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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the 1960s Le Mans-winning racing car.


ManufacturerFord Advanced Vehicles
John Wyer Automotive Engineering
Kar Kraft
Shelby American

107 produced

AssemblySlough, UK (Mk I, Mk II, and Mk III)
Wixom, Michigan, USA (Mk IV)
Body and chassis
ClassGroup 4 Sports Car
Group 6 Sports Prototype
Body style couple


Engine4181 cc (255 CID) V-8
4737 cc (289 CID) V-8
6997 cc (427 CID) V-8
4942 cc (302 CID) V-8
Transmission4-speed manual


Wheelbase95 in (2,413 mm)[2]
Length160 in (4,064 mm)
Width70 in (1,778 mm)
Height40.5 in (1,029 mm)
Curb weight2,002 lb (908 kg)
SuccessorFord P68 and Ford GT

Henry Ford II along with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon celebrates the first victory for an American manufacturer at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the podium in 1966.

Ford GT40 Mk II front. This car took second place overall (all three top finishers were Ford GT40s) in the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona. The #1 car was driven by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby, and together with the #2 car driven by Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon (1st overall) and #5 car drove by Bucknum/Hutcherson (3rd overall) gave Ford its first victory in a 24-hour race. The photo shows the livery as used at Le Mans in 1966. (Serial Number GT-40 P 1015 Mk. II)

The Ford GT40 is a high-performance American-British endurance racing car, designed and built in England (Mk I, Mk II, and Mk III) and in the United States (Mk IV), and powered by a series of American-built engines.

The GT40 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969 (1966 being the Mk II, 1967 the Mk IV, and 1968-1969 the oldest chassis design, the Mk I), including a 1-2-3 finish in 1966.

In 1966, with Henry Ford II himself in attendance at Le Mans, the Mk II GT40 provided Ford with the first overall Le Mans victory for an American manufacturer and the first victory for an American manufacturer at a major European race since Jimmy Murphy´s triumph with Duesenberg at the 1921 French Grand Prix.

The Mk IV GT40 that won Le Mans in 1967 is the only car designed and built entirely in the United States to achieve the overall win at Le Mans.

The GT40 was originally produced to win long-distance sports car races against Ferrari (who won at Le Mans six times in a row from 1960 to 1965). FORD/Shelby Chassis # P-1075, which won in 1968 and 1969, is the first car in Le Mans history to win the race more than once, with the same chassis.

Using an American Ford V-8 engine originally of 4.7-litre displacement capacity (289 cubic inches). It was later enlarged to the 4.9-litre engine (302 cubic inches), with custom-designed alloy Gurney-Weslake cylinder heads.

The car was named the GT (for Grand Touring) with the 40 representing its overall height of 40 inches (1.02 m, measured at the windshield) as required by the rules. Large displacement Ford V8 engines (4.2 litres, 4.7 litres and 7 litres) were used, compared with the Ferrari V12 which displaced 3.0 litres or 4.0 litres.

Early cars were simply named "Ford GT". The name "GT40" was the name of Ford’s project to prepare the cars for the international endurance racing circuit, and the quest to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The first 12 "prototype" vehicles carried serial numbers GT-101 through GT-112. The "production" began and the subsequent cars—the MkI, MkII, MkIII, and MkV (with the exception of the MkIV, which were numbered J1-J12)—were numbered GT40P/1000 through GT40P/1145, and thus officially "GT40s". The name of Ford’s project and the serial numbers dispel the story that "GT40" was "only a nickname."

The contemporary Ford GT is a modern homage to the GT40.


Henry Ford II had wanted a Ford at Le Mans since the early 1960s.

In the spring of 1963, Ford reportedly received word through a European intermediary that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling to Ford Motor Company. Ford reportedly spent several million dollars in an audit of Ferrari factory assets and in legal negotiations, only to have Ferrari unilaterally cut off talks at a late stage due to disputes about the ability to directly open-wheel racing.

Ferrari, who wanted to remain the sole operator of his company’s motorsports division, was angered when he was told that he would not be allowed to race at the Indianapolis 500 if the deal went through since Ford fielded Indy cars using the company’s engine, and didn’t want competition from Ferrari. Enzo cut the deal off out of spite and Henry Ford II, enraged, directed his racing division to find a company that could build a Ferrari-beater on the world endurance-racing circuit.

To this end, Ford began negotiation with Lotus, Lola, and Cooper. Cooper had no experience in GT or prototype and its performances in Formula One were declining.

Lotus was already a Ford partner for their Indy 500 project, but Ford executives doubted the ability of Lotus to handle this new project. Colin Chapman probably had similar views as he asked a high price for his contribution and insisted that the car (which became the Lotus Europa) should be named a Lotus-Ford.


The Lola proposal was chosen since Lola had used a Ford V8 engine in their mid-engined Lola Mk6 (also known as Lola GT). It was one of the most advanced racing cars of the time, and made a noted performance in Le Mans 1963, even though the car did not finish, due to low gearing and slow revving out on the Mulsanne Straight.

However, Eric Broadley, Lola Cars’ owner and chief designer, agreed on a short-term personal contribution to the project without involving Lola Cars.

The agreement with Broadley included a one-year collaboration between Ford and Broadley, and the sale of the two Lola Mk 6 chassis builds to Ford. To form the development team, Ford also hired the ex-Aston Martin team manager John Wyer. Ford Motor Co. engineer Roy Lunn was sent to England; he had designed the mid-engined Mustang I concept car powered by a 1.7 litre V4. Despite the small engine of the Mustang I, Lunn was the only Dearborn engineer to have some experience with a mid-engined car.

Overseen by Harley Copp, the team of Broadley, Lunn and Wyer began working on the new car at the Lola Factory in Bromley. At the end of 1963, the team moved to Slough, near Heathrow airport. Ford then established Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd, a new subsidiary under the direction of Wyer, to manage the project.

The first chassis built by Abbey Panels of Coventry was delivered on March 16, 1963, with fibre-glass mouldings produced by Fibre Glass Engineering Ltd of Farnham.[7] The first "Ford GT" the GT/101 was unveiled in England on April 1 and soon after exhibited in New York. Purchase price of the completed car for competition use was £5,200.

