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New-York tribune. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, May 26, 1918, Image 28

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ALLIES' AIR MONITOR TO MEET HUN'S FLYING MERRIMAC
Panic Among Parlor Strategists
Caused by Appearance of Ar?
mored 'Plane That Shot
Down Lufbery Lasts
Only 24 Hours
?_. ??>??
By H. K. Moderwell
WHEN reports of the new Ger- j
man "flying tank" which
brought down Major Lufbery,
reached this country a few clays ago
something like a pan*c was started in
timid breasts. An air machino, invul?
nerable to aerial attack, bearing two
machine guns and capable of going
wherever it pleased, loomed up as a new
pnd terrible monster of war which
might scrap all existing systems of de?
fence and bring disaster to the Allies
in the meantime.
The panic lasted about twenty-four
hours among the parlor strategists.
Calmer counsels have now prevailed
Expert opinion in New York points out
that although the new flier marks an
important development in aerial war?
fare it is not *.iew in principle and is
by no means invulnerable against
methods already in use.
But it is easy to see how in the first
melodrama of the news reports the
thing looked bad. "The American fight?
ers,'' said the cable*, "sent streams of
bullets in vain against the new enemy,
who loafed along, not seeming to mind
at all. The scene looked like a lot of
swallows pecking at a giant bird of
prey."
Asks Where Is the
Aerial Monitor
To some it recalled the first tri?
umphant procession of the armored
warship Merrimac in Hampton Roads,
when practically unaided she destroyed
a whole fleet of powerful Federal war?
ships, threatened the whole system of
Federal blockade a*nd sent terror
throughout the North. But the analogy
brought to mind the further fact that a
Monitor had appeared the next day and
neutralized this new development of
naval warfare.
The second phase Jf the panic ovei
the "flying tank" then resolved itseli
into the question, "Where (to para?
phrase General Maurice) is the Moni?
tor?"
To which the experts have furnished
an answer, as will appear presently.
No, the flying tank has brought nc
terror to practical airmen. Her useful
ness to the Germans lav in her novelty
Now that she has been observed an<
studied a bit the proper machines wil
be brought against her, the experts say
if indeed they have not been brough
up already.
"Just wait,'' said an experience!
Allied airman the other day, "until wi
bring up our little old Voisin, with at
anti-submarine gun. It's bing! Goo<
night, tank. She hasn't got a chance.'
So the question among aeron?utica
circles became one of explaining th>
rew creature on the basis of previou
experiments in the armoring lin?
The lounging rooms up at the Aer
Ciub on Madison Avenue buzzed witl
speculation. A meeting of the boar
of managers was called for Wednes
day night to officially sit on the prob
lern. For hours they wrestled wit1
the new engine of destruction, and b
the time they adjourned they had he
defeated, downed, brought to earth an
annihilated, her usefulness as an ir
strument of kultur completely an
finally at an end.
But during the first days of th
panic they were avowedly upset. A
one member of the club put it: "Thi
new tank can't be explained by any c
the laws of aeronautics we are no
familiar with. I don't say the thin
couldn't have happened. I don't sa
that tanks can't be made to fly. All
aay is that if they* did fly it was t
virtue of some new principle that w
are not yet familiar with. For it stanc
to reason that a 'plane with the earr?
ing power we know could not C??n*y a
that additional arr.;or."
The layman, of course, would heart
ly agree with this diagnosis. H
knowledge of stresses and strains at
air resistance led him to believe th
you can't carry any considerable qua
tity of solid steel on wings. But th?
the layman has only a rudimenta
idea of what the tank looked like, an
way. As described in the heat*
poetry of the cable dispatches, it cc
tainly looked formidable to him. K
imagination pictured one of Genet
Byng'a ground tanks, such as were us
in last year's battle of Cambrai, bor
aloft on outstretched wings. It h
horrible eyes, and out of its sne
roured masses of consuming flame.
short, if the truth were told, the h
man pictured the new engine of wi
fare as a sort of flying dragon. A
dragons, :t ia admitted, are hard
explain.
The Fighting Flier
Explain? Things
But the experienced military aim
took it calmly. They had met par
armored aeroplanes before, had fou
with them and analyzed them. Tl
knew that aerial armor is no new
vention. They knew to what ext
steel plate could be added to exist
models of 'planes and what disadv;
tage would go with the innovation.
