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Das Abteilung

A39 MkIICS Tortoise Assault Gun - Panzer 46

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Das Abteilung    187

I clearly need to get the Panzer 46 bug out of my system after the E-10 and E-25.  But this one is completely fictitious.  It's Tortoise - but not as we know it, Captain.

 

So, the war has dragged on for various reasons. Facing my E-10 in Spring '47 across the refurbished Westwall is this little monster.  OK, fat monster.  Much of the Westwall was stripped for the Atlantic Wall, and in reality it was never restored.  But it still gave Allied forces a hard time.  In my scenario the slower/later withdrawal across France has given time for it to be reinstated to the formidable obstacle it was built to be.

 

As we know, Tortoise was designed around the OQF 32pdr derived from the 3.7" AA gun.  But this was essentially a high-ish velocity anti-tank gun firing a 32lb shell at about 2,900fps.  By comparison the 8.8cm KwK43 fired a 23lb shell at 3,300fps.  However, US experience in reducing the Metz fortifications showed that their most effective weapon was the 155mm M12 GMC, often boresighted at close range (real world fact).  This fired a 95lb shell at about 2,400fps, so a whole lot bigger and not a lot slower.  At least one captured German officer complained that its use amounted to a war crime: oh the irony!  With German armour now lurking behind the Westwall, and the Westwall still to get through, a tank destroyer wasn't of much immediate use and it was realised that the 32pdr probably wasn't up to the job of dealing with heavy fortifications, although its advocates suggested it was so accurate that it could post rounds through bunker slits.  So an assault gun version of Tortoise was quickly devised.  But what weapon?  4.5" gun or 5.5" howitzer seem most likely, maybe shortened with reduced charge in a brass case instead of bag charge, sliding breech instead of screw.  55lb shell for the 4.5, 100lb for the 5.5 - the latter being much too heavy to handle in the confines of the Tortoise.  So, 4.5" version it is. Which means I need a thick-wall barrel suitable for 114mm - yet to be identified.

 

Other changes I was going to make regardless of main gun are a 20mm Polsten cannon in the hull front mount instead of a BESA, similar to Centurion Mk1, and a change of MG from BESA to Browning in the cupola - as later happened on UK tanks anyway.  I suppose this would have been an RA vehicle rather than RAC in any case: other SP AT were RA-manned, and SP artillery was certainly RA.

 

Here's what I have so far.  The Meng kit, obviously, the ET Models etched brass set inc tow ropes, AFV Modeller resin pistol port, RB Models 32pdr, Polsten and Browning barrels, Schatton Modellbau BESA barrels.  Covering all the bases, but still needing a suitable "4.5"" barrel. But I've picked up a 6-month agency job starting on Monday so modelling time is going to be a lot more limited until February.

dJjt2y6.jpg

 

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Kris B    681

Interesting project. Could you sometime do the closeup photo of that BESA gun barrel please? 

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Das Abteilung    187

Kris, this is the best I can do of the BESA barrels without getting the macro lens out and taking another photo.  I can do that if you want.  The Schatton site could do with some improvement regarding product imagery.

 

There are 3 barrels here taped to the header card.  I got 3 in case I still decided to build a "normal" Tortoise.  Schatton BESA barrels are just the barrel with no shroud.  They are longer than the RB barrels, which come in 2 pieces.  I had some SKP BESA barrels too but sold them.  I must have thought the Schatton ones were better.  I saw no point in the Armourscale barrels with the etched brass and resin barrel shroud as they are in armoured shrouds or inside the cupola on Tortoise anyway and it wouldn't be seen.

 

Another reason for changing the cupola guns for Brownings is that the BESA installation as shown would have had very long inboard length if you look at the short external barrels. And the pistol grips hung down below the receiver.  Fitting Brownings mounted further forward with longer external barrel length and solenoid firing would have given more internal space for the commander's noggin.