It was powered by the 4.2 L Fairlane engine with a Colotti transaxle, the same power plant was used by the Lola GT and the single-seater Lotus 29 that came in a highly controversial second at the Indy 500 in 1963. (An aluminium block DOHC version, known as the Ford Indy Engine, was used in later years at Indy. It won in 1965 in the Lotus 38.)


The Ford GT40 was first raced in May 1964 at the Nürburgring 1000 km race where it retired with suspension failure after holding second place early in the event.

Three weeks later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, all three entries retired although the Ginther/Gregory car led the field from the second lap until its first pitstop. After a season-long series of dismal results under John Wyer in 1964, the program was handed over to Carroll Shelby after the 1964 Nassau race.

The cars were sent directly to Shelby, still bearing the dirt and damage from the Nassau race. Carroll Shelby was noted for complaining that the cars were poorly maintained when he received them, but later information revealed the cars were packed up as soon as the race was over, and FAV never had a chance to clean and organize the cars to be transported to Shelby.

Shelby’s first victory came on their maiden race with the Ford program, with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby taking a Shelby American-entered Ford GT to victory in the Daytona 2000 in February 1965. The rest of the season, however, was a disaster.

The experience gained in 1964 and 1965 allowed the 7-litre Mk II to dominate the following year. In February, the GT40 again won at Daytona. This was the first year Daytona was run in the 24 Hour format and Mk II’s finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

In March, at the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring, GT40’s again took all three top finishes with the X-1 Roadster first, an Mk. II taking second, and an Mk. I in third. Then in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the GT40 achieved yet another 1-2-3 result.

The Le Mans finish, however, was clouded in controversy: in the final few hours, the Ford GT of New Zealanders Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon closely trailed the leading Ford GT driven by Englishman Ken Miles and New Zealander Denny Hulme.

With a multimillion-dollar program finally on the very brink of success, Ford team officials faced a difficult choice. They could allow the drivers to settle the outcome by racing each other – and risk one or both cars breaking down or crashing. They could dictate a finishing order to the drivers – guaranteeing that one set of drivers would be extremely unhappy. Or they could arrange a tie, with the McLaren/Amon and Miles/Hulme cars crossing the line side-by-side.

The team chose the last and informed McLaren and Miles of the decision just before the two got in their cars for the final stint.

Then, not long before the finish, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizers of the Le Mans event, informed Ford that the geographical difference in starting positions would be taken into account at a close finish – meaning that the McLaren/Amon vehicle, which had started perhaps 60 feet (18 m) behind the Hulme-Miles car, would have covered slightly more ground over the 24 hours and would, therefore, be the winner.

Secondly, Ford officials admitted later, the company’s contentious relationship with Miles, its top contract driver, placed executives in a difficult position. They could reward an outstanding driver who had been at times extremely difficult to work with, or they could decide in favour of drivers (McLaren/Amon) with less commitment to the Ford program but who had been easier to deal with.

Ford stuck with the orchestrated photo finish but Miles, deeply bitter over this decision after his dedication to the program, issued his own protest by suddenly slowing just yards from the finish and letting McLaren across the line first. Miles died in a testing accident in the J-car (later to become the Mk IV) at Riverside (CA) Raceway just two months later.

Miles’ death occurred at the wheel of the Ford "J-car", an iteration of the GT40 that included several unique features. These included an aluminium honeycomb chassis construction and a "bread van" body design that experimented with "comeback" aerodynamic theories.

Unfortunately, the fatal Miles accident was attributed at least partly to the unproven aerodynamics of the J-car design, as well as the experimental chassis’ strength. The team embarked on a complete redesign of the car, which became known as the Mk IV.

The Mk IV, newer design with an Mk II engine but a different chassis and a different body, won the following year at Le Mans (when four Mark IVs, three Mark IIs and three Mark Is raced). The high speeds achieved in that race caused a rule change, which already came in effect in 1968: the prototypes were limited to the capacity of to 3.0 litre, the same as in Formula One. This took out the V12-powered Ferrari 330P as well as the Chaparral and the Mk. IV.

If at least 50 cars had been built, sportscars like the GT40 and the Lola T70 were allowed, with a maximum of 5.0 L. John Wyer’s revised 4.7 litres (bored to 4.9 litres, and o-rings cut and installed between the deck and head to prevent head gasket failure, a common problem found with the 4.7 engine) Mk I.

It won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1968 against the fragile smaller prototypes. This result, added to four other round wins for the GT40, gave Ford victory in the 1968 International Championship for Makes.

The GT40’s intended 3.0 L replacement, the Ford P68, and Mirage cars proved a dismal failure. While facing more experienced prototypes and the new yet still unreliable 4.5 L flat-12 powered Porsche 917s, the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Jacky Ickx/Jackie Oliver managed to beat the remaining 3.0 litre Porsche 908 by just a few seconds with the already outdated GT40 Mk I (in the very car that had won in 1968 – the legendary GT40P/1075).

Apart from brake wear in the Porsche and the decision not to change pads so close to the race end, the winning combination was relaxed driving by both GT40 drivers and heroic efforts at the right time by (at that time Le Mans’ rookie) Ickx, who won Le Mans five more times in later years. In 1970, the revised Porsche 917 dominated, and the GT40 had become obsolete.


In addition to four consecutive overall Le Mans victories, Ford also won the following four FIA international titles (at what was then unofficially known as the World Sportscar Championship) with the GT40:

1966 International Manufacturers Championship – Over 2000cc
1966 International Championship for Sports Cars – Division III (Over 2000cc)
1967 International Championship for Sports Cars – Division III (Over 2000cc)
1968 International Championship for Makes


The Mk I was the original Ford GT40. Early prototypes were powered by 4.2 litres (255 alloy V8 engines and production models were powered by 4.7 litres (289 engines as used in the Ford Mustang. Five prototype models were built with roadster bodywork, including the Ford X-1.

