Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.

Pick one to live (open to additional suggestions)

Please note that results are sorted by decreasing number of votes received.

BAC TSR-2
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75%
Hawker Siddeley P.1154
2
25%
Armstrong Whitworth AW.681
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Total votes: 8

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Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by Jensy »

So, rather than polluting other threads with misty eyed dreams about lost or cancelled projects and 'missed opportunities', I thought I'd go ahead and create a thread... [mods - hope this is OK?]

Do you dream of gigantic, angular, variable geometry triangles from Barnes Wallis; rocket powered interceptors from SARO; jet flying boats; drug induced BAE ASTOVL designs; or even supersonic HP Victors? Then this is the thread for you.

As a starting point, here's the three big British aviation projects that got killed off in the 1960s. Which AVGeeks will no doubt still be debating the relative and comparative merits of for the next century or longer:

Armstrong Whitworth AW.681
A VTOL, jet C-130 Hercules contemporary.
Image

BAC TSR-2
The British 'Avro Arrow' lives on in Anime.
Image

Hawker Siddeley P.1154
Supersonic, VTOL wonder jet.
Image
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Re: Post-War British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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On the subject of TSR-2 the RAeS had a fantastic series of lectures on the topic about eight months ago (July 2023): https://www.youtube.com/@Aerosociety/videos
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by mrclark303 »

Jensy wrote: 25 Mar 2024, 17:51 So, rather than polluting other threads with misty eyed dreams about lost or cancelled projects and 'missed opportunities', I thought I'd go ahead and create a thread... [mods - hope this is OK?]

Do you dream of gigantic, angular, variable geometry triangles from Barnes Wallis; rocket powered interceptors from SARO; jet flying boats; drug induced BAE ASTOVL designs; or even supersonic HP Victors? Then this is the thread for you.

As a starting point, here's the three big British aviation projects that got killed off in the 1960s. Which AVGeeks will no doubt still be debating the relative and comparative merits of for the next century or longer:

Armstrong Whitworth AW.681
A VTOL, jet C-130 Hercules contemporary.
Image

BAC TSR-2
The British 'Avro Arrow' lives on in Anime.
Image

Hawker Siddeley P.1154
Supersonic, VTOL wonder jet.
Image
Looks like I've just found my new go to place, bloody well done Jensy......
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by mrclark303 »

avbucc_6.png
Here's the aircraft that should have been developed post TSR2, the Blackburn P150.

It was a realistic project, a long range strike aircraft using the Buccaneer as a starting point, stretching it, applying area ruling and using the already developed Spey with reheat combination from the F4K.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by mrclark303 »

Re the AW681, I seem to recall that Lockheed offered a Hercules based project, with a UK designed STOL wing and RR Tyne engines.

It would have given C130J levels of performance 30 years earlier.

Lockeed understood the UK's excellence in Wing design even then, a really doable trans Atlantic project that could have actually made money for a UK partner, instead of hemorrhaging it!
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Re: Post-War British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by mrclark303 »

Jensy wrote: 25 Mar 2024, 17:58 On the subject of TSR-2 the RAeS had a fantastic series of lectures on the topic about eight months ago (July 2023): https://www.youtube.com/@Aerosociety/videos
I would love to have attended these having watched the excellent videos.

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by SD67 »

mrclark303 wrote: 26 Mar 2024, 09:17 avbucc_6.png

Here's the aircraft that should have been developed post TSR2, the Blackburn P150.

It was a realistic project, a long range strike aircraft using the Buccaneer as a starting point, stretching it, applying area ruling and using the already developed Spey with reheat combination from the F4K.
I agree.

But in that case would Tornado have ever happened?

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by mrclark303 »

SD67 wrote: 26 Mar 2024, 11:38
mrclark303 wrote: 26 Mar 2024, 09:17 avbucc_6.png

Here's the aircraft that should have been developed post TSR2, the Blackburn P150.

It was a realistic project, a long range strike aircraft using the Buccaneer as a starting point, stretching it, applying area ruling and using the already developed Spey with reheat combination from the F4K.
I agree.