 

A late breaking afterthought is rangefinder optics either side of the cupola or the main hull.  And yes, I will be removing the moulded "Caution - Unarmoured" warning triangles appropriate only to the P1 vehicle at Bovington. Most "in service" Tortoise models I've seen still have these, even still painted red: people obviously don't know what they are.

 

4OG4LQA.jpg

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Kris B    681

Cheers for that. 

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Das Abteilung    187

Did a bit of prep last night.  Early home as my client hasn't set me up an IT account despite knowing I'm coming for about 3 weeks, so I can't do any work as I need access to his systems to do anything.

 

Before I do anything with a new kit I sit with the kit instructions and those for etch sets etc and mark up the kit instructions for those parts that will be replaced or modified.  At the same time looking at the kit parts to decide if I'm going to use the add-on parts or not.  I decided that scraping off and replacing several types of locker catch with minute folded etched brass parts was unlikely to look any better than the kit mouldings with my skills.  I wasn't planning on depicting any open or undone, but might add a couple of padlocks on the bin catches which have hasps.  Same for the cupola hatch catch, although I might just replace the actual handle itself: not convinced the lack of undercut will be noticed.

 

The moulded plastic cable conduits on the glacis will be replaced with soft wire.  The parts leading to the headlamps are missing anyway.  ET provide etched cable clamps but I like lead sheet or metal foil for that, particularly the self-adhesive type.  It conforms better and the rivets are quickly represented with a pointed tool from the back.  I'm not faffing with removing mould lines and moulded strapping and brackets from the plastic fire extinguishers and replacing it with etch.  I have a couple of packs of the Panzer Art resin extinguishers, which are nice.  Likewise I'm not folding up an etched brass jerrycan bracket and straps.  I have some excellent TMD resin ones, empty and full, which will be much better.  Yes, the bottoms of those have rounded corners not square, but this is the MkII............  The track guard brackets are actually much more substantial than thin etched brass and the kit mouldings look the part.

 

So I've removed the various bits that will be replaced, and made good.  Meng had moulded all the grab handles, lifting handles and tie-down loops as solid so they were cut and scraped off and drilled for wire replacements.  As this will be an in-service vehicle I'll put some stowage where etched empty straps are provided, replacing the etched straps with something more flexible.  The etched brackets and buckles are OK.

 

Because of the moulding limitations, even with multi-part moulds, the cast texture doesn't extend everywhere it should.  There are also some annoying mould lines around the cast casemate and Meng have depicted a lot of parts like the engine deck and transmission access hatch as being absolutely smooth: which they were not.  I didn't feel that Mr Surfacer was the right approach here.  I find that liquid poly and a stiff nylon brush like the ones usually attached to the lids is very good for repairing and creating subtle cast texture. Apply the solvent more generously than you would for joining and let it work for a few moments.  Then use a solvent-wet brush in random swirly patterns with a bit of stippling.  You can repeat this if necessary.  By dragging softened plastic across the recessed parts of the casemate mould lines and blending it in with the brush I was able to deal with them without filler.  As the solvent evaporates you can get some slightly harder effects: like soft peak when making meringues................ (I do that all the time too!).  Of course I was high as a kite on solvent fumes afterwards............

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Das Abteilung    187

Early home again: still no IT access at the client.  But at least I'm still getting paid.

 

Cleaned up and scuffed up an awful lot of wheels and return rollers.  4 of each per bogie x 8 bogies.  Had a thought about making it look a bit different, so the front and rear trackguards have gone.  As have the fold-down sections along the tops of the side skirts.  These were only light metal and were designed to fold down for maintenance, but I can see that they might easily get packed with mud and debris: there were no mud chutes.  So my crew has removed them completely, like what was often done with Churchill top run covers.  That means the whole run of those chunky tracks will be visible, which should make it look very different.

 

6FlsaAB.jpg

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FrancisGL    1,769

It seems a good idea to leave the tracks as visible as possible, no doubt and it will look different and very rude ...:popcorn:

Cheers mate :yes:

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Das Abteilung    187

Yeah.  I've just got to find a way of getting them in and joined.  These indy links don't hold together on their own, so I'm going to need to do 4 glued sections I think: top & bottom runs, front round the idler & back round the sprockets.  Sprockets could be troublesome: will need to see how tight the teeth fit.  I'm leaving the sprockets free to rotate, as they'll never line up otherwise.