MK. I was modified and run by John Wyer in 1968 and 1969, winning Le Mans in both those years and Sebring in 1969. The Mk.II and IV were both obsolete after the FIA had changed the rules to ban unlimited capacity engines; but the Mk.I, with its smaller engine, was legally able to race.


The X-1 was a roadster built to contest the Fall 1965 North American Pro Series, a forerunner of Can-Am, entered by the Bruce McLaren team and driven by Chris Amon. The car had an aluminium chassis built at Abbey Panels and was originally powered by a 4.7 litre (289ci) engine. The real purpose of this car was to test several improvements originating from Kar Kraft, Shelby and McLaren. Several gearboxes were used: a Hewland LG500 and at least one automatic gearbox. It was later upgraded to Mk II specifications with a 7.0 litre (427ci) engine and a standard four ratio Kar Kraft (subsidiary of Ford) gearbox, however, the car kept specific features such as its open roof and lightweight aluminium chassis. The car went on to win the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1966. The X-1 was a one-off and was later ordered to be destroyed by customs officials.


The Mk.II was very similar in appearance to the Mk.I, but it actually was a bit different from its predecessor. It used the 7.0 litre FE (427 ci) engine from the Ford Galaxie, which was an engine used in NASCAR at the time—but the engine was modified for road course use. The car’s chassis was more or less the same as the British-built Mk. I chassis, but it and other parts of the car had to be re-designed and modified by Carroll Shelby’s organization in order to accommodate the larger and heavier 427 engine. A new Kar Kraft-built 4 speed gearbox (same as the one described above; Ford-designed, using Galaxie gearsets) was built to handle the more powerful engine, replacing the ZF 5-speed used in the Mk.I. This car is sometimes referred to as the Ford Mk.II.

In 1966, the Mk.II began dominating the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. In 1966 the Mk.II took Europe by surprise and beat Ferrari to finish 1-2-3 in the standings. Ford GT40’s went on to win the race for four consecutive years (1966-1969).

For 1967, the Mk.II’s were upgraded to "B" spec; they had re-designed bodywork and twin carburettors for an additional 15 hp. A batch of wrongly heat treated input shafts in the transaxles sidelined virtually every Ford in the race at Daytona, however, and Ferrari won 1-2-3. The Mk.IIB’s were also used for Sebring and Le Mans that year, and also it won the Reims 12 Hours in France. For the Daytona 24 Hours, two Mk II models (chassis 1016 and 1047) had their engines re-badged as Mercury engines. Mercury was a Ford Motor Company division at that time, and Mercury’s 427 was exactly the same engine as Ford’s with different logos. Ford saw a good opportunity to advertise that division of the company.


The Mk III was a road-car only, of which 7 were built. The car had four headlamps, the rear part of the body was expanded to make room for luggage, the 4.7-litre engine was detuned to 335 bhp (250 kW), the shock absorbers were softened, the shift lever was moved to the centre and the car was available with the steering wheel on the left side of the car. As the Mk III looked significantly different from the racing models many customers interested in buying a GT40 for road use chose to buy an Mk I that was available from Wyer Ltd. Of the 7 MK III that was produced 4 were left-hand drive. One of these examples is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum.


1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV, which was developed from the J-car. This particular car, J-4, won the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring.
In an effort to develop a car with better aerodynamics and lighter weight, it was decided to retain the 7-litre engine, but redesign the rest of the car and ditch the Mk.I/Mk.II chassis. In order to bring the car more "in house" and lessening partnership with English firms, Ford Advanced Vehicles was sold to John Wyer and the new car was designed by Ford’s studios and produced by Ford’s subsidiary Kar Kraft under Ed Hull. There was also a partnership with the Brunswick Aircraft Corporation for expertise on the novel use of honeycomb aluminium panels bonded together to form a lightweight but rigid "tub". The car was designated as the J-car, as it was constructed to meet the new Appendix J regulations which were introduced by the FIA in 1966.

The first J-car was completed in March 1966 and set the fastest time at the Le Mans trials that year. The tub weighed only 86 lb (39 kg), and the entire car weighed only 2,660 lb (1,210 kg), 300 lb (140 kg) less than the Mk II. It was decided to run the MkIIs due to their proven reliability, however, and little or no development was done on the J-car for the rest of the season.

Following Le Mans, the development program for the J-car was resumed, and a second car was built. During a test session at Riverside International Raceway in August 1966, with Ken Miles driving, the car suddenly went out of control at the end of Riverside’s high-speed, 1-mile-long back straight. The honeycomb chassis did not live up to its design goal, shattering upon impact, bursting into flames and killing Miles. It was determined that the unique, flat-topped "bread van" aerodynamics of the car, lacking any sort of spoiler, were implicated in generating excess lift. Therefore, a more conventional but significantly more aerodynamic body was designed for the subsequent development of the J-car which was officially known as the GT40 Mk IV. A total of nine cars were constructed with J-car chassis numbers although six were designated as Mk IVs and one as the G7A.


The Mk IV was built around a reinforced J chassis powered by the same 7.0 L engine as the Mk II. Excluding the engine, gearbox, some suspension parts and the brakes from the Mk.II, the Mk.IV was totally different from other GT40s, using a specific chassis and specific bodywork.

It was undoubtedly the most radical and American variant of all the GT40’s over the years. As a direct result of the Miles accident, the team installed a NASCAR-style steel-tube roll cage in the Mk.IV, which made it much safer, but the roll cage was so heavy that it negated most of the weight saving of the then-highly advanced, radically innovative honeycomb-panel construction.

The Mk. IV had a long, streamlined shape, which gave it exceptional top speed, crucial to do well at Le Mans in those days (a circuit made up almost entirely of straights)- the race it was ultimately built for. A 2-speed automatic gearbox was tried, but during the extensive testing of the J-car in 1966 and 1967, it was decided that the 4-speed from the Mk.II would be retained. Dan Gurney often complained about the weight of the Mk.IV, since the car was 600 pounds (270 kg) heavier than the Ferrari 330 P4’s. During practice at Le Mans in 1967, in an effort to preserve the highly stressed brakes, Gurney developed a strategy (also adopted by co-driver A.J. Foyt) of backing completely off the throttle several hundred yards before the approach to the Mulsanne hairpin and virtually coasting into the braking area. This technique saved the brakes, but the resulting increase in the car’s recorded lap times during practice led to speculation within the Ford team that Gurney and Foyt, in an effort to compromise on chassis settings, had hopelessly "dialled out" their car. The car proved to be fastest in a straight line that year thanks to its streamlined aerodynamics- it did 212 mph on the 3.6 mile Mulsanne Straight.

