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Books - Tanks

General

Tanks at the Iron Curtain 1960-75, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the first generation of NATO and Warsaw Pact tanks developed after the Second World War, including the German Leopard 1, French AMX30, British Chieftain, American M60 and Soviet T-62 and T-64 as well as projects that never reached production and the first missile tanks, a technology that was expected to replace the gun tank but didn’t live up to expectations (Read Full Review)
Tanks at the Iron Curtain 1975-90 – The ultimate generation of Cold War heavy armour, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the last generation of Cold War tanks, many of which are still in use today (M1A1 Abrams, Challenger II, T-80, Leopard II etc), the generation in which advanced technology such as reactive armour or advanced fire control systems became at least as important as armour thickness or firepower in decided which tank was most effective (Read Full Review)

First World War

British Battle Tanks - World War I to 1939, David Fletcher. An excellent history of British tanks from the earliest developments, through the battles of the First World War and on into the post-war period. Strongest on the First World War tanks, which fill the first three quarters of the book, helping to explain the problems faced by the developers, how they coped with the problems of the battlefield and how the design was improved in the light of experience, making it clear that the tanks of 1918 were actually very different from the tanks of 1916, despite looking very similar [read full review]
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Medium Mark A Whippet, David Fletcher. Looks at the series of medium tanks developed during the First World War, from the Mark A Whippet which actually saw combat to the Mark D, an amphibious tank that never progressed beyond the prototype stage. Includes an excellent selection of contemporary photographs including some rare shots of the early prototypes and later variants [read full review]
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Tanks on the Somme, from Morval to Beaumont Hamel, Trevor Pidgeon. A very detailed tank-by-tank account of the 'penny packet' operations that followed the initial larger scale introduction of the tank into warfare during the battle of the Somme. Supported by detailed maps and battlefield guides, this is one of the most detailed accounts of armoured warfare you will ever read! [read full review]
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The Ironclads of Cambrai, Bryan Cooper. A classic account of the first large scale tank battle, a brief triumph that despite ending as a draw helped pave the way for the eventual Allied victories of 1918, and that saw the tank emerge as an important weapon of war after a rather low-key introduction into service [read full review]
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Second World War