 

Haven't decided on a gun barrel.  Tank gun barrels are no good as they're too parallel-sided: I need an artillery barrel, but they're larger or smaller calibres.  I'm leaning towards the 10.5cm K18 from a Dicker Max.  RB do an alloy one with big brass brake, and Panzer Art do a resin one with covered brake.  Resin barrels have a tendency in my experience to be not straight.  It's about 1cm too small in diameter in real life, about 0.6mm in scale.  I think I can get away with that.

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Das Abteilung    187
Posted (edited)

Some progress.  Got the suspension finished and the upper and lower hull joined.  Note to self: I HATE THOSE BOGIES!  Far too many parts for something that will never be seen, and not well designed or engineered.  Clipped all the track links from the sprues into a little box for later cleanup.  At 4 or 5 sprue gates per link that's nearly 1,000 to clean up: beam me up, Scotty........... Fortunately no flash and no pin marks or mould lines that will be visible.

 

Fitted the AFV Modeller resin pistol port and added scratchbuilt coincidence rangefinder ports either side.  This should really be in front of the gunner but that wouldn't be possible with the vehicle layout.  It has to be behind him, and so is for the commander to use.  In a vehicle like this, not intended to get caught up in tank dogfights, I don't think it would be a problem for the commander to range the target.  In a close engagement the gunner would rely on his direct sight graticule anyway and precise ranging would be irrelevant.  The rangefinder would be for long range work.

 

Having removed the front & rear trackguards I realised I had no idea how they were actually fitted.  Bovington day on Thursday, so chance for a close look.  The horizontal join with the main trackgurds was bolted, but believe it or not the joins with the hull were welded - on expendable sheet metal!  Of course what was done on P1 would not necessarily be representative of a production configuration.  So I assumed that sanity might have prevailed with bolted joins all round, and added some bolt mounting flanges where the trackguards were attached.

 

Antenna bases were replaced with Panzer Art resin ones, but I broke the base off one and had to improvise.  I looked out a pack of Verlinden resin stowage boxes, some Asuka UK jerrycans and Airwaves etched jerry can racks.  Will see where any of those might fit: there were built-in stowage boxes either side of the engine compartment anyway.  Long bins either side of the upper casemate might have worked, but I've screwed that with the rangefinder and pistol port.  Casemate rear wall is a possibility for a bin and more can stowage, with an ammo box bin on the left front trackguard.

 

Something I hadn't realised until putting the running gear together is that Tortoise was rear engined but front drive, unlike every other UK AFV of the period and most heavy AFV since.  The US finally cottoned-on to rear drive with the T28 while we went the other way: odd.  That explains the big glacis access hatch - to get to the transmission. I imagine the last thing this vehicle needed was a drive shaft running through the fighting compartment right under the gun, and reducing the size of the back end would hardly seem a design priority or serve any purpose.  In an idle moment I wondered what a rear-engined Tortoise might look like, with casemate moved forward and perhaps lowered and/or extended, reverse the running gear and increase the size of the engine bay.  But that would be a great deal of work.

 

GM0eLbr.jpg

Edited by Das Abteilung
correction

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Das Abteilung    187

So, we've jumped from the fairly bare shell pictured above to something pretty much completed apart from the tracks and soft stowage.

 

I eventually went for a plain-muzzle German 12.8cm barrel I picked up at Avon IPMS at the weekend.  It's strictly about 13mm too large, but that's only 0.4mm in scale.  A set of Verlinden stowage boxes was raided, along with a pack of Panzer Art fire extinguishers and Panzer Art British jerrycans.  I'll be raiding the stowage bits box for some soft stowage. I toyed with a 0.50 Browning AA MG for the commander on the basis that the Lutfwaffe might still be troublesome, but concluded that it would obstruct the cupola MGs.  The commander's cupola is deliberately below their 0 elevation to give a clear field of fire.  I copied the 20mm Polsten mount from a Centurion Mk1: I think it came out OK.  The kit's useless moulded wiring conduits were replaced with lead wire and lead sheet saddles, and the missing headlight conduits added.