The Mk. IV ran in only two races, the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans and won both events. Only one Mk.IV was completed for Sebring; the pressure from Ford had been amped up considerably after Ford’s humiliation at Daytona 2 months earlier. Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren won Sebring, Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt won Le Mans (Gurney and Foyt’s car was the Mk.IV that was apparently least likely to win), where the Ford-representing Shelby-American and Holman & Moody teams showed up to Le Mans with 2 Mk.IV’s each.

The installation of the roll cage was ultimately credited by many with saving the life of Andretti, who crashed violently at the Esses during the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours but escaped with minor injuries. Unlike the earlier Mk.I – III cars, which were built in England, the Mk.IVs were built in America by Kar Kraft. Le Mans 1967 remains the only truly all-American victory in Le Mans history – American drivers, team, chassis, engine and tires. A total of 6 Mk IVs were constructed. One of the Mk IVs was rebuilt to the Ford G7 in 1968, and used in the Can-Am series for 1969 and 1970, but with no success. This car is sometimes referred to as the Ford Mk.IV.


Peter Thorp had searched years looking for a GT40 in good condition. Most of the cars had problems including the dreaded rust issue. His company, Safir Engineering, was building and fielding Formula 3 race cars, in addition, had a Token Formula

One car purchased from the Ron Dennis Company, Rondell Racing. Formula One events in which Safir Engineering competed included Brands Hatch and Silverstone. Safir was also redesigning Range Rovers modifying the unit to six-wheel drive and exporting them to foreign markets. Safir technical capabilities were such that they could rebuild GT40s. It was with this in mind that Thorp approached John Willment for his thoughts. Wilment was of the same mindset, and discussions between the two were positive. It was soon decided that there would be a limited, further run of the significant GT40. JW Engineering would oversee the build, and Safir was to do the work. The continued JW Engineering/Safir Engineering production would utilize sequential serial numbers starting at the last used GT40 serial number and move forward. Maintaining the GT40 Mark nomenclature, this continued production would be named GT40 MkV. These cars would carry JW Engineering chassis plates identical to those on all the GT40s produced by JW Engineering.

JW Engineering wished to complete the GT40 chassis numbers GT40P-1087, 1088 and 1089. This was supposed to take place prior to the beginning of Safir production, however, the completion of these three chassis’ was very much delayed.

Ford’s Len Bailey was hired to inspect the proposed build and engineer any changes he thought prudent to ensure the car was safe, as well as minimize problems experienced in the past. Baily changed the front suspension to Alan Mann specifications, which minimized nose-dive under braking. Zinc coated steel replaced the previous uncoated rust-prone sheet metal. The vulnerable drive doughnuts were replaced with CV joints and the leak-prone rubber gas tanks were replaced with aluminium tanks. The GT40 chassis was upgraded without making any major changes.

Tennant Panels supplied the roof structure and the balance of the chassis was completed by Safir. JW Engineering employees were used where ever possible. Bill Pink, noted for his electrical experience and the wiring installation of previous GT40 automobiles, was brought in. Also, Jim Rose was hired for his experience with working at both Alan Mann and Shelby. After the manufacture of chassis 1120, John Etheridge of JW Engineering was hired to manage the GT40 build. The chassis was supplied from Adams McCall Engineering and parts supplied from Tennant panels. For the most part, the MkV resembled very closely the MkI car, although there were a few changes, and, as with the 60s production, very few cars were identical.

The first car, GT40P-1090, had an open-top in place of roofed doors. Most motors were Ford small block, Webers or 4 Barrel Carburetor. Safir produced five Big Block GT40s, serial numbers GT40P-1128 to GT40P-1132. These aluminium big block cars all had easily removable door roof sections. Most GT40s were high-performance street cars however some of the MkV production can be described as a full race. Two road cars GT40P-1133 (roadster) and GT40P-1142 (roofed doors) were built as lightweights which included an aluminium honeycomb chassis and carbon fibre bodywork. Complete files on each of these forty cars have been forwarded to authors and journalists known for maintaining accurate records on the GT40 automobile.


A "Roaring Forties" replica of a 1965 Ford GT40 in Shelby livery on display at the 2005 United States Grand Prix
Several kit cars and replicas inspired by the Ford GT40 have been built. They are generally intended for assembly by the enthusiast in a home workshop or garage. There are two alternatives to the kit car approach, either continuation models (exact and licensed replicas true to the original GT40), or modernizations (replicas with upgraded components, ergonomics & trim for improved usability, drivability and performance).

GT40/R Competition, United States: Authentic GT40 built by Superformance and co-designed with Pathfinder Motorsports. A GT40/R (GT40P/2094) campaigned by Pathfinder Motorsports with an engine built by Holman Moody won both the 2009 US Vintage Grand Prix and the 2009 Governor’s Cup at Watkins Glen.[15]
CAV GT: Originally designed for customers to build as a kit, the CAV GT has evolved into a modernized replica that is now factory-built in Cape Town, South Africa.
Holman Moody: GT40 Mark II won third at Le Mans in 1966, and can still manufacture a Holman GT from 1966 blueprints.

GT40 Spyder, United States: Built by E.R.A. Replica Automobiles in New Britain, CT, the Spyder is an MK2 Canadian American (CAN-AM) racing replica.[16]
Ford GT[edit]

2005 Ford GT
Main article: Ford GT
At the 1995 Detroit Auto Show, the Ford GT90 concept was shown and at the 2002 show, a new GT40 Concept was unveiled by Ford.

