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Discussion: What was the best all round fighter of ww2?


LColony_Red_Comet

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Eisenfaustus
Posted (edited)

Fw 190

End. 
Good thread!

 

;)

Edited by Eisenfaustus
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Aurora_Stealth

I think this article by Chuck Hawks covers it quite well.

 

There cannot be one "best" because none were superior in every (or even most) respects for the entire war.

 

Some were better all rounders and some were consistent performers throughout though.

 

https://www.chuckhawks.com/best_fighter_planes.htm

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LR.theRedPanda
Just now, Aurora_Stealth said:

I think this article by Chuck Hawks covers it quite well.

 

There cannot be one "best" because none were superior in every (or even most) respects for the entire war.

 

Some were better all rounders and some were consistent performers throughout though.

 

https://www.chuckhawks.com/best_fighter_planes.htm

Wrong.

 

PO-2

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Voidhunger

Well, obviously its was Avia B-534.

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Na-zdorovie

You must be mistaken and you meant to say the 109 in most variants :)

 

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cardboard_killer

Snoopy's Doghouse

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Aurora_Stealth

If for any reason while reading this thread, you feel a sudden and overwhelming sense of national pride, patriotic duty, triumphalism, the need to take excessive credit ... side effects such as the sound of trumpets, excessive reading of Stars and Stripes magazines or National Interest articles, being overcome with paranoia from thinking that flag blowing outside has suddenly started rising on the pole its attached to... please contact:

 

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This message was sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association ®

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oc2209
Posted (edited)

The definition of 'all round' is subjective and therefore worthless as a criterion.

 

That said, I personally define 'all-around best' as a combination of all possible factors; including: ease of production; ease of maintenance; ease of learning; combat efficacy; survivability; and last but not least, adaptability (that is, being upgradable as the war progressed; or being useful in other roles; overall design flexibility).

 

Using the above criteria, we can analyze the usual suspects for the top spot.

 

The Zero, for instance, was easy to produce and maintain, relatively easy to learn, pretty effective in combat; but also had very low survivability and almost no adaptability.

 

The Spitfire was not easy to produce (not initially at least), and probably scored decent marks in maintenance and survivability, with high marks in all other criteria.

 

The 109 scored marginal to high in all respects aside from ease of learning.

 

In terms of total package, I would define the best overall fighter of WWII as being either the Fw-190 or the P-47.

 

Both proved easy to learn, with high survivability, high combat efficacy, and great adaptability. Both were competitive at any stage in the war. Both excelled in air-to-air and ground attack roles. Adequate marks on ease of production and maintenance.

 

What prevents the P-51 from being considered is its ground attack inferiority due to its lack of a tough radial engine. Same goes for the Spitfire and 109. I'm also omitting the Yak and La-5/7 series because they were never suited to ground attack roles.

 

The only flaws the 190 and P-47 had were in altitude extremes; high for the former, low for the latter. However, the 190D series (and subsequent Ta-152 developments, which can be considered part of the Fw-190 'family') rectified this issue; while the P-47's low alt performance was also improved from its original design.

Edited by oc2209
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AndyJWest

Vought_XF5U-1_line_drawings.png

 

Well, it's almost round... 😀

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Bremspropeller

That's a provoking Vought.

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Cybermat47

Obviously it’s the Sack AS-6. No other plane even comes close to being all-round.

 

 4B46A5D6-2FD5-4453-AB5C-59400952001B.jpeg.66cf50347b4ad2b5a6562ba4ef7e60b5.jpeg

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Heliopause

Brewster Buffalo

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PatrickAWlson

None of them.  Quick example: FW190 vs P-51.  Neither could do the other's job.  The Fw190 would have had to turn back over the channel.  The P-51 would not make much of a dent in a B-17 box with 4x or 6 x .50 cals.

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JG7_X-Man
Posted (edited)

The best all around fighter of WWII?

 

LOL Dude are you seriously trying to get us all band by opening up this can of worms...

 

May the verbal abuse begin! :popcorm:

7 hours ago, PatrickAWlson said:

None of them.  Quick example: FW190 vs P-51.  Neither could do the other's job.  The Fw190 would have had to turn back over the channel.  The P-51 would not make much of a dent in a B-17 box with 4x or 6 x .50 cals.

I think you mean the 109 sir. Actually the 109E-4... the E-7 and later had drop tanks which gave them roughly 1,300 km range, maxing out with the 109K-4 at ~2,400km.