 

Something odd.  The smoke dischargers came in left and right handed versions, but Tortoise had 3 left-handed versions with an upside-down left hander instead of a right hander on the right.  This might have been a P1 peculiarity, but isn't easy to change without scratching a whole new mounting, assuming a service version would have used a right-hander on the right.  So I left it.

 

There's something odd with the kit geometry on the gun travel lock too.  I couldn't get it to fold backwards without fouling the casemate, never mind the barrel shield.  Then I found an old Bovington photo showing that it was opened up before folding, but it still wouldn't fit.  So I had to shorten it by a couple of mm and stretch the legs wider to match, but I made a bit of a mess of it overall so It'll be covered with some cam net.

 

Now to clean up hundreds of sprue gates on the track links and try making up some track runs.........

 

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vWbNkET.jpg

 

o4M9DuZ.jpg

 

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Das Abteilung    187

Made up some stowage, and apart from the tracks I think I'm calling this "done".  

 

It struck me that the kit provided no tool stowage at all, perhaps not surprising as they copied a prototype.  So I rummaged around and found some suitable tools.  Before anyone says that the rear deck stowage has no visible means of support, that's quite right.  I've made the stowage up as a single unattached block to be removed for painting, but the kitbag needs some putty underneath to match the deck angles..  Once painted and fitted it will be roped to grab handles and tie-downs.  The folded tarps are Eureka XXL products, and they're really nicely done.  Not expensive either, but packs are small.  The resin is very workable, quite soft and easy to cut the pour blocks off with nippers and sanding (with face mask!). No sawing and no bits of hard crispy resin pinging everywhere from nippers. I really like standard large emery boards for sanding down pour blocks. Place them flat on your work surface and move the resin piece slowly back and forth: I prefer side to side rather than front-back.  Minimises the dust too.  The boards stay flat and don't ruck up or crease, but clog quickly with resin - but are cheap enough to be disposable.

 

As noted in the last post, messed-up gun travel lock is covered with some cam net.  Despite various modern products I still like cotton plastering scrim soaked in diluted PVA.  Not so easy to find now: I ended up getting a roll from a guy who does architectural restorations.  Tea leaves work for the "foliage", sprinkled while the scrim is still wet.   Old school........

 

If anyone has a pack of the Verlinden "strap material" stashed away, throw it away.  Useless.  It's just commercial self-adhesive plastic sheet, and not very sticky at that.  It cracks into angular shapes rather than forming curves, too.  I gave up and resorted to the trusty lead sheet.

 

S7lwilO.jpg

 

R32uA08.jpg

 

kjKKtlg.jpg

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Das Abteilung    187

A couple of weeks with not much progress.  Back at work for 6 months, visitors, domestic engineering .......

 

Got a coat of paint on.  Or rather, 3 coats.  Brown Army Painter rattle can primer, with a light overspray of black rattle can to darken it a little for chipping.  The end of the gun barrel was sprayed white from another rattle can then masked.  I found an old pair of craft scissors with wavy blades that were just right for this pattern.  I believe you can get similar things in craft shops like Hobbycraft.  Then hair spray all over, as the Chipping Fluid products didn't work for me on the Entwicklungsfahrzeuge so I thought I would try the more traditional and much-recommended hairspray.

 

I took a bit of a risk with the main colour coat, because I tried Hataka paint for the 1st time.  It's fair to say these have received very mixed reviews on this and other forum sites, but I didn't have any more trouble than I do with any other paint brand.  Yes, I needed an airbrush with a 0.5mm needle, having tried a 0.3mm which didn't work.  But what's the problem with that: it's a big beast to cover.  A lot of paint and airbrush reviews come across to me as saying, in effect, that any paint or airbrush is practically useless if you can't cover acres with a 0.2mm needle at gnat's breath PSI in a single pass.  Maybe I misinterpreted.