In all this they had a cruel adv
tage over the parlor strategist, who
forced to take his information fr
the newspaper headlines, and who
cordingly had never been infoni
that armor has been used on ae
planes for fully three years.
The first partly armored 'plane i
? Boche contrivance which made
debut in the second Battle of Ypres
the spring of 1916. It carried one-?
teenth of an inch of armor underne
the cells protecting the pilot i
gunner and the gasolene tank* agai
I
shrapnel fired from below. The Tom?
mies called this 'plane the "Copper
Belly." The armor could stand the
pop of machine-gun bullets from a dis?
tance and the exploding fragments of
shells, but could put up no resistance
to the direct impact of a projectile.
A more elaborately armored 'plane
appeared on the Somme in the spring
of 1917. It was of familiar type, was
almost invulnerable from below, but
was extremely sluggish in its move?
ments. It was used chiefly for contact
patrol work?that is, in cooperation
with the infantry for front line scout?
ing. The steel plate was concentrated
around the pilot, the gunner being left
virtually unprotected.
The Boche Has
Tried Them Before
Still another machine appeared dur?
ing the recent British advance on Ar
ras. It was extenstively armored with
steel one-quarter of an inch thick, and
was used for attacking infantry. It
was quite vulnerable from above. Ap?
parently the Boche was working tow?
ard a type of machine which would
protect all its passengers from all di?
rections?which could, in the words of
the imaginative war correspondent,
"loaf along, not seeming to mind." It
was the fact that this type seemed to
have been achieved last week that made
such a sensation among airmen.
Now it seems to be true that this
new flying tank is adequately protect?
ed from all angles against machine
guns and all sorts of pop bullets. It
need not "mind" them. But it is not
at all protected against shells and
heavier projectiles, of a type often
shot from Allied aeroplanes. There
are plenty of 'planes in use to-day
capable of carrying guns which can
demolish the new monster with a
single shot. It is only necessary to
bring up these 'planes and equip them
in order to put the tank immediately
upon the defensive. Moreover, the
new German contrivance eaems to be
so sluggish in movement that it can
be outmanoeuvred without trouble by
almost any other type of machine.
The mystery of how a mass bf armor
plate can be carried on wings is easily
explained, according to Dean Ivan
Lamb, who was for two years with th??
English Royal Flying Corps, has eight
German machines officially to his
I credit, and was wounded in a fighi
with one of the earlier types of ar?
mored 'planes.
The flying tank is not an aeroplane
built of steel, he points out. It i?
merely a 'plane of a familiar type,
protected in certain vital spots. The
total weight of this armor is not great
It can easily be offset by a lighten?
ing of other burdens, chiefly gasolin?
and bombs, ordinarily carried for Ion?:
flights. Besides, the armor itself takes
the place of certain heavy parts used
in the construction of ordinary ma
chines. Hence it is possible to buile
a machine completely armored (ir
vital spots) and send it out to flghj
carrying no greater total /weight thar
GERMANY'S ARMORED TANK AND THE MEANS OF ITS DESTRUCTION
(Upper Corner)?Dean Ivan Lamo, who tells just what the flying tank is and how it can be defeated.
(Lower Corner)?French 37-millimetre gun mounted on a boisin flier for use against U-boats. Explosive shells fired by this gun would pierce
any armor put on an aeroplane. (Courtesy of "Flying.")
This drawing shows the Flying Tank, according to descriptions fro m abroad, as it would appear in action.
an ordinary unprotected battle 'plane, !
The large British Handley-Page. for|
instance, is capable of carrying 2,0001
pounds of bombs. Dispense with these
bombs and you have more than enough
to spare to encase all the occupants
and the vital' parts of the machinery
with steel 5-16 of an inch thick.
Take an ordinary machine, Mr. Lamb
suggests, and see what you can omit
from its burden for the purposes of
ordinary patrol work. The machine
ordinarily carries gasolene for five
hours, which, at twelve gallons per
hour and eig?ii pounds per gallon,
amounts to 480 pounds. You can re?
duce your supply to suffice for 3%
. hours and save 336 pounds, besides,
j say, fourteen pounds of oil. You omit
your bombs, which for ordinary work j
would total at least 250 pounds, and
your wireless machine, another 25
pounds. Now your armor, being built
into the machine, takes the place of !