But in that case would Tornado have ever happened?
That's an interesting question, the P.150 would have been a more capable aircraft in many ways, possibly slower at ultra low altitude than Tornado, but probably with double the radius of action!

I wouldn't doubt that with a large weapons bay, the P.150 would have easily achieved 800 mile ROA, probably 1000.

Was that relevant in the late 60's, probably not, European integration was the name of the game, so Blackburn never got a look in.

It would have been a very capable aircraft for the RAF though.

It's facinating to consider the what if, that would have happened with a 'Buccaneer GR1', and no Tornado....

Certainly the RAF would have had aircraft entering service by 72/73, I would have every confidence that Blackburn were more than up to the job of delivering the aircraft.

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by Jensy »

mrclark303 wrote: 26 Mar 2024, 09:26 Re the AW681, I seem to recall that Lockheed offered a Hercules based project, with a UK designed STOL wing and RR Tyne engines.

It would have given C130J levels of performance 30 years earlier.

Lockeed understood the UK's excellence in Wing design even then, a really doable trans Atlantic project that could have actually made money for a UK partner, instead of hemorrhaging it!
There was the BAC-222 which was a Herc, with a stretched and raised fuselage, blown flaps, Tynes and a retractable refuelling probe.

Suspect it would have been an excellent aircraft and might even have poached some C-130 sales.

On a similar but larger scale was the 'Jet Belfast' which combined a Short Belfast fuselage with wings "very similar in design" to the C-141 Starlifter. Can't remember the proposed powerplant but assuming Conways for that era.

The best of Lockheed with a British accent.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by SW1 »

This book maybe of interest on transport aircraft topics

https://www.crecy.co.uk/on-atlas-shoulder

On Atlas' Shoulders: RAF Transport Aircraft Projects Since 1945


The coanda effect is used to aid lift by inservice aircraft today namely c17.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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SW1 wrote: 26 Mar 2024, 19:34 This book maybe of interest on transport aircraft topics

https://www.crecy.co.uk/on-atlas-shoulder

On Atlas' Shoulders: RAF Transport Aircraft Projects Since 1945


The coanda effect is used to aid lift by inservice aircraft today namely c17.
An excellent book with some very unexpected aircraft that were considered by the Air Ministry and others. The chapter on the C-5 in particular comes to mind. The value of twelve Galaxies versus 60 smaller airlifters was an interesting concept.

Not to sound like Chris Gibson's publicist, but I bought this last month (on offer on Amazon) and would also highly recommend it. Particularly, if like me, stretched HS Tridents with bomb-bays are your thing:
https://www.crecy.co.uk/nimrod-s-genesis
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by mrclark303 »

Jensy wrote: 26 Mar 2024, 22:59
SW1 wrote: 26 Mar 2024, 19:34 This book maybe of interest on transport aircraft topics

https://www.crecy.co.uk/on-atlas-shoulder

On Atlas' Shoulders: RAF Transport Aircraft Projects Since 1945


The coanda effect is used to aid lift by inservice aircraft today namely c17.
An excellent book with some very unexpected aircraft that were considered by the Air Ministry and others. The chapter on the C-5 in particular comes to mind. The value of twelve Galaxies versus 60 smaller airlifters was an interesting concept.

Not to sound like Chris Gibson's publicist, but I bought this last month (on offer on Amazon) and would also highly recommend it. Particularly, if like me, stretched HS Tridents with bomb-bays are your thing:
https://www.crecy.co.uk/nimrod-s-genesis
I do seem to recall that after the TSR2 programme was cancelled and a thinning out was carried out of staff, a number of them pitched their skills in the US, were they were snapped up...

I believe a number of ex BAC designers ( now happily
working for Lockheed), helped design the C5 wing.

Everything is in a circle chaps.....