While similar in appearance to the original cars, it was bigger, wider, and three inches taller than the original 40 inches (1.02 m). Three production prototype cars were shown in 2003 as part of Ford’s centenary, and delivery of the production Ford GT began in the fall of 2004. The Ford GT was assembled in the Ford Wixom plant and painted by Saleen, Incorporated at their Saleen Special Vehicles plant in Troy, Michigan, USA.

A British company, Safir Engineering, who continued to produce a limited number of GT40s (the MkV) in the 1980s under an agreement with Walter Hayes of Ford and John Wilment of J.W. Automotive Engineering, owned the GT40 trademark at that time, and when they completed production, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small American company called Safir GT40 Spares, Limited based in Ohio. Safir GT40 Spares licensed the use of the GT40 trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car, but when Ford decided to make the production vehicle, negotiations between the two failed, and as a result, the new Ford GT does not wear the badge GT40. Bob Wood, one of three partners who own Safir GT40 Spares, said: "When we talked with Ford, they asked what we wanted. We said that Ford owns Beanstalk in New York, the company that licenses the Blue Oval for Ford on such things as T-shirts. Since Beanstalk gets 7.5 per cent of the retail cost of the item for licensing the name, we suggested 7.5 per cent on each GT40 sold."[17] In this instance, Ford wished to purchase, not just license the GT40 trademark. At the then-estimated 5,000 per copy, 7.5% of 4,500 vehicles would have totalled approximately ,187,500.[17] It was widely and erroneously reported following an Automotive News Weekly story that Safir "demanded" the million for the sale of the trademark. Discussions between Safir and Ford ensued. However, in fact, the Ford Motor Company never made an offer in writing to purchase the famed GT40 trademark. Later models or prototypes have also been called the Ford GT but have had different numbering on them such as the Ford GT90 or the Ford GT70. The GT40 name and trademark are currently licensed to Superformance in the USA.

A second-generation Ford GT was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. It features a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 engine, carbon fibre monocoque and body panels, pushrod suspension and active aerodynamics. It will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the United SportsCar Championship.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Yellow Northrop N1M flying wing airplane, in front of Northrop P-61C Black Widow and tail of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay”, et al
weight lifting program
Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy | Northrop N1M:

John K. "Jack" Northrop’s dream of a flying wing became a reality on July 3, 1940, when his N-1M (Northrop Model 1 Mockup) first flew. One of the world’s preeminent aircraft designers and creator of the Lockheed Vega and Northrop Alpha, Northrop had experimented with flying wings for over a decade, believing they would have less drag and greater efficiency than conventional designs. His 1929 flying wing, while successful, had twin tail booms and a conventional tail. In the N-1M he created a true flying wing.

Built of plywood around a tubular steel frame, the N-1M was powered by two 65-horsepower Lycoming engines, later replaced with two 120-horsepower Franklins. While its flying characteristics were marginal, the N-1M led to other designs, including the Northrop XB-35 and YB-49 strategic bombers and ultimately the B-2 stealth bomber.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Northrop Aircraft Inc.


Country of Origin:
United States of America

Wingspan: 11.6 m (38 ft)
Length: 5.2 m (17 ft)
Height: 1.5 m (5 ft)
Weight, gross: 1,814 kg (4,000 lb)
Top speed: 322 km/h (200 mph)
Engine: 2 Franklin 6AC264F2, 120 hp
Overall: 72in. (182.9cm)
Other: 72 x 204 x 456in. (182.9 x 518.2 x 1158.2cm)

Overall: Plywood

Physical Description:
Twin engine flying wing: Wood, painted yellow.

Long Description:
The N-1M (Northrop Model 1 Mockup) Flying Wing was a natural outgrowth of John K. "Jack" Northrop’s lifelong concern for an aerodynamically clean design in which all unnecessary drag caused by protruding engine nacelles, fuselage, and vertical and horizontal tail surfaces would be eliminated. Developed in 1939 and 1940, the N-1lM was the first pure all-wing airplane to be produced in the United States. Its design was the forerunner of the larger all-wing XB-35 and YB-49 bomber! reconnaissance prototypes that Northrop hoped would win Air Force production contracts and eventually change the shape of modern aircraft.

After serving apprenticeships with the Lockheed brothers and Donald Douglas in the early 1920s and designing the highly successful and innovative Lockheed Vega in 1927, Northrop in the late 192Os turned his attention to all-wing aircraft. In 1928, he left the employ of Lockheed and organized the Avion Corporation; a year later he produced his first flying wing, which incorporated such innovative features as all-metal, multicellular wing and stressed-skin construction. Although the 1929 flying wing was not a true all-wing design because it made use of external control surfaces and outrigger tail booms, it paved the way for the later N-1 M, which proved the basic soundness of Northrop’s idea for an all-wing aircraft. At the time, however, Northrop did not have the money to continue developing the all-wing idea.

In 1939, Northrop formed his own aircraft company, Northrop Aircraft, Inc., and as a result was in a position to finance research and development of the N-1M. For assistance in designing the aircraft, Northrop enlisted the not aerodynamicist Dr. Theodore von Karman, who was at the time Director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute Technology, and von Karman’s assistant, Dr. William R. Sears. Walter J. Cerny, Northrop’s assistant design chief, became the overall supervisor for the project. To determine the flight characteristics of an all-wing design, Northrop Cerny conducted extensive wind tunnel tests or flying wing models. Ultimately, the design of the N-1 M benefited from the new low-drag, increase stability NACA airfoils as well as improved flaps spoilers, and other aerodynamic devices.

After a period of a year, the N-1M, nicknamed the "Jeep," emerged in July 1940 as a boomerang-shaped flying scale mockup built 01 wood and tubular steel with a wingspan of 38 feet a length of 17 feet, and a height of 5 feet. Pitch and roll control was accomplished by means of elevons on the trailing edge of the wing, which served the function of both elevator and aileron the place of the conventional rudder was a split flap device on the wing tips; these were originally drooped downward for what was thought to be better directional stability but later straightened.