 

The Fw 190A-4/U8 was the Jabo-Rei (Jagdbomber Reichweite, long-range fighter-bomber), adding twin standard Luftwaffe 300 L (79 US gal) drop tanks. I believe those hit several targets in Southern England at low altitude and high speed.

 

However, your point is understood and valid - every fighter aircraft had it's strengths and weaknesses.

Edited by JG7_X-Man
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MiloMorai
11 hours ago, JG7_X-Man said:

E-7 and later had drop tanks which gave them roughly 1,300 km range, maxing out with the 109K-4 at ~2,400km.

Those ranges aren't for normal combat missions.

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Bremspropeller
11 hours ago, JG7_X-Man said:

I think you mean the 109 sir. Actually the 109E-4... the E-7 and later had drop tanks which gave them roughly 1,300 km range, maxing out with the 109K-4 at ~2,400km.

 

1300km range strolling around at max conserve power - accept a fight and you're down to half of that.

The only way for a K-4 to achieve 2400km range is if the pilot drank all the methanol before the flight planning.

 

11 hours ago, JG7_X-Man said:

The Fw 190A-4/U8 was the Jabo-Rei (Jagdbomber Reichweite, long-range fighter-bomber), adding twin standard Luftwaffe 300 L (79 US gal) drop tanks. I believe those hit several targets in Southern England at low altitude and high speed.

 

They'd be attacking target across England (mostly at night) - they took off on the french Channel coast, though.

 

18 hours ago, PatrickAWlson said:

None of them.  Quick example: FW190 vs P-51.  Neither could do the other's job.  The Fw190 would have had to turn back over the channel.  The P-51 would not make much of a dent in a B-17 box with 4x or 6 x .50 cals.

 

Again, the Mustang Ia had 4x 20mm guns.

Fitting a bunch of RAF-Hispanos into the P-51's wing would not have been too big of a deal.

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von_Tom

 

The Spitifre.

 

Anyone saying differently is simply insane.  The most insane will try to justify a different aircraft, pointing at things like versatility, range and all that rubbish.

 

spit.jpg.e9b84ba0d7c010396ebc75c25f54b0c8.jpg

 

von Tom

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III/JG52_Otto_-I-
Posted (edited)

image.png.62259fa06e7debc2ff1d14315eab90bb.png

P.S.
it is an easy joke, ..  allies fanboys don't angry :biggrin:

 

Edited by III/JG52_Otto_-I-
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PatrickAWlson
41 minutes ago, Bremspropeller said:

 

Again, the Mustang Ia had 4x 20mm guns.

Fitting a bunch of RAF-Hispanos into the P-51's wing would not have been too big of a deal.

 

Even with 4x 20mm on the Mustang I would prefer a 190 to attack a bomber box.  Less vulnerable to return fire.  General point remains that there was no single "best".  Too many different jobs to do with competing requirements.  bbest is defined by what jobs the service in question valued most and did the plane in question do those jobs well.

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cardboard_killer
9 minutes ago, PatrickAWlson said:

bbest is defined by what jobs the service in question valued most and did the plane in question do those jobs well.

 

I would add: ease of manufacture; cost of manufacture (especially for Axis a/c); non-combat accident rate (which encompasses forgiveness of training new pilots and suitability for difficult areas of operations); oil/fuel consumption (especially important for Axis a/c); ease of maintenance and overall robustness of use.

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[F.Circus]MoerasGrizzly
Posted (edited)

Literally anything that wasn't built in a concentration camp.

Edited by [F.Circus]MoerasGrizzly
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PatrickAWlson
2 hours ago, cardboard_killer said:

 

I would add: ease of manufacture; cost of manufacture (especially for Axis a/c); non-combat accident rate (which encompasses forgiveness of training new pilots and suitability for difficult areas of operations); oil/fuel consumption (especially important for Axis a/c); ease of maintenance and overall robustness of use.

 

Non combat accident rate?  Ridiculous.  They need to learn to fly better.  Another 1000 Camels please.

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Ghost666

The one you took back home after the war. And that's all I have to say about that.

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HBPencil
Posted (edited)

As others have stated this question is kind of unanswerable as there are many, often contradictory, ways to measure an aircraft's usefulness.
But having said that if I had to choose one all-round fighter (only those that entered production and saw combat, no prototypes) I'd go with the F4U Corsair; carrier capable, good performance even compared to pure land based fighters, rugged construction, good range, average to good firepower for both air to air and ground pounding. Radar and camera equipped variants also available.
It also looks good in a form-follows-function way.