Valentine Infantry Tank vs Panzer III – North Africa 1941-43, Bruce Oliver Newsome. A good comparison of the Panzer III and Valentine tanks, two types that were actually more important for their respective countries than is generally realised, being overshadowed by later or more famous models. Good on the technical side of things, and with an interesting account of the battle of Tebourba in Tunisia, although the actual clash between the Valentine and Panzer III was fairly limited (Read Full Review)
German Tanks in France 1940, Steven J Zaloga. Looks at the armour used on the German side of the battle of France in 1940, starting with a look at the structure of the German armoured force, then the six main tanks and the early assault guns and tank destroyers used in the fighting, followed by a sizable account of the campaign itself. Shows that the key to the German victory wasn’t the quality of their tanks, which were no better than the best British or French tanks, but instead where they were used and the overall German plan (Read Full Review)
Desert Armour – Tank Warfare in North Africa, Beda Fomm to Operation Crusader, 1940-41, Robert Forczyk. Starts with a look at the pre-war doctrine, equipment and available forces for the British, Americans, Italians and Germans, before moving on to look at the first three of the five sweeping movements in the desert war – the British defeat of the Italians, Rommel’s first offensive and the siege of Tobrok, and the relief of Tobruk and Rommel’s retreat west (Read Full Review)
Tanks in the Battle of Germany 1945 – Eastern Front, Steven J. Zaloga. A look at the tanks, tank hunters and armoured assault guns on the German and Soviet sides of the fighting in 1945, looking at the numbers available, how they were organised, and the tanks themselves. Covers the campaigns where the bulk of German armoured vehicles were deployed during 1945, but despite that were still massively outnumbered by the Red Army, and had lost much of their tactical and technological edge (Read Full Review)
Panzer Reconnaissance, Thomas Anderson. Combines descriptions of the various vehicles used by the reconnaissance units (bikes, armoured cars, half tracks and fully tracked) with a history of the reconnaissance units themselves, their official orders of battle, and how they actually performed in action. Gives a much broader picture of the role of these vehicles than books that focus more on the vehicles, and makes it clear that in reality units used whatever vehicles were available, rather than the neat orders of battle (Read Full Review)
SU-152/ ISU-152 vs Tiger – Eastern Front 1943-45, David Greentree. Looks at the clashes between the German Tiger I and Soviet SU-152/ ISU-152 heavy self propelled guns, most common between mid 1943 and the end of 1944. Covers the development and technical specifications of both weapons, the training of their crews, before moving onto a large number of fairly short accounts of clashes that involved both weapons, and for which we have accounts from both sides (Read Full Review)
Tanks in the Battle of Germany 1945 – Western Front, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at armoured warfare on the Western Front in 1945, focusing on the statistical and technical side of things – how many tanks were present on each side, how did they compare to each other, how were they organised, how many were lost and to what causes. Gives a good overview of the nature of armoured warfare in the west in 1945, and in particular demonstrates just how badly the Germans had been defeated by the end of 1944 and how little armour they still had in the west during 1945 (Read Full Review)
Foreign Panthers – The Panzer V in British, Soviet, French and other service, 1943-58, M.P. Robinson & Thomas Seignon. Looks at the surprisingly limited use of the Panther by Germany’s wartime allies and enemies and in the post-war world, where despite its high reputation only a handful of tanks went on to serve with France, Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia, mainly because of the unreliable nature of the Panther which meant that the surviving German tanks soon needed spare parts that were no longer available. (Read Full Review)
Tiger vs Churchill North-West Europe, 1944-45, Neil Grant. Looks at the design and development of these two tanks as well as how they performed in Normandy. Acknowledges that they didn’t perform the same role and rarely actually clashed face to face, but still does a good job of comparing their contributions to the overall campaign and examining how well they performed their intended role as well as looking at one of the few large scale clashes between the two (Read Full Review)
Bren Gun Carrier – Britain’s Universal War Machine, Robert Jackson. A look at one of the most numerous tracked vehicles in British service during the Second World War, originally designed to carry machine guns to the location where they were needed, but soon adapted to fulfil a much wider range of functions. Found wherever British and Commonwealth forces fought during the Second World War, this was one of the most flexibly vehicles in British service (Read Full Review)
BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the fast BT series tanks, based on the American Christie tank. Produced in vast numbers in the Soviet Union in several main variants, the BT tanks were used in Spain, against Japan on the Mongolian border and during the Winter War, before being destroyed in equally vast numbers during the first year of the Great Patriotic War. Traces the development of the Soviet version of the tank, the many versions produced, and its mainly unimpressive combat career. [read full review]
German Half-Tracks and Wheeled Vehicles 1939-1945, Alexander Lüdeke. Looks at the armoured cars and half-tracks used by the German Army before and during the Second World War, focusing on the development and technical descriptions of each type and its major variants. Each type gets one or two pages, supported by photos of the vehicle. A useful short reference book on these essential vehicles, covering both the many types developed in Germany and the smaller number of captured vehicles pressed into service. [read full review]
American Tanks and AFVs of World War II, Michael Green. An excellent look at the development of American armoured vehicles in the inter-war period and during the Second World War, linking the individual vehicles to US army doctrine to produce a valuable picture of what was produced and just as importantly why, and how well the equipment that entered service actually performed. [read full review]
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Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann. A history of the first armoured unit to be formed in Germany after the First World War, tracing its history from its formation in 1933, through the campaigns in Poland and France and into North Africa, ending with the Axis powers on the back foot, having been forced to abandon the siege of Tobruk. [read full review]
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Panzer Destroyer - Memoirs of a Red Army Tank Commander, Vasiliy Krysov. The memoirs of a Soviet tank and self-propelled gun commander who fought at Stalingrad, Kursk and during the long Soviet offensives that followed, ending the war in East Prussia, and who was lucky to survive for so long, losing his crew and his commanding officer, and being wounded four times. Provides a memorable picture of life in the Red Army during some of the titanic battles on the Eastern Front. [read full review]
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Steel Fist: Tank Warfare 1939-45, Nigel Cawthorne An excellent little book and a very easy read, tracing the development of tank warfare from pre war to the end of the war in Europe. The book really focuses on the German tank development and the Panzer theories and leading Generals especially Rommel and Guderian [see more].
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Germany