Controlled by rudder pedals, the split flaps, or "clamshells," could be opened to increase the angle of glide or reduce airspeed and thus act as air brakes. The center of gravity, wing sweep, arrangement of control surfaces, and dihedral were adjustable on the ground. To decrease drag, the aircraft’s two 65-hp Lycoming 0-145 four-cylinder engines were buried within the fuselage. These were later discovered to be lacking in sufficient power to sustain lift and were replaced by two 120-hp six-cylinder 6AC264F2 air-cooled Franklin engines.

The N-1M made its first test flight on July 3, 1940, at Baker Dry Lake, California, with Vance Breese at the controls. Breese’s inaugural flight in the N-1 M was inauspicious. During a high-speed taxi run, the aircraft hit a rough spot in the dry lake bed, bounced into the air and accidentally became airborne for a few hundred yards. In the initial stages of flight testing, Breese reported that the aircraft could fly no higher than 5 feet off the ground and that flight could only be sustained by maintaining a precise angle of attack. Von Karman was called in and he solved the problem by making adjustments to the trailing edges of the elevons.

When Vance Breese left the N-1 M program to test-fly the North American B-25, Moye Stephens, the Northrop company secretary, took over testing of the aircraft. By November 1941, after having made some 28 flights, Stephens reported that when attempting to move the N-1M about its vertical axis, the aircraft had a tendency to oscillate in what is called a Dutch roll. That is, the aircraft’s wings alternately rose and fell tracing a circular path in a plane that lies between the horizontal and the vertical. Although Stephens was fearful that the oscillations might not be controllable, he found that adjustments to the aircraft’s configuration cleared up the problem. In May 1942, Stephens was replaced by John Myers, who served as test pilot on the project for approximately six months.

Although the exact period of flight testing for the N-1M is difficult to determine because both Northrop and Army Air Forces records have been lost, we do know that after its initial test flight at Baker Dry Lake, the aircraft was flown at Muroc and Rosamond Dry Lake, and at Hawthorne, California, and that late in the testing program (probably after January 1943) it was towed by a C-47 from Muroc to Hawthorne on its last flight with Myers as the pilot.

From its inception, the N-1M was plagued by poor performance because it was both overweight and chronically underpowered. Despite these problems, Northrop convinced General H. H. Hap" Arnold that the N-1 M was successful enough to serve as the forerunner of more advanced flying wing concepts, and the aircraft did form the basis for Northrop’s subsequent development of the N-M9 and of the larger and longer-ranged XB-35 and YB-49 flying wings.

In 1945, Northrop turned the N-1M over to the Army Air Forces in the hope that it would someday be placed on exhibit. On July 12, 1946, the aircraft was delivered to Freeman Field, Indiana. A little over a month later, the N-1M was given to the National Air Museum and placed in storage at Park Ridge, Illinois. On May 1,1949, the aircraft was placed in the Museum’s collection, and a few years later moved in packing crates to the Museum’s Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland. In 1979, the restoration of the N-1M began, and by early 1983, some four decades after it had made its final flight, the aircraft had been returned to its original condition.

• • • • •

Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Northrop P-61C Black Widow:

The P-61 Black Widow was the first U.S. aircraft designed to locate and destroy enemy aircraft at night and in bad weather, a feat made possible by the use of on-board radar. The prototype first flew in 1942. P-61 combat operations began just after D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Black Widows flew deep into German airspace, bombing and strafing trains and road traffic. Operations in the Pacific began at about the same time. By the end of World War II, Black Widows had seen combat in every theater and had destroyed 127 enemy aircraft and 18 German V-1 buzz bombs.

The Museum’s Black Widow, a P-61C-1-NO, was delivered to the Army Air Forces in July 1945. It participated in cold-weather tests, high-altitude drop tests, and in the National Thunderstorm Project, for which the top turret was removed to make room for thunderstorm monitoring equipment.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Northrop Aircraft Inc.


Country of Origin:
United States of America

Overall: 450 x 1500cm, 10637kg, 2000cm (14ft 9 3/16in. x 49ft 2 9/16in., 23450.3lb., 65ft 7 3/8in.)

• • • • •

Quoting Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay":

Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments. Although designed to fight in the European theater, the B-29 found its niche on the other side of the globe. In the Pacific, B-29s delivered a variety of aerial weapons: conventional bombs, incendiary bombs, mines, and two nuclear weapons.

On August 6, 1945, this Martin-built B-29-45-MO dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, Bockscar (on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio) dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay flew as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. A third B-29, The Great Artiste, flew as an observation aircraft on both missions.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Boeing Aircraft Co.
Martin Co., Omaha, Nebr.


Country of Origin:
United States of America

Overall: 900 x 3020cm, 32580kg, 4300cm (29ft 6 5/16in. x 99ft 1in., 71825.9lb., 141ft 15/16in.)

Polished overall aluminum finish

Physical Description:
Four-engine heavy bomber with semi-monoqoque fuselage and high-aspect ratio wings. Polished aluminum finish overall, standard late-World War II Army Air Forces insignia on wings and aft fuselage and serial number on vertical fin; 509th Composite Group markings painted in black; "Enola Gay" in black, block letters on lower left nose.

Ground effect vehicle A-90 Orlyonok. Экраноплан “Орлёнок”
weight lifting program
Image by Peer.Gynt
A ground effect vehicle (GEV) is one that attains level flight near the surface of the Earth, made possible by a cushion of high-pressure air created by the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface known as ground effect. Also known as a wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) vehicle, flarecraft, sea skimmer, ekranoplan, or wing-in-surface-effect ship (WISE), a GEV can be seen as a transition between a hovercraft and an aircraft. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has classified the GEV as a ship.[1] A GEV differs from an aircraft in that it cannot operate without ground effect, so its operating height is limited relative to its wingspan.

In recent years a large number of different GEV types have evolved for both civilian and military use. However, these craft are not in wide use.
Small numbers of experimental vehicles were built in Scandinavia just before World War II. By the 1960s, the technology started to improve, in large part due to the independent contributions of Rostislav Alexeev in the Soviet Union[2] and German Alexander Lippisch, working in the United States. Alexeev worked from his background as a ship designer whereas Lippisch worked from his own background as an aeronautical engineer. The influence of Alexeev and Lippisch is still noticeable in most GEV vehicles seen today.