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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That must have been a wrenching painful decision for those chaps, having to start a new life in 1960s California.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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SD67 wrote: 27 Mar 2024, 15:00 That must have been a wrenching painful decision for those chaps, having to start a new life in 1960s California.
Even harder for those left behind like my other halfs dad who was offered a job but could not take it he ended up a programer for British Nuclear Fuels

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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Should we have kept the Sea Harrier

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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bobp wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 16:54 Should we have kept the Sea Harrier

With the benefit of hindsight, a variety of poor decisions based on poor assumptions.

1) That JSF/JCA was going to enter service in 2012 (and in numbers). Which was the justification for binning a fleet of aircraft, some less than a decade old (the US AV-8 line was still running in 2003).

2) Split RAF/RN requirements over GR.5 and FA.2 variants led to a lack of commonality which inevitably limited the upgrades for the smaller Shar fleet... Even the USMC end up introducing a A2A radar variant.

3) The RAF and Royal Navy in the late 90s: "WE WANT STEALTH NOW"

In truth I could see a modernised 'FA.3' with Meteor providing a capable interceptor still but I suspect even if such an aircraft had gone ahead it would have fallen victim to the ideology of (occasional) ruthless efficiency that pervades the Treasury and Civil Service.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by SW1 »

The decision to delete sea harrier was in 2005 and implemented in 2006 so long gone by sdsr 2010. So that tweet is conflating several things.


The real question is should fa2 sea harrier ever been started. They should have gone for the av8b with the blue vixen radar and used it both in the RN and the RAF.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by Tempest414 »

SW1 wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 17:59 The decision to delete sea harrier was in 2005 and implemented in 2006 so long gone by sdsr 2010. So that tweet is conflating several things.


The real question is should fa2 sea harrier ever been started. They should have gone for the av8b with the blue vixen radar and used it both in the RN and the RAF.
Quite right however in 2010 we should have kept Harrier in RN service we had 74 aircraft plus a spears package we should have kept 24 in service with another 10 held in storage the rest would be striped for more parts to keep the fleet going the 34 remaining jets should have been given Blue Vixen radar to make FA-3

Outside this we should of kept Ark Royal and tried selling Lusty with 12 FA-2's

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by SW1 »

Tempest414 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 14:52
SW1 wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 17:59 The decision to delete sea harrier was in 2005 and implemented in 2006 so long gone by sdsr 2010. So that tweet is conflating several things.


The real question is should fa2 sea harrier ever been started. They should have gone for the av8b with the blue vixen radar and used it both in the RN and the RAF.
Quite right however in 2010 we should have kept Harrier in RN service we had 74 aircraft plus a spears package we should have kept 24 in service with another 10 held in storage the rest would be striped for more parts to keep the fleet going the 34 remaining jets should have been given Blue Vixen radar to make FA-3

Outside this we should of kept Ark Royal and tried selling Lusty with 12 FA-2's
That wouldn’t have made any sense at all. The decision in 2010 was to have a 2 type fastjet fleet. Not start a major redesign on one to integrate an old radar which by then was nearly 5 years out of service which would have effectively meant you only had one type of fastjet.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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SW1 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 15:38
Tempest414 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 14:52
SW1 wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 17:59 The decision to delete sea harrier was in 2005 and implemented in 2006 so long gone by sdsr 2010. So that tweet is conflating several things.


The real question is should fa2 sea harrier ever been started. They should have gone for the av8b with the blue vixen radar and used it both in the RN and the RAF.
Quite right however in 2010 we should have kept Harrier in RN service we had 74 aircraft plus a spears package we should have kept 24 in service with another 10 held in storage the rest would be striped for more parts to keep the fleet going the 34 remaining jets should have been given Blue Vixen radar to make FA-3

Outside this we should of kept Ark Royal and tried selling Lusty with 12 FA-2's
That wouldn’t have made any sense at all. The decision in 2010 was to have a 2 type fastjet fleet. Not start a major redesign on one to integrate an old radar which by then was nearly 5 years out of service which would have effectively meant you only had one type of fastjet.
Fine they could have fitted the American radar. the 2 type jet fleet is what the RAF wanted first and for most but even if we had just kept the the 74 Harriers as were and gave the FAA 24 jets with 2 front line sqns of 8 and a OCU of 8 we could of run Harrier until 2030

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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Tempest414 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 15:57
SW1 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 15:38
Tempest414 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 14:52
SW1 wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 17:59 The decision to delete sea harrier was in 2005 and implemented in 2006 so long gone by sdsr 2010. So that tweet is conflating several things.