: certain parts of the body and of the i
slight amount of armor usually put or. ]
j an ordinary 'plane. Itemizing this list,,
you find you have effected the follow?
ing savings:
Gas and oil . 350 pounds
Pombs . 250 pounds
Wireless . 25 pounds
Parts . 20 pounds
Gas tank. 30 pounds
Armor . 40 pounds
Miscellaneous ... 20 pounds
735 pounds saved.
French Craft in , Use Against
U-Boats Mounts Gun Firing
Explosive Shell More Than
Match For Flying
Tank
Now, adequate armor for the pilot !
and gunner by no means implies in
creasing them on every side in solid j
steel. It is enough to protect your
pilot front and back and underneath,
and your gunner in back, curving these
protections around on the sides. The
?ank on which the pilot sits is his pro?
tection from beneath Directly above
he needs none, for a shot squarely
from above is very difficult to land. Ac
cordingly, you would need four square
feet of armor plate at each side of
your pilot, and another four square
feet in back, fourteen square feet be?
neath the gasolene tank, six 3quare
feet above your engine and four square i
feet in back of your gunner. The tests
?how that A of an inch is sufficient
protection against machine gun bullets
'protection against heavier guns bting,
of course, out of the question). At 12
pounds per square foot, then, this ax
mor would itemize as follows:
Pounds
Eight square feet two sides for
pilot . 96
Four square feet back of pilot. 48
Four square feet back of gunner 48
Six square feet above engine.. 72
Fourteen square feet beneath
tank . 168
Total . 432
This is admittedly a conservative es?
timate for armor, but it would be ade?
quate to meet the problem and sug?
gests how simple the principle is. The
tables here show a leeway of 303
pounds for additional steel plate if
desired.
The machine on which this estimate
is based might probably carry a motor
of from 170 to 230 horsepower and
might have a 50-foot span. Its normal
weight without passengers or equip?
ment might slightly exceed 2,000
pounds. If armored even beyond the
735 pounds here allowed, it could still
carry the additional weight by means
of a greater cambre or curvature of
the wings. This would, of course, di?
minish the agility o! the machine, but
that is to be expected.
A Low Flying
Slow Machine
The new German flying tank, to
judge from reports, seems to be of the
two-engine tractor, twin-fusilage type,
carrying a pilot and two gunners. It
is unusually heavy, but apparently no
effort has been made to increase its
size proportionately with its weight.
Instead a sacrifice is made in speed and
mobility. Its span is reported as sixty
feet, far less than that of the huge
British Handley-Page, which has been
known to spread its wings ninety-six
feet. It remains, then, a slow-moving,
low-flying piece of machinery, probably
capable of no more than sixty miles an
hour on a straightaway run, and quite
incapable of the dive, the spin and
i other sensational stunts. Any ordinary
; aeroplane can fly all around it if it can
! escape the bullets from its machine
guns. Presumably the nocelle, in which
ail the military business is transacted,
! is-wholly built of steel, five-sixteenths
j of an inch thick. Mr. Lamb believes
the reports of three-eighths of an j^?, j
are exaggerated.) The men sit low fo
their cave?, only the head rising abe?t
the edge. The guna, protected wfth ,
stee! screen, are placed on a swivelsad
are capable of firinj- rot only t? t\\
points of the compass, but downward
as well, through a gun tunnel A*.
cordingly, the machine has few "blyrj
spotr." which the enemy dare attac*.
with immunity, and these spots are tx.
tremely hard to hit effectively. In ,*?
probability the men themselves we?
ar rn or, a practice common in all t'w
heavier machines. The total weightof
the tank, without passengers or equip.
ment, may be as high as 4,000 pounds.
The nocelle itself, Mr. Lamb calculate?]
carries eighty-eight square feet of ar?
mor plate, totally 1,05*3 pounds. Sir.
hundred pounds of this would appear
in an ordinary qar, so but 456 poundi
additional need be accounted for.
Now the only serious aspect fa
connection with this new bird ig the
fact that at the time it appeared the?
were no guns then mounted on 'plane*
capable of dealing with it. The tail
? took the American fliers by surpria??
that is the whole of the story.