SdkFz 251/0 and 251/22 Kanonenwagen, Dennis Oliver. Looks at two versions of the German SdkFz 251 half track that were armed with surplus 75mm guns and used for infantry support and as a tank hunter. Covers the development of these two vehicles, the available models, camouflage schemes but with most space taken up by a list of all of the major units known to have been equipped with the type, looking at when they got it, how many they were meant to have and probably did have, and a brief summary of where they were used (Read Full Review)
The History of the panzerjager Volume 2, Thomas Anderson. Looks at the weapons used by Germany’s anti-tank forces in 1942-45, the period that saw the introduction of ever-more powerful weapons, starting with the 7.5cm PaK 40 of 1942 and building up to anti-tank versions of the 88mm Flak gun. Also looks at the increasingly complex array of self propelled guns produced by the Germans. All supported by extensive use of after action reports, which give a fascinating insight into how effective the German troops thought their weapons were, and what improvements they wanted(Read Full Review)
Panzer IV, Thomas Anderson. An interesting approach to the Panzer IV, focusing more on its tactical performance, using after-action reports to give some idea of what the German tank forces thought of it and the improvements they requested, and then looking at what changes were made and why. Almost entirely based on wartime documents, with plenty of German after-action reports and development notes to help explain the story of the most numerous German tank of the Second World War (Read Full Review)
Hitler’s Panzers – the Complete History 1933-1945, Anthony Tucker-Jones. A well structured book that gives a useful overview of the development and deployment of Germany’s armoured vehicles during the Second World War, although that would have benifited from some further editing to avoid repetition and some inconsistency. Its main strong point come in the chapters on combat deployment, which acknowledge that the varied types of tanks fought as part of a larger war machine, and not in individual tank-vs-tank battles(Read Full Review)
Panzer IV 1939-1945, Paul Thomas. A mix of a history of the Panzer IV and a modelling guide, combined with an excellent selection of photographs of the tank, showing the many variants produced and their identification features. A good introduction to the topic, with an especially good selection of well captioned photographs (Read Full Review)
Panzer I & II Blueprint for Blitzkrieg 1933-1941, Robert Jackson . A well illustrated history of the Panzer I and Panzer II, the most numerous German tanks of the early Blitzkrieg victories, and still present in very large numbers at the start of Operation Barbarossa, by which time they were utterly outclassed. Covers their development, technical specifications, variants and modified vehicles using the same chassis and their combat record, all supported by a good selection of photographs and plans (Read Full Review)
Professor Porsche’s Wars, Karl Ludvigsen. A study of the military aspects of Fredinand Porsche’s career, spanning a wide range of activities from First World War artillery tractors to the vast Maus tank, and including his most successful military design, the Beetle based Kubelwagen. A well balanced account of a long and active career that actually produced a surprisingly small number of militarily significant products.(Read Full Review)
Tiger Tank, Marcus Cowper. A fairly short, well balanced account of the Tiger I and Tiger II, looking at their development, technical descriptions and examples from their combat record, as well as looking at some of their main opponents - the Firefly and IS-2. Focuses on a selected series of individual tank battles to examine the combat performance of the Tiger - Tiger I vs Sherman Firefly in the west and Tiger II vs IS-2 in the east [read full review]
Jagdtiger: Design, Production, Operations, Christopher Meadows. A detailed study of the heaviest and best armed armoured vehicle of the Second World War, the 12.8cm armed Jagdtiger, tracing its development from the original specification to the eventual vehicle, the production difficulties, and its complete combat career, which didn’t begin until January 1945 and only involved two units. [read full review]
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Tiger, Thomas Anderson. A very useful book on the Tiger tank, using contemporary battle reports and other German documents to examine its service record, looking at issues including its reliability, performance in combat, the structure of the units that used the tank and the tactics used with it. The result is a very valuable study of the effectiveness of the Tiger, based on original combat reports and thus reflecting both its virtues and its flaws. [read full review]
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Images of War: Panzer IV at War 1939-1945, Paul Thomas. A super collection of photos of the Panzer IV and related vehicles, tracing its evolution from the infantry support tank of 1939, to the king of the mid-war battlefield and on its use as the basis of a large number of related vehicles towards the end of the war. Lot of good pictures from different angles make this a useful book for the modeller. [read full review]
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Images of War: Hitler's Tank Killer: Sturmgeschütz at War 1940-45, Hans Seidler. A large collection of high quality pictures of the StuG, from its combat debut in France in 1940 to the final days of the war in 1945, and supported by a brief history of the development of the StuG and its use on the battlefield. [read full review]
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Panzer Divisions 1944-45, Pier Paolo Battistelli. This lavishly illustrated Osprey covers the later days of the German panzer divisions, including background on weapons, tactics, operations and silhouette style organisational charts. A fascinating period, with the once feared panzer divisions no longer kings of the battlefield but still a powerful force and capable of small scale victories against the vast tide of Soviet, British and American forces [read full review]
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Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary L. Doyle. A superb detailed reference guide that covers every type of tank, armoured car, self-propelled guns and semi-tracked vehicle that was used by the German Army between 1933 and the end of the Second World War War. An essential reference book for anyone interested in the subject. [see more]
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German Light Panzers, 1932-1942, Bryan Perrett. This is a well balanced book that combines a technical discussion of the various types of light tanks, a look at the Panzer divisions and their equipment and the battlefield tactics and experience of the German light tank forces. [see more]
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Panzerkampfwagen III Medium Tank 1936-44, Bryan Perrett. A good introduction for anyone interesting in the Panzer III, this book covers the development of the tank, the structure of the German panzer forces, and its military career, which saw the Panzer III go from being the Third Reich's main battle tank to being under-gunned and under-armoured [see more]
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Panther Medium Tank, 1942-45, Stephen A. Hart, Osprey New Vanguard 67. This look at what was probably the best German tank of the Second World War concentrates on the technical development of the Panther. The text is divided into chapters on each of the major versions of the Panther, looking at their development, production, deployment and combat career. As a result the text flows well, and each new development is placed properly in its context. [see more]
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Schnellbacher, U Jerchel, M and Badrocke, M. Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank 1979 - 1998, Osprey Publishing, 1998, London, New Vanguard Series No. 24.
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Jerchel, M and Sarson, P. Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank 1965 - 1995, Osprey Publishing, 1995, London, New Vanguard Series No. 16.
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Japan