Colourised by me:
No photo description available.

Edited by HBPencil
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PatCartier

The P47 has the lowest attrition rate of all aircraft. Not sure if this makes it the best, but it is an important factor.

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JG7_X-Man
16 hours ago, PatCartier said:

The P47 has the lowest attrition rate of all aircraft. Not sure if this makes it the best, but it is an important factor.

 

The % of a particular aircraft that survived the war is just a number. We need context i.e. mission success ratio (defined as a complete successful combat mission without failure to return to a friendly base with major injury to the pilot or aircraft). Having the lowest attrition rate only means fewer were lost without reference to why...

 The why could be several reasons...

  • Number built relative to other aircraft.
  • Number of missions flown relative to other aircraft.
  • What type of missions flown relative to other aircraft.
  • When and where the aircraft operated.
  • ....

I think the aircraft with the highest mission success ratio would be a better start for this conversation.

On 5/25/2021 at 6:33 AM, MiloMorai said:

Those ranges aren't for normal combat missions.

Merely point out the 109 only had a range problem during the Battle of Britain. Not before and certainly not after. 

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MiloMorai
16 minutes ago, JG7_X-Man said:

Merely point out the 109 only had a range problem during the Battle of Britain. Not before and certainly not after. 

Combat radius didn't change much even after the BoB.

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VBF-12_KW

Are we just discussing performance?  Or do we care about context (when it became available, what the actual aircraft could do vs numbers on paper, etc)?  Adding in some date ranges makes things even more interesting, since the wonderful super props of 1945 didn’t exist for most of the war.  The war as we define it in the west (Sep 1939 - Aug 1945) breaks down pretty neatly into 6 twelve month blocks.


My opinions:

 

Sep 1939 - Aug 1940: Bf109E - The only other possible competitor here is the Spit I, but it was rather rare and hardly saw any combat until summer of 1940, and didn’t have a constant speed prop or 100 octane fuel for most of the year.

 

Sep 1940 - Aug 1941: Bf109 - The Spit II and V are very comparable in performance in this time frame to the E-7 and F-2 and enter service at roughly the same time.  I give the nod to the 109 due to its wider use and better head to head results in Summer of 41 when the RAF switched to the offensive.

 

Sep 1941 - Aug 1942: Fw190A - While it had some initial teething problems, this represented a big step forward and sent a shock through its opponents.  The 109F was still limited to reduced power settings throughout this time frame, the MiG-3 struggled in actual combat use, and the Spit IX had barely entered service and early Merlin 61 versions weren’t as impressive as the later 63 and 66 variants that would arrive in 1943.  The Macchi C202 was a solid design but under armed and with an engine a generation behind its German contemporaries.  The A6M and Ki43 both had astonishing range and maneuverability but are so far down on speed that it’s hard to consider them.

 

Sep 1942 - Aug 1943:  This is possibly the most interesting time frame.  The P-38, P-47, F4U-1 and F6F all enter service.  The Spit IX really comes into its own, and the Typhoon starts seeing combat.  109 and 190 performance have stagnated (and engine reliability woes continue to plague the 109 and call for reduced power limits).  The Yak-9 and La-5 both enter service.  The Macchi C205v finally addresses the armament issue for Italian fighters, and brings it up to the latest engine spec, but in tiny numbers.  The Ki-61 appears in New Guinea.  I think the P-38, F4U-1, Spit IX and Fw190A all have strong arguments here - the Spit(with a Merlin 66) is probably the best pure fighter but least versatile, the P-38 is probably the opposite.  Modern assessments show the P-38 and F4U weren’t nearly as effective in the Pacific in this time frame as was once thought.  I’ll split the difference and go with the Fw190A as my pick.


Sep 1943 - Aug 1944: P-51B/D - Yes the Spit XIV and Tempest V had also entered service, but later in the period and in tiny numbers.  Nothing else was in the same performance class, and the Mustang combined that performance with range along the lines of the A6M and P-38.

 

Sep 1944 - Aug 1945: P-51D - The 190D-9 didn’t really have it’s full performance capability (MW50) until 1945.  The 109K generally couldn’t achieve its stated performance due to build and reliability issues.  Both weren’t available in any sort of numbers until 1945.  The La-7 likewise faced early reliability issues, didn’t appear in numbers until 1945, and was really a low altitude specialist.  Late Japanese fighters like the Ki84 and N1K2 also suffered from reliability issues and couldn’t match the outright performance of the Allied super props.  The F4U-4 and P-47N both had stunning performance but barely saw combat before the end of the war.