 

The colour here is Hataka's SCC14 Olive Drab, which looked OK to me colour-wise  The fall-back would have been Lifecolor's Olive Drab Dark Shade.  I added 10% AK Washable Agent to help with chipping and thinned with about 40% Ultimate thinner.  It appeared that the pigments separated a bit in the cup, but if that was the case they re-combined in the nozzle.  That mix worked for me with the 0.5mm needle and covered well with multiple passes in a single sitting.  I didn't have a buff Hataka shade for counter-shading and didn't want to risk cross-branding so I mixed up about 50:50 with Hataka's Khaki Green No3 and used this to lighten panel centres and other areas, using vertical motions on the vertical sides.  It may be a tad light just now but it will darken with washes.  The stowage block shows the colour difference as I sprayed it over with the lighter colour.

 

The white star is an Archer dry transfer, and I'm looking for other markings to apply before washing etc.  By the time Tortoise came along the use of side stars had been discontinued on UK AFV, as had disruptive painting.  I'm assuming that in my Panzer 46/47 scenario the same would apply.  Top stars were to be as large as the surface allowed, point forward.

 

I'm thinking a winter scheme.  According to Starmer, there was no authorised British winter scheme, although overall white painting was specifically forbidden.  White patterns were used in the winter of 44-45, and the camouflage manuals showed how to make slaked lime and limewash for his purpose.  So I'm seeing white stripes, and I have some of the AK washable white paint.  In reality this would have been fairly roughly applied by brush or even with rags and would not have lasted well, and that's what I want to try to simulate.  Without it just looking badly painted: fine line.

 

qmqwJXx.jpg

 

baf1EvL.jpg

 

y6T0pHb.jpg

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Etienne    641
6 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

I took a bit of a risk with the main colour coat, because I tried Hataka paint for the 1st time.  It's fair to say these have received very mixed reviews on this and other forum sites, but I didn't have any more trouble than I do with any other paint brand.  Yes, I needed an airbrush with a 0.5mm needle, having tried a 0.3mm which didn't work.  But what's the problem with that: it's a big beast to cover.  A lot of paint and airbrush reviews come across to me as saying, in effect, that any paint or airbrush is practically useless if you can't cover acres with a 0.2mm needle at gnat's breath PSI in a single pass.  Maybe I misinterpreted.

 

Hello,

 

you can the same reviews about every paint I guess ... many users are disappointed with paint that doesn't spray prefectly at "first sight" :huh: ... some paints are probably easier to spray, but for the time being, with a little patience and fiddling, I've been able to spray everything but not with a .2 needle of course ;)

 

Very nice beast ... let's see the next steps !

 

E

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Das Abteilung    187

Marked up an an SPG rather than a tank, which I think is appropriate for an assault gun.  The 6 prototypes don't ever seem to have carried serials, if any were allocated, just their P number 1 - 6: some had names too.  In my alternative world 79th Armd Div has retained its role as a breakthrough assault division and this vehicle carries that division's markings and AOS for Gun 2 of A Troop of a divisional artillery unit.  A big-gun Tortoise seems likely to be an asset that would be held under direct divisional control, like heavy artillery, to be concentrated at specific points and not used as general brigade support like field artillery.

 

Markings are a mixture of waterslide and rub-down.  Try as I might I could not get the Archer rub down serials to adhere and ended up putting them onto clear decal film, which is odd as the star went on well.  The Verlinden dry RA tac signs lost a couple of nibbles around the edges but I think this will be lost under finishing.  Gun barrel name is hand written with a white pen and the black barrel band is coloured decal film.  I discovered that Micro Sol seems to soften this paint, possibly because of the washable agent content.