Japanese Tanks, 1939-45, Steven J. Zaloga, Osprey New Vanguard 137. A well written and illustrated look at the tanks produced for the Japanese army from the late 1920s to the end of the Second World War. This is a good overview of this neglected subject, looking at both the development of their tanks and their use in combat. [see more]
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Russia

Ju 87D/ G Stuka vs T-34 – Eastern Front 1942-45, Robert Forsyth. An interesting look at how the Stuka dive bomber was pressed into service as an anti-tank weapon, first as a dive bomber and later as a cannon armed ground attack aircraft, and how it faired against the T-34. Covers the development of both weapon systems, the training of their crews, the combat record of the Stuka against the tanks, along with good sections on German research into exactly what was the best method to attack T-34s with the Stuka (Read Full Review)
Russian Tanks of World War II – 1939-1945, Stephen Hart. Looks at the tanks used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War, from the obsolete light tanks of the 1930s to the excellent T-34 and their increasingly powerful heavy tanks, as well as their self-propelled guns, and even the many types of western tanks sent to the Soviet Union under lend-lease. Most tanks get a page or two, with a brief history, a technical description, notes on their performance, stats and a side-on full colour illustration (Read Full Review)
T-64 Battle Tank - The Cold War's Most Secret Tank, Steven J. Zaloga. A brief history of a tank that was too advanced for its own good, combining advanced features that meant it couldn't be exported with an unreliable engine that made it unsuited for service with the Red Army for many years after it first appeared. The limited service life of the T-64 allows the author to focus on the complex and troubled development process, giving us an interesting picture of the way tank development worked in the Soviet Union [read full review]
Russian Tanks of World War II, Stalin's Armoured Might, Tim Bean and Will Fowler. A good overview of the development of Soviet Tanks from the early models based on British and American originals to the excellent Russian designed T-34 and the heavy IS tanks. Bean and Fowler also look at the development of Soviet tank doctrine, the impact of Stalin's purges on the tank forces, and their use in combat from the small-scale clashes in the Far East to the apocalyptic fighting on the Eastern Front between 1941-45. A little lacking on precise details of the sub-variants of some of the tanks, but otherwise very good.
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United Kingdom