The Soviet Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau (CHDB), led by Alexeev, was the center of ground-effect craft development in the USSR; in Russian, the vehicle came to be known as an ekranoplan (Russian: экранопла́н, French: ecran "screen" + Russian: plan "plane", from эффект экрана effekt ekrana). The military potential for such a craft was soon recognised and Alexeev received support and financial resources from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Some manned and unmanned prototypes were built, ranging up to eight tons in displacement. This led to the development of the "Caspian Sea Monster", a 550-ton military ekranoplan.[3] Although it was designed to travel a maximum of 3 m (9.8 ft) above the sea, it was found to be most efficient at 20 m (66 ft), reaching a top speed of 300 kn (350 mph; 560 km/h) (400 kn (460 mph; 740 km/h) in research flight).

The Soviet ekranoplan program continued with the support of Minister of Defense Dmitri Ustinov. It produced the most successful ekranoplan so far, the 125-ton A-90 Orlyonok. These craft were originally developed as very high-speed military transports, and were based mostly on the shores of the Caspian Sea and Black Sea. The Soviet Navy ordered 120 Orlyonok-class ekranoplans. But this figure was later reduced to fewer than thirty vehicles, with planned deployment mainly in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea fleets.

A few Orlyonoks served with the Soviet Navy from 1979 to 1992. In 1987, the 400-ton Lun-class ekranoplan was built as a missile launcher. A second Lun, renamed Spasatel, was laid down as a rescue vessel, but was never finished.

Minister Ustinov died in 1985, and the new Minister of Defense, Marshal Sokolov, effectively stopped the funding for the program. Only three operational Orlyonok-class ekranoplans (with revised hull design) and one Lun-class ekranoplan remained at a naval base near Kaspiysk.

The two major problems that the Soviet ekranoplans faced were poor longitudinal stability and a need for reliable navigation.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, ekranoplans have been produced by the Volga Shipyard[4] in Nizhniy Novgorod.

GEV developed since the 1980s have been primarily smaller craft designed for the recreational and civilian ferry markets. Germany, Russia, and the United States have provided most of the momentum with some development in Australia, China, Japan, and Taiwan. In these countries, small craft up to ten seats have been designed and built. Other larger designs as ferries and heavy transports have been proposed, though none have gone on to further development.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, smaller ekranoplans for non-military use have been under development. The CHDB had already developed the eight-seat Volga-2 in 1985, and Technologies and Transport developed a smaller version by the name of Amphistar.

In Germany, Lippisch was asked to build a very fast boat for Mr. Collins from Collins Radio Company in the USA. He developed the X-112, a revolutionary design with reversed delta wing and T-tail. This design proved to be stable and efficient in ground effect and even though it was successfully tested, Collins decided to stop the project and sold the patents to a German company called Rhein Flugzeugbau (RFB) which further developed the model.

Tandem flarecraftHanno Fischer took over the works from RFB and created his own company called Fischer Flugmechanik. Their two-seat Airfisch 3 and their later model that seats 6 passengers have been a successful design. This craft, the FS-8, was to be produced by a Singapore-Australian joint venture called Flightship.[5] The company no longer exists, and the ship is out of production. An ongoing research project in collaboration with the university of Duisburg-Essen, involves the development of the Hoverwing.[6]

Günther Jörg in Germany, who had also been working on Alexeev’s first designs, and was familiar with the challenges of GEV design, developed a GEV with two wings in a tandem arrangement, the Jörg-II. It was the third, manned, tandem airfoil boat,named "Skimmerfoil", which was developed during his consultancy period in South Africa. It was a simple and low-cost design, but has not been produced to date. The consultancy of Dipl. Ing. Günther Jörg was founded with a fundamental knowledge of Wing in Ground Effect physics, as well as results of fundamental tests under different conditions and designs that began in 1960. In 1984, Günther Jörg received the "PHILIP MORRIS AWARD". In 1987, the Botec Company was founded
Current development
A number of companies have been heavily lobbying governments for development funding to pursue research and development of GEV craft exceeding 500 tonnes. The current worldwide trend in the decline in military research and development spending since the end of the Cold War era has not been conducive to funding the development of GEV craft. The perceived development risk is very high due to the untested nature of the technology and the uncertainties in the development process, operational costs and performance outcomes. GEVs have been suggested as the solution to a number of possible operational roles, with heavy lift being the most appealing attributes. GEVs have been proposed as an alternate to the very large aircraft needed to fulfill these transportation goals. The US Air Force report "Airlift 2025"[citation needed] looked at using GEVs as heavy-lift platforms with the capabilities of insertion into remote locations, long range and good survivability. In the report, GEVs were cited as inappropriate for the intended use as there was a need for another method of transport from the coast to the required destination. Another study by the US Navy’s "Strategic Studies Group XVI"[citation needed] also looked at the possibility of using small GEVs as insertion and extraction craft or naval gunfire teams. Also discussed were the advantages of using WIG craft for transoceanic cargo craft, where their increased speed would reduce resupply times by at least 60%.

Civilian roles for GEVs have been heavily promoted at a number of conferences held since 1993. GEVs have been suggested as recreational craft, small to large ferries and large transport craft. A number of small companies have emerged designing and constructing GEVs for these purposes. A number of large Russian and US companies have gone as far as the preliminary design of a number of concept GEVs mainly for the transport and heavy lift market.

Theoretical research into GEVs’ aerodynamics, ground effect and WIG craft stability has proceeded at a number of research centres. Performance enhancement of takeoff and landing distances as well as methods to increase sea state limitations have been analysed on prototypes and with model tests. Research continues into the determination of the most efficient platform configuration.

Besides the development of appropriate design and structural configuration, special automatic control systems and navigation systems are also being developed. These include special altimeters with high accuracy for small altitude measurements and also lesser dependence on weather conditions. After extensive research and experimentation, it has been shown that "phase radio-altimeters" are most suitable for such applications as compared to laser, isotropic or ultrasonic altimeters.[7]

Even today R&D activities are being carried out for such vehicles in several countries, including Russia, USA, China, Germany, UK and Australia. Other future projects include the horizontal take-off and horizontal landing of Aerospace Planes (ASP) using ekranoplans.