 

pSEEJ5w.jpg

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Das Abteilung    187

Got some chipping and wear done.  Doesn't show as much against the green.  I don't know if it was a factor of the hairspray undercoat, the Hataka paint composition or the AK washable medium - too many variables - but the paint came off a little too easily once wetted, and tended to peel off rather than wear through.  So some of the wear ares are a little larger and harder-edged than I might have wanted.  We'll see what they look like under washes, and there will be the white camo - also to be worn.  

 

I took the MG and cannon barrels back to the blackened brass with the smallest of the Tamiya pointed cotton buds, used damp. Although I see that the MG barrels need a bit more work. I also used some for these fine cotton buds for some of the wear, in conjunction with dampened cocktail sticks.  In fact those 2 tools and a wet brush were all I used: it was clear that stiff brush scrubbing would be too aggressive on this finish.

 

RiIAWCO.jpg

 

u5mCmPR.jpg

 

emE4JS5.jpg

 

IBX5qts.jpg

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Bullbasket    1,980

Not normally a fan of Whatif's, but that is an impressive beast. The camnet idea is a good one as well.

 

John.

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Das Abteilung    187

Likewise on the what-ifs: this one crept up and mugged me after doing the E-10 and E-25 - basically just because I liked their shapes (!!).  I see P1 at Bovington every couple of weeks and I've seen a few "in service" models complete with the "unarmoured" warning triangle. And for me there is the lingering question of whether the 32pdr was the right weapon for what was essentially an assault gun - or even for a tank destroyer.  Compared to Russian and German late war developments it is relatively puny, barely comparable to the long barrel 88.

 

Actually the camnet idea is an old one, really old: 30 years or more.  Before anyone started making AM nets (was Verlinden 1st?).  But it's dirt cheap, very simple and very adaptable.  Where it falls down is more elaborate garnish like the current UK nets or hessian garnish.  I have thought of trying mixing strips of tissue or thin paper with the glue soak for that, but haven't been brave enough to try it.  Some of the AM nets look more like scrambling nets in thickness, whereas this plaster scrim is quite thin and it falls really nicely. Etched brass cam nets just seem completely berserk to me.

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Das Abteilung    187

I think I've decided to give up on the idea of a winter finish.  I've never done one before and, frankly, don't want to risk cocking it up.  The plan was to work on the green first, and then apply the white and work on that: much as in real life.  However I'm so pleased with the green that I don't want to cover it up and start the process again.  Maybe I should have been more conventional and applied the white before beginning fading etc.

 

Since the last post, Mrs Tortoise has had an overall wash with Wilder Dark Brown Filter for green finishes, NL18.  Wilder filters are a bit more densely pigmented than MiG's, perhaps closer to a wash.  I toyed with the companion Grey-Brown Filter for olive, NL19, but it looked a bit too grey and British olive SCC15 was notably green.  Once dry for a couple of days that was followed by a pin wash with AK Interactive Dark Brown Wash for green, AK045.  Yes, cheating with a pre-mixed wash.  Hush my mouth with such heresy..........!

 

Then followed a bit of subtle fading and streaking with a few shades of green and buff oil paint and MiG's rainmarks.  I used Abteilung's matt effect thinner where I needed thinner: I like it because it does minimise sheen and tidemarks.  I'm not sure the camera has captured the subtlety fully. Tonight, a spray over with matt varnish.  I bought a rattle can of Mr Hobby Top Coat Matt/Flat varnish and thought I'd be lazy and use that.  Seems to work OK, and it's dealt with the few wash tidemarks.  That will protect the finish while I detail paint and add final weathering, which will include oil & grease, some minor rust, dust and dirt and final drybrushing.  

 

And then there are the tracks, of which I've made up both top runs so far. The links don't clip or pivot, and so need to be glued up in exactly the right shape.  I'm planning 4 pieces per side: top, bottom, sprocket end and idler end.  Which must of course meet precisely.

 

Anyway, here are some shots of this stage of progress.  All comments, pointers, ideas - and yes, criticisms - gratefully received.  I'll only get better if you tell me what's not so good.

 

0H0xfZd.jpg

 

A9Nefmp.jpg

 

NJMS3OQ.jpg

 

GNFivlR.jpg

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