French Gun Could
Shoot It Down
But, Mr. Lamb points out, there hir?
for months been French aeroplanes of.
erating ir. the English Channel dealing
, destruction to hostile U-boatg. Tbtrt
i is, for instance, the Voisin type,
' equipped with a 37-miilimetre gun,
j capeble of piercing seven-eighths of an
: inch of steel and of sending any U-boal
! to kingdom come. The shell of thh
: gun is 14 inches long md 2H inch?
' in diameter at the base. The proj?
? tile has about the- diameter of an or?
dinary ' salt cellar. As it pierces tat?
steel it explodes and throws shrapnu
; in every direction.. Rumor credit? thi
' shell with having put many a sub
' marine out of business.
Bat just because these Vosin ma
chines have proved so useful ajraini
' the U-boats, they didn't happen W ?
! land-lubbering around Toul, where tin
: flying tank appeared. They had no
previously been considered useful oi
land, for they are a bit unwieldy am
of course no match for the ordinarj
; aeroplane.
Nevertheless they are quit* agile
enough to take care of a flym-f, unV
which has the grace and verve o? a
elephant. Adequately armored in frei
they could face their opponent i
comparative safety, for they con
i keep their nose to business most of t
time and fire their shells with relati
impunity. Instead of the 37-millimel
; gun, Mr. Lamb points out, they mi?,
carry the new Davis non-recoil f
which can discharge a projectile
? large as three inches in diamei
Shooting two charges at once, a bi
ness shot in front and a blank in
opposite drection, it neutralizes
"kick," and serves ideally for hi
aeroplane use. There are rumors,
, of another and still more iormidi
gun soon to be mounted for aerial
: but we wouldn't for the world let
Boche know about it.
Our Negf o Doughboys Make Good-?s Usual
WHEN two privates of a New
York negro regiment won the
French war cross and th(
highest praise of the commanding gen?
erals a few days ago, they merely up
held a tradition?too little known?o:
gallantry and heroism by negro fight
ers in the American forces for the las
. half century. From the time whei
? Shaw enrolled the first black regimen
i under tho Stars and Stripes till to
! day, when the sons of the freedmai
! are worthily holding a share of th
West front line, the black regiment
have, carried their full share of all th
burdens and dangers faced by th
American armies. Against the Indian.1
in Cuba, in the Philippines and alon
the border the record has been th
: same?and it is one to be envied.
Battling with twelve times thei
< number of Germans and cut off fror
j supports, two negro infantrymen c
the old 15th New York Regiment, no1
the 369th, performed as stirring a dee
! of gallantry as ever graced the hone
j roll of an army.
The black warriors are Privat?
j Henry Johnson and Needhatn Robert
; The negroes, armed with rifles, han
i grenades and bolo knives, in the ear!
morning of May 15 were at an impo
tant post fifty yards nearer the enen
than the main line of resistance. 1
the pitch darkness Johnson heai
1 slight sounds behind him and caugl
1 sight of a man crawling on the edi
j of the barbed wire with which the po
I was hedged about. His cry of alax
j was heard back in main post and
?tar shell was sent up. Almost simi
taneously a volley of German grenad
was hurled at tha two soldiers.
Instantly Roberts fall with thi
wounds on his arms. The right arm ,
was rendered useless, but with the left
he groped around for his basket of
I grenades and although lying on the
? ground began throwing them.
Johnson fired his rifle at the nearest
I adversary. The German fell, but an
i other jumped toward Johnson and was
1 almost upon him when the colored boy
swung his clubbed rifle and sent the
j butt crashing through the enemy's
' skull. Then he turned toward Roberts,
who was battling with three Germans,
, one of whose hands was clutching at
( his throat. At the same time a dozen
i others had penetrated the wire, fired
! three revolver shots, and Johnson went
'? down with three bullet wounds in the
1 left leg, the right hip and the right
| forearm. Staggering to his feet he
j unsheathed his bolo knife and sent
! the blade slicing through the skull of
j the man whose hands were at the
| throat of the prostrate Roberts. Turn?
ing he drove the knife through tht
? stomach of another.