In Russia, the reduced defense spending has forced GEV manufacturers to look for potential sales in the civil market. A number of designs have been proposed for heavy transport while a small GEV, the Amphistar, has been produced in limited numbers.
In 2007, Vice premier and defense minister Sergey Ivanov announced at a meeting of the naval board: "A federal targeted program will be created according to which Nizhniy Novgorod will manufacture wing-in-ground-effect vehicles".[citation needed] The designers of the Beriev aviation scientific and technical complex responded immediately and have promised to create the new ultra-heavy Be-2500 transport amphibious airplane. The Be-2500’s takeoff weight will be about 2,500 tonnes with a useful payload near 1,000 tonnes. Wing span is 125 meters, length is 115 meters and height is 29 meters. Cruising speed at altitude is 770 kilometers per hour, and in ground effect is 450 kilometers per hour. For comparison: wing span of the Boeing 747 is 64.4 meters, the airplane’s length is 70.6 meters, and height is 19.4 meters.
Additionally, the civilian Arctic Trade and Transport Company (Арктическая Торгово-Транспортная Компания) produces "Aquaglide" ekranoplans, small craft capable of transporting five people including the pilot.
In China, GEVs are being researched to fulfill a number of roles in the Chinese military and commercial use. The China Academy of Science & Technology Development and China Ship Scientific Research Centre (CSSRC) started GEV project in 1980. The 702 design bureau and 708 design bureau designed a number of small prototypes. In 1995, the first commercial ferry Tianyi-1 project started. In 1998, the first Tianyi-1 prototype is tested. In 2000, the model is for commercial sale in China. Currently a larger prototype Tianxiang-2 has been completed and a 50 seater Tianxiang-5 is under development.
In the USA, a number of small companies have designed and tested a number of small ferry and recreational craft. The L-325 has gone into limited production and is for commercial sale in the U.S. Aerocon has proposed the development of a large GEV transport craft but does not appear to have gained sufficient funding for the project.
In Germany, the military interest of the 1970s has decreased. As a result the German company RFB has shifted its emphasis from GEV development. The former technical director Mr. Fischer founded a company Fischer Flugmechanik which has designed and built craft for the recreational market, their most notable development being the Airfish recreational craft. Fischer Flugmechanik, in conjunction with Techno Trans research institute, have been sponsored by the German Ministry of R&D to develop a second generation GEV. This has resulted in the development of the two-seat prototype, HW-2VT.
The leading German company for Tandem Airfoil WIG craft is the Botec GmbH, located near Frankfurt.
In 1984 Phillip Morris Company awarded Dipl. Ing. W. Günther Jörg as the winner of the competition for Future Traffic Systems. Botec Company was founded in 1987 under the leadership of the Tandem Airfoilboat specialist Dipl. Ing. Günther W. Jörg . Dipl. Ing. Günther W. Jörg and his team have developed a large number of WIG craft for the civilian market, some of which have gone into limited production. The development of those TAF (Tandem Airfoil Flairboat) includes a number of craft in different designs and sizes. Botec GmbH has developed Tandem Airfoil Flairboats suitable for leisure boat applications and for commercial applications. Up to 2005, 16 Tandem Airfoil Flairboats had been built and successfully tested according to all rules and regulations. Dipl. Ing. Günther W. Jörg and his team have provided a lot of ideas scheduled for further applications in the commercial transportation sector.

In Japan, GEV technology has been analyzed in order to gain a leading position in the fast ferry design and construction market. A number of research craft have been prototyped and tested but none have proceeded onto development.
In Australia, there are a number of small enterprises, companies and individuals, the most newsworthy being the Rada and Seawing companies. These companies were established in the early 1990s with the goal of developing small commuter and recreational craft. None of the craft built by these companies progressed beyond prototype development. Neither of these companies are functioning at present, however the principals are still active in GEV development. In 2004, a company from Australia known as Sea Eagle emerged, and worked with China’s CSSRC to develop a civilian range of Class B Wing Effect Craft. Currently the Craft is flying in China.
Sea EagleNew Zealand mechanic Rudy Heeman successfully adapted a 2-person hovercraft [8] as a wing in ground effect vehicle in 2010.

One of the problems that have delayed the development of these craft is the classification and legislation to be applied. IMO has studied the application of rules based on the International Code of Safety for High-Speed Craft (HSC code) which was developed for fast ships such as hydrofoils, hovercraft, catamarans and the like. The Russian Rules for classification and construction of small type A ekranoplans is a document upon which most GEV design is based. However in 2005, the IMO classified the WISE or GEV crafts under the category of ships.

The International Maritime Organization recognizes three classes of ground effect craft:

Type A cannot operate out of ground effect.
Type B can jump to clear obstacles by converting kinetic energy (speed) into potential energy (height), but cannot maintain flight without the support of the ground effect.
Type C are certified as aircraft, with the ability to operate safely and efficiently out of ground effect.
Advantages and disadvantages
A ground effect craft may have better fuel efficiency than an equivalent aircraft flying at low level due to the close proximity of the ground, reducing lift-induced drag. There are also safety benefits for the occupants of the craft in flying close to the water as an engine failure will not result in severe ditching. However, this particular configuration is difficult to fly even with computer assistance. Flying at very low altitudes, just above the sea, is dangerous if the craft banks too far to one side while making a small radius turn.

A takeoff must be into the wind, which in the case of a water launch, means into the waves. This creates drag and reduces lift. Two main solutions to this problem have been implemented. The first was used by the Russian Ekranoplan program which placed engines in front of the wings to provide more lift. The Caspian Sea Monster had eight such engines, some of which were not used once the craft was airborne. A second approach is to use some form of an air-cushion to raise the vehicle most of the way out of the water, making take-off easier. This is used by German Hanno Fischer in the Hoverwing (successor to the Airfisch ground effect craft), which uses some of the air from the engines to inflate a skirt under the craft in the style of a sidewall hovercraft.

From Wikipedia.

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