Polish Vickers E, Adam Jonca. Aimed very firmly at someone wanting to build a model of the Vickers E in Polish service, so has a good selection of photographs and plans of the different versions of the tank, as well as surviving technical drawings, a wartime poster showing different versions and one colour plate showing the standard camouflage scheme. Very useful for the modeller aiming at as accurate as possible a result (Read Full Review)
Chobham Armour, William Suttie. A study of all the post-war armoured vehicles developed at the Army’s centre for military vehicle design at Chobham Common, covering main battle tanks from the Centurion to Challenger II and a wide range of light and medium tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles. Well written and lavishly illustrated, this is an excellent guide to the mainly successful military vehicles designed at Chobham (Read Full Review)
M48 Patton vs Centurion - Indo-Pakistani War 1965, David R. Higgins. Looks at the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, a rare example of a post-war conflict in which British and American tanks served on opposite sides. Includes a useful account of the development of the two tanks, the versions in service during the war and an account of the fighting itself. Not so strong on the direct comparison between the effectiveness of the two types when operating against each other [read full review]
Valentine Infantry Tank 1938-45, Bruce Oliver Newsome. Looks at the most numerous British tank of the Second World War, but one that only saw limited combat service, mainly in North Africa. Notable for the amount of information packed into a series of tables, including specifications and identifying features of the many versions of the Valentine, as well as the interesting material on the interior of the tank, how it was driven, and on the many special variants such as the Archer self -propelled gun, which carried its main gun pointing backwards. [read full review]
Images of War: British Tanks of the Second World War, Pat Ware. A good quality selection of photos, organised by the British designations (Light, Cruiser, Infantry and Heavy), along with chapters on the development of the tank, American tanks in British service and the 'funnies' that were the most important British contribution to wartime tank design. [read full review]
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Tracing your Tank Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Janice Tait and David Fletcher. Combines a history of the British armoured forces, and in particular the Royal Tank Corps and Royal Armoured Corps, with a guide to the resources available for family histories trying to trace ancestors who served in British tanks [read full review]
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 British Anti-Tank Artillery 1939-1945 (Osprey New Vanguard), Chris Henry.  An interesting look at the evolution of the British anti-tank gun, from the tiny early 2-pdrs up to the massive 32-pdr guns and the self-propelled tank destroyers that appeared late in the war.
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United States

Images of War – M2/ M3 Bradley, David Doyle. A photographic study of the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, focusing largely on detailed pictures of the main versions of the M2 and M3 and the related M270 MLRS, with a final chapter looking at the Bradley’s deployment in battle, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. A little too much focus on the detailed photos of the variants for my taste, but still a good visual guide to this vehicle. (Read Full Review)
The Patton Tank Cold War Warrior, Michael Green. Focuses on the first major US tank to emerge after the Second World War, the M46/ M47/ M48 Patton, a family of tanks originally developed from the wartime M26 Pershing but that evolved into a much more capable modern design, and that in a very modified form is still in service. Combines a good technical history of these three Pattons with useful operational information, all supported by an excellent collection of photographs, in particular those looking at the interior of the tank (Read Full Review)
M50 Ontos and M56 Scorpion 1956-70 - US Tank Destroyers of the Vietnam War, Kenneth W. Estes. Looks at two very light tank destroyers developed for the Cold War but that never saw action against enemy army, but instead saw limited use as infantry support weapons during the Vietnam War. Both were seen as expendable weapons, combining heavy firepower with a light and easy to produce vehicle, but neither was produced in very large numbers, both were made obsolete by anti-tank missiles (Read Full Review)
Hell on Wheels: The Men of the US Armored Forces, 1918 to the end of the 20th century, Christopher J. Anderson. A photographic study of the US armoured forces, covering the period from the armoured cars of 1917 to the end of the twentieth century. Focuses largely on the crews and their equipment, showing how that has evolved over the years. Includes coverage of both World Wars, Korea and the first Gulf War, as well as peace time operations Read Full Review
Images of War Special: M4 Sherman, Pat Ware & Brian Delf. Larger than normal entry in the Images of War series looking at the M4 Sherman tank, with a good range of photos, including some unusual pictures of tanks under construction, the interior of the Sherman and individual components, all supported by good captions and useful chapter introductions. [read full review]
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Operation Iraqi Freedom: US Army Abrams, Bradley & Stryker, Andy Renshaw & Ryan Harden. Combines a look at the history and development of each type of vehicle with a detailed illustrated walk-round of real machines and an interesting modelling guide, in each case taking a base kit and at least one or two upgrade or modification kits, and giving useful advice on how to combine the various components to produce an impressive final model. [read full review]
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Zaloga, Steven and Sarson, Peter. M2 / M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle 1983 - 1995, Osprey (UK) Ltd, 1995, London, New Vanguard Series No. 18.
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Zaloga, Stephen & Sarson, Peter. M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 1982 - 1992, Osprey UK, London, 1993, New Vanguard Series No. 2.
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Modern American Armour , Zaloga, Stephen & Loop, James, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1982.
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