The real question is should fa2 sea harrier ever been started. They should have gone for the av8b with the blue vixen radar and used it both in the RN and the RAF.
Quite right however in 2010 we should have kept Harrier in RN service we had 74 aircraft plus a spears package we should have kept 24 in service with another 10 held in storage the rest would be striped for more parts to keep the fleet going the 34 remaining jets should have been given Blue Vixen radar to make FA-3

Outside this we should of kept Ark Royal and tried selling Lusty with 12 FA-2's
That wouldn’t have made any sense at all. The decision in 2010 was to have a 2 type fastjet fleet. Not start a major redesign on one to integrate an old radar which by then was nearly 5 years out of service which would have effectively meant you only had one type of fastjet.
Fine they could have fitted the American radar. the 2 type jet fleet is what the RAF wanted first and for most but even if we had just kept the the 74 Harriers as were and gave the FAA 24 jets with 2 front line sqns of 8 and a OCU of 8 we could of run Harrier until 2030
There was no way they were integrating a radar to the harrier fleet in 2010 it would have taken too many airframes out of service to do it, if it was to be one of the two fastjet types to remain because it would have needed to go back to Afghanistan.

The FAA already had a harrier gr9 Sqn and deployed to Afghanistan with it, it was struggling with personnel to stand up the 2nd squadron hence why joint force harrier only made it to 3 operational sqns instead of 4.

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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SW1 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 16:20 There was no way they were integrating a radar to the harrier fleet in 2010 it would have taken too many airframes out of service to do it, if it was to be one of the two fastjet types to remain because it would have needed to go back to Afghanistan.
Over the years, I've seen mentions of a Blue Vixen pod for the GR.x Harriers but have never actually seen official references to it. Much less a schematic.

Would obviously be a less than ideal solution but not far off the USMC approach of having only a handful of AV-8B+ fitted with APG-65.

In a different world we could have perhaps ordered new aircraft to a common standard in the late 90s, in place of the GR.9 upgrade. Either AV-8B+ (which had huge UK content and could possibly have been built here) or a Sea Harrier FA.2 esque aircraft for both services but with the uprated Pegasus Mk.107. Which we ordered 40 of from R-R in 99. Everything we needed was in production.

However the Peace Dividend / Typhoon / JCA would have made that a hard sell. Plus as I mentioned above, an obsession with 'stealth'.

Would certainly have down scaled any CVF plans, simply by the no longer needing to accommodate JSF.... But that's a different topic.

Edit: Out of interest, the govt. in 2004 quoted a price of £600m, for what I presume was BAE's proposal to fit Blue Vixen.
Mr. Ingram: There are no plans to further enhance the air defence capability of the RAF's Harrier GR7/9 fleet. However, it is estimated that the cost of fitting air to air radar and the beyond visual range advanced medium missile system to these aircraft would be in excess of £600 million.
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/c ... 105w06.htm

A Ferranti advert for Blue Vixen:
https://www.reddit.com/media?url=https% ... tn6591.png

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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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Jensy wrote: 04 Apr 2024, 22:02
SW1 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 16:20 There was no way they were integrating a radar to the harrier fleet in 2010 it would have taken too many airframes out of service to do it, if it was to be one of the two fastjet types to remain because it would have needed to go back to Afghanistan.
Over the years, I've seen mentions of a Blue Vixen pod for the GR.x Harriers but have never actually seen official references to it. Much less a schematic.

Would obviously be a less than ideal solution but not far off the USMC approach of having only a handful of AV-8B+ fitted with APG-65.