 

A special mention goes to the A6M(41-42), F6F(43-44) and F4U (44-45) for being naval fighters that could compete with or even out perform many of their land based contemporaries.

 

I left out the various jets for obvious reasons of reliability and numbers - none of them were quite ready to make any significant impact.

 

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Bremspropeller
19 hours ago, VBF-12_KW said:

Modern assessments show the P-38 and F4U weren’t nearly as effective in the Pacific in this time frame as was once thought.  I’ll split the difference and go with the Fw190A as my pick.

 

Would you mind elaborating on the P-38 and F4U comment?

 

The Fw 190A is the most versatile option, but it has deficits in range to take those capabilities to the enemy.

 

19 hours ago, VBF-12_KW said:

The F4U-4 and P-47N both had stunning performance but barely saw combat before the end of the war.

 

A special mention goes to the A6M(41-42), F6F(43-44) and F4U (44-45) for being naval fighters that could compete with or even out perform many of their land based contemporaries.

 

Of an interesting side-note:

The F4U-4 did away with a quite a bit of internal fuel volume (deemed un-necessary), while the P-47N went exactly the opposite direction.

Having a mobile airbase taking you closer to the action helps.

 

I'd personally rate the F4U-4 better than the P-47N. Mostly for the fact that you'll get the same raw performance by using a less complex supercharging-setup. Plus the additional flexibility by carrier ops. Plus the armament in the -4B. Plus the radar in the -4E and -4N.

 

I think the A6M is a little overrated. It does come with astonishing properties, but it severely lacks in tactical equipment. It's supposed superiority isn't anywhere close to the actual superiority of the 109E vs. most of it's european rivals - certainly not when compared to the P-40E and the F4F. I think a lot of the japaneses success came due to the US, Brits, Dutch and French having their pants down and shoe-laces tied together.

 

The F6F was astonishing in the regards of tactical capabilities, while it's margin of superiority over the contemporary Zeros wasn't off the scale. A great fighting-tool.

 

On 5/27/2021 at 3:04 AM, JG7_X-Man said:

Merely point out the 109 only had a range problem during the Battle of Britain. Not before and certainly not after. 

 

That's not true. Range was always an issue and possibly a deal-breaker.

Certainly in the MTO and certainly during Defense of the Reich, where fuel-consumption during climb and radius of action were a big issue.

 

With the LW flying mostly fighter-sweeps over the eastern front, range (or the lack of it) was very critcal there, too. Especially when the number of available fighters was always way too thin to cover the entire front-line.

 

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DD_fruitbat
Posted (edited)

Anyone who played il2 1946 and has never had any other reference, would say the i-185 or the J2M.....🤪 

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VBF-12_KW
4 hours ago, Bremspropeller said:

 

Would you mind elaborating on the P-38 and F4U comment?

 

The Fw 190A is the most versatile option, but it has deficits in range to take those capabilities to the enemy.

 

 


I’m referring to some of the newer books out there by Claringbould where he is able to cross reference with Japanese loss records.  He makes some very strong arguments that the air to air battles of late 42 and 43 in New Guinea and the Solomons were much more competitive, where a lot of the older literature gave the impression of crushing US victories.  The P-38 and F4U (and P-47) were obviously newer, faster, more capable designs than their opponents, however this doesn’t seem to have translated into as big an advantage as one would think given the speed differences.

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Reggie_Mental
On 5/20/2021 at 6:22 PM, LR.theRedPanda said:

Wrong.

 

PO-2

Hahahahahaha!

 

I took off in a PO-2 with rockets and machine guns and smashed a train full of fuel tankers to bits in just 2 passes. Amazing the damage you can do with this lawn mower with wings

On 5/26/2021 at 9:01 AM, PatCartier said:

The P47 has the lowest attrition rate of all aircraft. Not sure if this makes it the best, but it is an important factor.

But it did mostly serve in theatres that had a notable absence of credible opposition. Even when escorting 8AF over Germany, The LW concentrated on the heavies and avoided the escorts when they could. 

