second funnel is gone - blown to pieces all over the ocean floor - hence my description of the stern section "crumbling into the sea".

Paul
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:30 pm

Some official evidence in the direction of my theory...

From "Extract from ADM234/509
Narrative of H.M.S. Suffolk Operations 23 - 26 May 1941"
Phase 0550 (B) to 0851 (B)

18. 0550 (B). Suffolk's course 220°, 29 knots, following the enemy.

0553 (B). Heavy gun flashes bearing 185°. Half a minute later Bismarck opened fire to port.

0556½ (B). Prinz Eugen opened fire to port.

0559 (B). Hood blew up.
http://www.hmshood.com/history/denmarks ... xtract.htm
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:32 pm

paulcadogan wrote:To Antonio;

You are MUCH TOO KIND!! But I really appreciate your sentiments.... :oops:

And to my namesake friend Paul:

The double explosion idea has long been debunked - but unfortunately it has been perpetuated by the Channel 4 documentary of the first expedition to Hood - so every time someone watches it they are given that wrong information.

Hood's bow broke off because of implosion damage from compressive forces after she was well below water. The break occurred forward of A-turret. If you look at the wreck, the section with the forward turrets and magazines is "intact" (i.e NOT blown up) though upside down on the sea floor.

http://www.hmshood.com/hoodtoday/2001ex ... /index.htm

If Hood's forward mags had gone up there would have been no survivors.

The hull from just abaft the second funnel up to the stem was intact on the surface and sank after the bow lifted out of the water. For that whole structure to fill with water and disappear below the surface must have been a significant part of the sinking time.

And what's left of the stern is just a small piece sticking up out of the sea floor with a flap of decking lying flat. The hull from that piece of stern forward to just behind the second funnel is gone - blown to pieces all over the ocean floor - hence my description of the stern section "crumbling into the sea".

Paul
Thanks for that Paul - thats blown my theory out of the water!
But as I said, events were happening very quickly so I wonder how exact the timings were at the time, after all it must have been a very trumatic moment to see your Flagship explode right in front of you as well as having shells from two ships raining down around you.

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by RNfanDan » Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:27 pm

In case it has not been mentioned already, I'd like to point out that Bismarck's salvo which fatally struck Hood, was followed up with another salvo from the battleship; these shells were aimed at the expected point where Hood would have been, had she not exploded. My point is, these shells had a full firing cycle and time of flight before arriving at an empty spot on the sea, and moreover, were NOT the first salvo aimed at Prince of Wales.

During the hard turn to starboard and back to port around the wreckage, I believe Bismarck's first salvo was still being calculated and aimed. Any shells arriving aboard Prince of Wales should have been limited to those fired by Prinz Eugen alone, if it was indeed the battleship (and not HMS Norfolk) to which she was directing fire.

I also believe these events took the better part of 2 minutes' time, possibly a bit more---as the German gunners took-in the sight of their erstwhile enemy breaking in two and going up, like a volcano erupting before their eyes. The way now seems much clearer for the pre-06:00 time of Hood's explosion, certainly does not disturb the carefully-deduced hits corroborated by the hits and track chart, and--most importantly-- decompresses the "impossible" timeline within which PoW travelled and maneuvered before taking the compass platform hit.

As almost every second of the long-running forum accounts of what happened to Leach's ship, and when, has been chewed over endlessly, all the while we have no real close examination made of the fatal hit on Hood, herself. I'd like to thank Paul for iterating it so eloquently and concisely as he has done. Since the track charts and timeline of PoW are carved in hard ground (more or less), the only direction one can move while decompressing the real time it took for prince of Wales to arrive at the intersection of bridge and shell hit, is BACKWARD from that moment.

I think we now have that long-time unresolved "loose end" tied--tentatively, at least, if not tightly. :clap:

Dan

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by alecsandros » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:17 am

RNfanDan wrote:
I think we now have that long-time unresolved "loose end" tied--tentatively, at least, if not tightly. :clap:

Dan
:ok:

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by paulcadogan » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:25 am

Thanks for your support Dan and Alec, your brief :ok: speaks volumes...