In a different world we could have perhaps ordered new aircraft to a common standard in the late 90s, in place of the GR.9 upgrade. Either AV-8B+ (which had huge UK content and could possibly have been built here) or a Sea Harrier FA.2 esque aircraft for both services but with the uprated Pegasus Mk.107. Which we ordered 40 of from R-R in 99. Everything we needed was in production.

However the Peace Dividend / Typhoon / JCA would have made that a hard sell. Plus as I mentioned above, an obsession with 'stealth'.

Would certainly have down scaled any CVF plans, simply by the no longer needing to accommodate JSF.... But that's a different topic.

Edit: Out of interest, the govt. in 2004 quoted a price of £600m, for what I presume was BAE's proposal to fit Blue Vixen.
Mr. Ingram: There are no plans to further enhance the air defence capability of the RAF's Harrier GR7/9 fleet. However, it is estimated that the cost of fitting air to air radar and the beyond visual range advanced medium missile system to these aircraft would be in excess of £600 million.
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/c ... 105w06.htm

A Ferranti advert for Blue Vixen:
https://www.reddit.com/media?url=https% ... tn6591.png
I can’t really think where they would have mounted a podded radar system that would not of been comprised for air to air with fuselage blanking in some part of the field of view. I think that was clutching at straws.

The gr9 was mid 00s upgrade. The problem in 2010 would have been how many could be spared to go into deep refit and meet the need for a sustained Sqn which at that time was in a very demanding afghan conflict.

The problem with the fa2 was much the same with jaguar it ran out of hard points for the precision guided era when all the other things that needed carrying was added. That’s why the big wing on the av8/gr harrier was so good.


In the mid 80s they should have rolled jaguar, sea harrier and gr3 into an av8b replacement purchase. It could well be still flying today


That obsession will stealth still persists today.
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

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SW1 wrote: 04 Apr 2024, 23:29 I can’t really think where they would have mounted a podded radar system that would not of been comprised for air to air with fuselage blanking in some part of the field of view. I think that was clutching at straws.

The gr9 was mid 00s upgrade. The problem in 2010 would have been how many could be spared to go into deep refit and meet the need for a sustained Sqn which at that time was in a very demanding afghan conflict.

The problem with the fa2 was much the same with jaguar it ran out of hard points for the precision guided era when all the other things that needed carrying was added. That’s why the big wing on the av8/gr harrier was so good.


In the mid 80s they should have rolled jaguar, sea harrier and gr3 into an av8b replacement purchase. It could well be still flying today


That obsession will stealth still persists today.
Our failure to capitalise on the modest success of Kestrel/Harrier is a long and frustrating story.

Almost from the earliest days there were proposals for 'big-wing' options that could have vastly improved carry capability. By the 80s there was all sorts of exciting proposals: futuristic ASTVOL P.1214/6, Gripen like P.106, and much larger Harrier proposals.

In the end, we did a UK classic and went halves with the US for GR.5 and an excellent but constrained aircraft in the orphaned FA.2 fleet. Plus as you point out, Jaguar. An aircraft that arguably should never have existed.

I think what kept a single common type from emerging was timing. Sea Harrier was still factory new when what became GR.5 was selected. For the ideal situation, the Navy would need to scrap their existing fleet to jump on the AV-8B (with Blue Vixen) bandwagon, which might have been a tougher sell than upgrading new-ish FRS1s.

Stealth has become the new "Mach 2+ capability". Assumed to be vital for every platform irrespective of cost.

That the USN operates an outrageously expensive (2x F-35A and rising), low-observation, tanker drone is perhaps the peak of modern combat air vogue...
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Re: Post-war British Aviation - [Fantasy and Speculation]

Post by Little J »

An imagine what if:

... Blue Vixen as part of the original GR.5 spec, FA.2 gets replaced in the early 2000's by the FA.3 (GR.5 with ECR)... GR.5's get updated to new standard, Jag's replaced by the new FA.3...

3 types replaced by 1 common airframe, with common electronics from Typhoon...
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