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LColony_Red_Comet

If only one all rounder can be picked, the Mustang is the best hands down. It has 4 times the range of most ww2 fighters, can carry a bomb load as good as anything else, and has top tier air to air performance. Aside from range, the Mustang blow the competition away in terms of speed. It was absurdly faster than contemporary 190s or 109s or spitfire (saving for the mk 14 of which only 900 were made). Not only is the Mustang a 440mph fighter, it retains huge relative performance over contemporary fighters at all altitudes. It does this because its low drag, which also made it long range, means that it gets more out of the engine at any given height.

 

A brief rundown

 

VS spit 9: Mustang is much faster, and has 4 times the range. Easily outstrips spitfire in ground attack.

 

VS 109: Mustang is much faster at altitudes vs most common version the G-6. Vs G-14, a contemporary 150 octane Mustang is still faster at all altitudes, still by more than 20mph at sea level with equal climb abilities. Has 4 times the range. Easily outstrips 109 in ground attack. K4 would have about the same air to air performance but didnt enter service until OCT 1944 and by 45 still only made up a quarter of 109s.

 

VS 190. Mustang has all the cards (except firepower and roll). Faster at all altitudes. Much better high alt performance. Better turn performance at all altitudes. About 3 times the range.

 

VS 38: Much faster at all altitudes. Better roll. Similar range but Mustang has more on internal fuel which matters. Loses slightly on bomb load. Worse climb rate until 150 octane at which point Mustang is better. Significantly better dive performance. Loses to 38 in sustained turns.

 

Vs 47: Considerably more range. Considerably more agile (47 was a cow). Unlike 47, doesnt climb like a brick. Faster at almost all altitudes, only marginally worse up high. Generally speaking a much broader performance envelope unlike the 47 which was a poor design that weighed 1 billion tons just so it could have a turbo that only paid off over narrow altitude band. I actually consider the 51 to be better at ground attack. Durability is overrated. 47 has slightly more payload but it behaves like a brick when loaded up, even by the standards of a bomb laden plane. I dont really care if it can lose a cylinder and keep running, I would much rather avoid taking the hit in the first place. 

 

Vs US Navy fighters in general: Equal or significantly better climb, ie corsair. Much faster. Naval fighters are more agile but Ill take the climb and speed over than any day. Considerably more range. However, Im not sure Naval fighters make sense to compare since carrier operations have their own requirements which tend to suck performance out of aircraft relative to land based ones.

 

Vs Tempest/Typhoon. There is a big difference between the performance of these aircraft, but I am lazy so im going to be brief. Tempest is better at air to ground, and is a better low altitude fighter. But the Mustang has considerably more range, and is better at high altitude. The plane with better high altitude performance is automatically superior so long as it isnt so overly optimized that its garbage down low. So Mustang wins.

 

 

Planes that should not even be considered for this:

 

P-40s, P-39s, and all Russian and Japanese fighters. P-40s, P-39s, and Russian fighters lack high altitude superchargers and are therefore are objectively second rate trash right out of the gate. Japanese fighters are too slow to be taken seriously for a best all round fighter.

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Cybermat47
3 hours ago, LColony_Red_Comet said:

P-40s, P-39s, and Russian fighters lack high altitude superchargers and are therefore are objectively second rate trash right out of the gate.


Given that the P-40 was the mount of the top Allied ace in North Africa, the P-39 was the mount of the highest-scoring pilot of American-built aircraft, and Soviet fighters were the mount of the top Allied ace of WWII full stop, they don’t seem like objective second-rate trash to me.

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Bremspropeller
3 hours ago, LColony_Red_Comet said:

A brief rundown

 

Way too broad a brush you're using there.

 

The Spit outclims and outturns the Mustang. The XIV is about as fast and still climbs away at ease.

 

The 109 will always outclimb a Mustang. The late 109s are just about as fast.

 

A D-9 will outclimb a Mustang and is about just as fast as a Mustang (including 150 octane) if you average the speed-differences across altitude.

 

The 38 has twice the bomb load and will bring you home with an engine out.

 

The 47's range is variant-dependant. The N fixed the range issue for the most part. Feeding six more cylinders will keep the fuel-flow up, though. I wouldn't call the Mustang a better fighter-bomber. Not even the 354th FG thought so (and those pilots LOVED their Mustangs).

 

The Navy birds can operate from carriers. Late Corsairs (-4 and later) are right up there with Mustang performance. The Corsair can carry twice the bombload.

 

Unless the Mustang uses 150octane and is boosted into oblivion (80 inches), the Tempest and Typhoon are better down low.

 

 

I'll give you the Mustang is probably the best deal overall. Unless you want carriers.

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