One thing I'd like to emphasize, is that my suggestion also puts to rest the long-raging argument over the "two turns". One side saying the second turn was signaled but never executed since the signal flag was flying when the ship blew up, while the other saying that the position of the rudder on the sea floor indicates that it was, regardless of the flag.

What I'm saying is there was ONLY ONE TURN - the one signaled at 5:55. executed some moments later, clearing both ships A-arcs by 5:57. I reiterate that I believe the signal for the second turn was hoisted while the first turn was in progress and that Holland had intended simply to turn a further 20 degrees immediately, making the overall turn a 4 Blue - 40 degrees. Ted Briggs in his original 2nd Board testimony may have been absolutely right in Holland's intent!
We got into 12 miles and we did a 40° turn to port and it was either just immediately after or whilst we were doing this turn that the explosion took place.
Ernle Bradford's classic description - again covering only one turn could very well be a very accurate portrayal of the event:
The fifth salvo, hurtling through the air, was history. The Hood and the Prince of Wales were swinging fast to port and their a-arcs were just opening. From one of the Hood's after turrets a salvo had just fired. Then the great flame and high sobbing scream burst. At a range of 16,500 yards the Hood had received her death blow.
So in a way, both sides of the turn debate were right.
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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by Rick Rather » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:00 am

Excellent reconstruction.

One thing to keep in mind when studying the logs is the human element. Specifically, some junior seaman is writing it all down. He's a young lad, possibly still in his teens, probably in his first battle. There's noise and flashes and reports coming in, but his head is down in the logbook so he can't look around except to glance at the chronometer (speaking of which, notice that nearly all log entries are by the minute - he's usually rounding-off (sometimes to a half-minute) unless specifically directed). Don't forget that it takes time to write things down. I've kept deck logs underway - One thing that should be obvious is that accurately getting the events on paper is paramount; thus I (and others I have observed) tend to write-down the event, and then glance at the clock, then make a rounded-off estimate of when it occurred.

Accuracy may also vary based on the nature of the event being recorded. Helm orders (course & speed changes) are logged as they are given, so there is little delay. Things that happen outside of the ship, such as signals from the flagship, have to be relayed to the log-keeper, This might introduce a delay. For something routine (such as a signal) this may be small-to-nonexistent. For something extraordinary... Well, I can only imagine that those watching HMS Hood in her death-throes - so eloquently described by Paul - may have stood stunned for quite some time one of them turned to the lad and dictating three short words.
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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by wadinga » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:37 pm

All,

At last some sanity :clap:

Bismarck does not successfully retarget in 35 secs after beginning of Hood's demise (plus shell flight time), and Leach does not commence retreat by reacting to Compass Platform hit within 40 secs.

Paul C Thanks for kind observations- back at you, and then some. :D

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:27 pm

Hello everybody,

I follow this interesting discussion of course, ... but do not forget that differently than for the 2 county class heavy cruisers, ... here we do have Prince of Wales official battle tracks and timings, gunnery measurements and bearings, ... a lot of witnesses precise accounts ... and only the PoW Captain that unsuccesfully tried to hide some timings and details of his retreat with some false declarations, ... lately covered by his Admiral with a " more wide " 06.13 false declaration.

So please do all your excersises and theories of course, ... but at the end everything must match with what was officially recorded ... on both sides ... :wink:

Just as a reminder, ... for everybody benefit, ... Admiral Lutjens official position to SKL was : Hood sunk at 06.00 after a fight of 5 minutes.

Same time, so 06.00, was officially declared by Hood First ( Blake ) board of Inquiry on June 1941, with diagram B showing warships involved positions on that precise moment, ... including HMS Norfolk precise positioning of course.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:53 pm

... but at the end everything must match with what was officially recorded ... on both sides ... :wink:

Bye Antonio :D
Consider Jasper's chronology:
0555-Opens fire. Range 20,200 meters.
* Fall of shot not observed
*Second salvo fired
* Fall of shot straddling
*Third salvo fired
* Straddling -one hit observed
* Order from Brinckmann to shift to target left.
* One full salvo at POW, Range 16000-17000 meters.
* Fall of shot bracketing and two hits observed aft, Bismarck's 5.9"s also seen falling.
*Second salvo at POW fired
* Fall of shot straddling Time recorded 0559.
* Firing for effect ordered in alternating turret groups
*Enemy noted as starting changing course toward ....
*Fall of shot for 8th salvo..can see sinking Hood now in the field of view.
* Enemy making smoke and turning away.....
.
.
.
* Salvo 28 fired
* Fall of shot obscured by own funnel smoke. Spotting shifted to aft position..
* Ordered to cease fire. (0609?)