What happened then seems a bil
; hazy, for Roberts had fainted anc
1 Johnson was weak from loss of blood
1 However, the German raiding partj
1 fled and after them Johnson hurled hif
last grenade and saw the explosioi
i scatter the hindmost German in pieces
?"French General
? Praises Negroes
When the French general command
j ing the division received the report o
j the American officer in imm?diat
charge he declared it was much to?
| modest to signalize so daring an ex
j ploit. His own view finds expressioi
j in the following citations issued in th
I divisional order of the day:
"Private Henry Johnson, finding
himself on night sentry duty and
being attacked by a group of more
than a dozen Germans, put one hors
de combat with rifle shots and two
others with knife cuts. Although
wounded thrice by revolver bullets
and grenades at the start of the
fight, he went to the help of, his
wounded comrade as the latter was
about to be carried, off by the enemj
and continued the struggle until th?
Germans were forced to flee. He
gave a magnificent example of cour
age and energy.
"Private Needham Roberts, find
ing himself on night sentry duty at
tacked and badly wounded in the let
by a group of Germans, continued t<
throw hand granadas, although fallei
to the ground, until the enemy was j
, forced to flee. A good and brave
? soidier."
i But the citation for valor by the
I French government and the war crosses
i that go with it and the joy among their
! comrades in the regiment is as noth
! ing compared to the pride of their
I families and friends that these two
! negro boys have been awarded one of
i the greatest honors that any American
soldier has received in the World War.
Johnson's home-was in Albany, and
? when his wife heard he was painfully
; wounded in a French hospital she was
: happy in the assurance that he was
'? being well cared for, and in the hope
| that some day she would walk down
the avenue by his side while he wore
- the French War Cross on his breast.
j "And his name ain't Henry, either,"
' said Mrs. Johnson, who is a stickler
i_
for particulars in these matters. "It's ]
Bill, but everybody aroun' here called
him Henry before I got him."
"Bill's not big," she emphasized,
"but. believe me he can go some. And
I knew that if Bill ever got to the
trenches he'd put quite a few of the
Kaiser's baby killers where they would
do no more harm, and if Bill gets well
and they give him a chance he'll do
his share in getting the Kaiser him?
self. Just leave it to Bill. Believe me
he can go some!"
Big Reception
Waiting for Him
Private Johnson answered the call
of his country last summer, when Col?
onel William Hayward, a former Pub
i lie Service Commissioner, organized
I the 15th Colored New York Regiment,
| which was later mustered into the
I
THE NEGROES WHO WON THE WAR CROSS
H?NRYJOHNSON ~ NEEDHAM ROBERTS
Federal service. Before that time
Johnson had lived the unostentatious
! life of a working man employed by a
coal and wood dealer in North Albany.
He joined Company C, with his friend,
Charles Jackson. The latter's sister,
Georgia, married Johnson just before
i the regiment left for France, and as
i she and her mother sat in their humble
home in North Monroe Street in Al?
bany they received the congratulations
of the whole neighborhood. Mrs. John?
son declared that when her husband
! gets back to Monroe Street he will find
i the most hospitable reception that any
soldier could wish for.
While Mrs. Johnson told about her
soldier husband her mother sat across
the table knitting socks for soldiers.
She said she had just come from the
Red Cross headquarters, where a lot of
! colored women, many of whom had
| sons, brothers or husbands in the ser
; vice, had been doing their share for
i the comfort of the men in the nation's
' service.
Was Going to
| Get One, At Least
The family of the other colored war?
rior, Needham Roberts, who is only
twenty years old, live in Trenton, N.
i J? and are the envy of the town, white
i as well as black. Roberts's father, the
I Rev. Norman J. Roberts, is on week
I days a porter in the white marble
i building of the Trenton Banking Com
! pany, and as he goes to work these
i mornings he holds his head very high.
On Sundays the Rev. Mr. Roberts is
i pastor of the Mount Holly A. M. E.
i Church, a position he has filled for the
l past ten years.
Needham, when he enlisted in the
i old 15th, was an elevator boy in a New
! York City apartment, and before be
i coming a soldier had made several un
! successful attempts to join the navy.
I His sister tells with great pride how
? she helped him to run away several
! times to join the navy, when he was a
! mere boy, only to return, for he would
| not bo accepted, as he was then too
i young.
The confidence the family had that
their boy would make good in the army
| was expressed by the mother.
