Master thesis within light warhead for support weapon : Investigation of defects, methods and requirement specifications in order to get a shell body shatter free

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Avdelningen för maskin- och materialteknik


At launching the shell body, especially the backplane of the shell body, will be exposed to very high stresses due to acceleration, pressure and increased temperature from the propellant combustion. Defects in the shell body could in worst case for example result in high temperature gas leakage into the warhead and thereby ignite the explosives before exiting the launcher. This kind of explosion results in serious damages and can seriously injure both the gunner and other people in the surroundings.

According to earlier study, carbon fibre reinforced epoxy with filament winding manufacturing method was the primary focus. The purpose of this master thesis was to investigate requirements and testing methods on a shell body manufactured in composite that will guarantee the safety of the gunner and surroundings in the launch phase.

The pre-study conducted in this project showed that matrix cracks and fibre breakages are most common defects in the shell body that occur during launching affected by burst pressure. Matrix crack is the less dangerous defect among the impact damage types. Discussion with composite manufacturing companies showed that fibre breakage is a very serious type of defect since more breakage of fibres leads to the shell body have reduced stresses and cannot built-up the fully potential burst pressure during launching.


Two requirement specifications were carried out, one for the shell body and another for the detection methods. These were created by own research and ideas according to found information, telephone- and e-mail contact with experts in areas and with personnel at Saab Dynamics AB.

Some requirements for the shell body were that it should be fully usable after drop tests from different heights, vibration and transportation tests yield no cyclic damage after a long transport. Furthermore, the shell body should always use a fully isolated driving band to not have hot explosive gases penetrated into critical sections which results in detonation already in the launcher barrel. The most important requirements for the detection methods were to have depth analysis, high reliability and in-field inspection.


Elimination- and decision matrices were made to find which detection methods should be the final selections in order to find the defects in a shell body. The detection methods which did not fulfil the criteria from each separate matrix were eliminated and did not proceed further as a concept. Eliminations were performed in concept generation phase (elimination matrix) and concept selection phase (decision matrix). In final selection phase a couple of methods were chosen that together found as many defects as possible.


By using both acoustic emission and shearography all the critical defects and a wide range of other defects can be detected with very high reliability and resolution at an acceptable cost. These two methods “interact” perfectly with each other. Acoustic emission is the best method to find fibre breakage and matrix cracks, which are the most commonly occurring defects during launching. But shearography does not have a good detectability of fibre breakage and matrix cracks. On the other hand, shearography has good detectability of both planar- and volumetric defects.

It is concluded that only two inspection methods, i.e. acoustic emission and shearography are needed to detect all of the possible defects in the grenade shell body. This is more economical solution requiring smaller space and fewer operators compared to one separate NDT method for detecting each type of defect.

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