We can maybe move the timeline up a tad bit, but not by much.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:13 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Dave,

easy, ... Jasper was very precise, ... not like his Captain Brinkmann, ... so poorly precise on timings and maps/charts, ... just ask Vize-Adm Hubert Schmundt about it :lol:

Lucky me/us there were other German officers recording everything on Prinz Eugen.

Germans opened fire at 05.55 and ceased fire at 06.09, no doubts about it.

Surely Hood was hit after he changed target from Hood to PoW, so after 05.59 when Jasper changed target, as it is very obvious from Jasper narrative.

Than, after 8 Prinz Eugen salvoes to PoW ( he restarted the salvo counter after the target change from Hood to PoW ) he saw the Hood sinking behind PoW turning toward Prinz Eugen, and this was after 06.01 as Jasper wrote.

So, according to Jasper : at 05.59 he changed target and Hood was still afloat. After 180 seconds ( = 3 minutes so 05.59, 06.00 and 06.01 ) he saw Prince of Wales coming toward Prinz Eugen and Hood sinking behind her at 45 degrees with her bow higher than PoW mast.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Hood's sinking: the timing of that fatal hit

Post by paulcadogan » Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:59 am

To Rick:

Thanks for that insight into timekeeping aboard ship - I've wondered how that was done and it is clear that there's a human factor. But another question was the chronometer or clock that was used. How were these set? I'm sure there couldn't be absolute synchrony between ships - especially ships on opposing sides...

And Wadinga - thanks and I'm so happy you think I'm sane! I was a bit worried I was pushing the envelope with this! :oops:

And Dave...thanks for putting Jasper's account in sequence...very helpful! BUT I don't think it's incompatible with an earlier timing of the fatal hit....emphasis on the fatal hit.....not necessarily the conflagration followed.

Antonio you are putting 0559 as the time PG switched target....that is not accurate. Jasper switched targets before that - firing a "full salvo followed by a ranging group (straddle ladder)" which zeroed him in as of 0559 (perfect for McMullen's report of the "heavy hit" at 0559). He also states earlier that immediately after the fire erupted on Hood's boat deck from his second (bracketing) salvo, he received orders to shift target left. So he wasn't looking at Hood to observe the beginning of the explosion, but correctly observed her sinking as PoW passed her "approximately" 0601. This does not negate my suspicion of Hood being hit earlier, because she is still sinking with her bow in the air at 0601 and is gone by 0602.

He describes PoW's hard turn towards (which to me was so short-lived that it doesn't even show up on PoW's salvo plot!) at about the 8th salvo (and remember PG was firing for effect at this point so at a significantly higher rate that Bismarck) - perfect timing to coincide with Leach realizing Hood is blowing up and sending debris his way which he needs to avoid quickly....

Then we have Paul Schmalenbach who describes PG's boat deck hit on Hood in good detail only to state that "A few seconds later a salvo from Bismarck hit the ship aft, and that resulted in an explosion of massive consequence." (my italics)

Reading witness testimony - on PoW, on Norfolk, on Suffolk...and the Hood survivors....it generally seems to indicate a very short interval between the occurrence of the boat deck fire and the final explosion.....

With respect to PoW's documentation and, in particular, her salvo plot and battle map - this drawing is not as precise as it could have been. It shows a straight line on 300 degrees with an instant change to 280 deg at 0555 on the dot with another straight line to 0557 when the A-arcs opened (obviously ships don't turn instantly!) and onward to the turn around Hood - no indication of the avoidance turn (hard a starboard, hard a port). And it notes "Hood out of action" at 0556. Suffolk noted Hood blowing up at 0559.

Rick's explanation of how Hood's sinking time got recorded is, to me, very plausible, so when 0600 was noted - she was in fact in the middle of her death throes.
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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