"He used to say to me," "she said,
" 'Mom, I'm goin' to get one of the
Germans before they get me,' an' he
did. And he sure did get one of tho
big prizes."
The news ? quickly spread through
the negro neighborhood that the star
in the window of the Roberts home
atood for the flrat Trenton boy to win
\V)-___". ""\ yc ys ^^^t?>
i the war cross, and one of the first two
American negro soldiers to be deco?
rated. The colored boys stare long at
the star. One of them expressed the
| hopes and expectations of all the
others. He said:
"Needham's done somethin' powerful
big over there. We all must be sol
1 diers and get one of them medals, too."
In all the negro circles in the city
pride in the atmievement of the two
1 soldiers for the past several days has
taken precedence over every topic. It
is the negroes' one subject of conver
sation.
? The Colonel's Praise
| Of His Battalions
Recently Colonel William Hayward
wrote to Frederick R. Moore, editor of
I "The New Age," of his experience with
I and confidence in his negro soldiers.
He said in part:
"To-day I have two battalions in
the trenches of the first line. The
officers and men have done splendid?
ly. The men s;ng a song Uhey are
always singing) that has a couple of
lines like this:
We used to use the picks and
spades,
But now we throw the hand
grenades.
"And they surely do throw them.
| One of the men tossed one prema?
turely the other day when we were
| laying down a barrage. I afterward
i scolded him for his haste and asked
? him what had made him so precipi
| t?te. He said, 'Why, Kunnel, dat ole
grenade she started to swell right
up in mah hand an' I simply had to
fling 'er.'
"i am very proud of them. They
| are clean, brave men, fearing noth?
ing, daring everything. General Foch
? saya of them: 'They are very strong
i and stout-hearted?and very rash.'
The friends of the regiment ought
to rejoice that we are up here with
the splendid French, where bravery,
hardihood, character, and not a roan a
color count." ,
Problem, However,
Is Not Simple
So far, the problem looks abfurflj
simple. There is a machine that ett
shDOt down the flying tank, and we
should worry, you say. But of coune
the problem is not so simple. No wsr
problem ever is. What, for instance,
about a_ machine that will shoot down
a machine that will shoot down a tank!
And a machine that will shjot that
machine down, and so on? If th?
Boche can provide a sufficient ??cort
of rapid manoeuvring planes to wardoS
the attacker, the tank can continu?
its deadly work.
in thib, say the experts, we have ?a
teied a new phase of aerial warfsr?.
The problem is somewhat analogous t?
that of naval fighting. On the sea yo?
have dreadnoughts that can pou*.
anything out of existence. But th*M
are vulnerable to a squadron of fut*
?nips. There bust be battle-cruiMrt
to protect the dreadnoughts, and lifk*
cruisers to protect the battle cruis??
and destroyers to protect the lit*'
cruisers. In other words, wsrshil*
must usually travel in families.
And so, too, it appears, must sew
planes in Uio future. The annotai
tank is regarded here as the experi?
mental precursor of an aerial armors?
battleship, which may some day A*
velop into a dreadnought. By Kiel! ?
?will probably be almost useless? 80t"
protected by a flee' of light air ?**]
ers," capable cf clearing away oppo*1*
tion, it may become deadly in th? ?**
treme. Beyond a doubt the Boche a
working on this very problem of tW
proper composition of the aerial a*
of the future. It is common knowl??
that he has tended to do his ???*
lighting in t-.quadrons. sometime? ?*
many as forty 'planes at a tin,*lJJ
has shown himself adept in fK"jy
1 movement. Mere mass attacK VL^
no means be the aim cf their -??"?J.
; of grouping. The period of ????J^**.
i tiation appears to have begun, w> ^
! may soon hear the elaboraU ?*?
! aeroplanes of all sorts, eacn ??L>
I ing a specified work, and aii^?J^,
i their functions by signals from ?
irai flagship. i? Ala ?
in short, expert, opinion ??J -?
regards the flying tank of ?**,?
mero experiment, o? no fl^lJ?Zft?at
he Allies save for the ?^?T^i
I fact that it brought to earth w r
lint ?Major Luibery. ?meil?
But what may develop Iro*?Tj??
p?riment that gives the ?WtJSI
for thought? H. G. Wella ?W?||
a new "War in the Air- o? Wi^jH

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