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Publication numberUS20070000377 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/201,851
Publication dateJan 4, 2007
Filing dateAug 10, 2005
Priority dateNov 1, 2004
Also published asWO2007001349A2, WO2007001349A3, WO2007001349A9
Publication number11201851, 201851, US 2007/0000377 A1, US 2007/000377 A1, US 20070000377 A1, US 20070000377A1, US 2007000377 A1, US 2007000377A1, US-A1-20070000377, US-A1-2007000377, US2007/0000377A1, US2007/000377A1, US20070000377 A1, US20070000377A1, US2007000377 A1, US2007000377A1
InventorsThomas Ohnstad
Original AssigneeMjd Innovations, L.L.C.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Flexible collapsible armor structure
US 20070000377 A1
A gun turret armor shroud for the 360° shielding of a gunner atop a military vehicle having a top-mounted gun including a generally annular, fabric-based. flex-curtain structure, and associated with this flex-curtain structure at least one of (a) an internal support frame, and (b) an external support frame.
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1. A gun turret armor shroud for protecting a military vehicle-top gunner comprising
a flex-curtain, armor-material surround mountable on the top of a military vehicle, and shaped, when so mounted, to provide 360° lateral anti-projectile protection for a gunner positioned to operate a vehicle-top gun on the vehicle, said surround having a nominal design shape, and being returnably deformable from that shape to assume different other shapes, and
support structure operatively connected to said surround and adapted yieldably to support the surround in its said nominal design shape.
2. The shroud of claim 1, wherein said support structure comprises a distribution of plural column elements.
3. The shroud of claim 2, wherein said column elements each takes the form of an inflatable/deflatable component.
4. The shroud of claim 3, wherein said support structure further comprises fluid conduit structure operatively connected to, and in fluid communication with, said inflatable/deflatable components.
5. The shroud of claim 1, wherein said surround is formed of a flexible and collapsible armor fabric.
6. The shroud of claim 5, wherein said fabric includes a fluid-impervious, inflatable/deflatable structure.
7. The shroud of claim 5, wherein said fabric takes the form of a weave of elongate, aramid fibres.
8. The shroud of claim 5, wherein said fabric takes the form of a weave of elongate, ceramic-surfaced strands.
9. The shroud of claim 5, wherein said support structure comprises a distribution of plural column elements.
10. The shroud of claim 9, wherein said surround takes the form of a structure with a pair of spaced walls, and said column elements are disposed within the space between said walls.
11. The shroud of claim 10, wherein said column elements each takes the form of an inflatable/deflatable component.
12. The shroud of claim 10 which further includes, in the space between said walls, a fill of elongate, slender ceramic-surfaced shards.
13. The shroud of claim 12, wherein aid shards are entrained in a flexible foam material.
14. The shroud of claim 10, wherein said fabric takes the form of a weave of elongate, aramid fibres.
15. The shroud of claim 10, wherein said fabric takes the form of a weave of elongate, ceramic-surfaced strands.
16. A gun turret armor shroud for the 360° shielding of a gunner atop a military vehicle having a top-mounted gun comprising
a generally annular, fabric-based. flex-curtain structure, and
associated with said flex-curtain structure at least one of (a) an internal support frame, and (b) an external support frame.
17. The shroud of claim 16, wherein said flex-curtain structure is compoundly curved.
18. The shroud of claim 16, wherein said support frame is internal, and is selectively inflatable and deflatable to allow for selective raising and collapsing of said flex-curtain structure.
19. The shroud of claim 16, wherein said support frame is external, and takes the form of an elastomer layer whose association with said flex-curtain structure takes the form of being a portion of that structure.
20. The shroud of claim 16, wherein said flex-curtain structure includes at least one of (a) a layer including ceramic tiles, (a) a layer including elongate, woven aramid fibres, and (c) a layer including elongate, woven strands having ceramic outer surfaces.
21. The shroud of claim 16, wherein said flex-curtain structure is double-walled.
22. The shroud of claim 21, wherein said flex-curtain structure includes a reverse-bend region which bridges between the double walls in the structure.
23. A vehicle-top gun turret armor shroud deployable adjacent and around a vehicle-top gun comprising
a nominally upright central axis, and
a flexible, impact yield-and-return, 360° armoring body circumsurrounding said axis.
24. The shroud of claim 23, wherein said body is formed with compoundly curved layers of woven armoring fabric.
25. The shroud of claim 23 which is structured to accommodate selected collapsing and un-collapsing of said body generally along said central axis.
26. The shroud of claim 25, wherein said armoring body, when collapsed, is configured with its walls in a serpentine-fold condition.
  • [0001]
    This patent application claims priority to prior-filed, copending, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/624,489, filed Nov. 1, 2004, for “Flexible Gun Turret Armor Shroud”. The entire disclosure content of that prior-filed provisional application is hereby incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0002]
    This invention pertains to personnel protective armor in the form of a gun-mount surround-shroud, also referred to as an armor-material surround. In particular it relates to a flexible, fabric based, personnel-guarding, anti-ballistic gun turret armor shroud contoured for surrounding a military vehicle-top gun and its mount. The proposed shroud takes the form of a flexible, fabric-walled, wrap-around basket-like assembly of plural material layers, including an outer, high-elastomer strike layer, and backing layers including at least one, and preferably plural, fabric layer(s) each formed of one or more selected anti-ballistic materials, such as (a) ceramic tiles, (b) ceramic-surfaced, ductile-cored strands, and/or strand shards suitably contained, and (c) aramid fibres.
  • [0003]
    The shroud of the invention may be (a) free-standing and generally self-supporting, (b) supported by a flexible, passive internal support structure which is columnar in nature, or (c) collapsibly supported with a flexible, active, internal, inflation/deflation structure, such as one formed by flexible, inflatable/deflatable tubes, with this inflation/deflation structure being fluid-coupled to a fluid-distribution manifold/plenum structure near the base of the shroud.
  • [0004]
    Contour fabrication of at least portions of the flexible fabric employed in the shroud may conveniently be accomplished utilizing teachings found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,825,912 and 4,949,761, the disclosure contents of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0005]
    As will become apparent, by using advanced, lightweight materials and ballistic-barrier techniques and materials, the shroud of this invention may be formed to be quite lightweight in construction, and because of its flexible fabric characteristics, may also be formed readily in a wide variety of useful configurations. Because of these important features, the invention offers wide-ranging options for use in a large number of military armoring settings, such as those involving vehicle-top, gun-mount armoring, where low weight and special shaping may be significant considerations.
  • [0006]
    A further important advantage offered collaboratively (a) by the fabric-like, flex-curtain nature of the invention, and (b) by the flexibility which is embodied in the support structure that is provided in certain modifications of the invention, is that the shroud responds to a ballistic impact with an important yielding deflection which plays a significant role in defeating a ballistic strike, such as a bullet or shrapnel strike.
  • [0007]
    These and various other important, novel and useful features of the invention will become more fully apparent as the detailed description which now follows is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • [0008]
    FIG. 1 is a fragmentary side view of a military vehicle carrying a top-mounted machine gun. The space around this gun is shown guarded by a preferred and best-mode embodiment of a pliable, fabric-based (fabric-walled), free-standing turret armor shroud, or structure, constructed according to the present invention. Fabric in this shroud preferably takes the form of a weave including either aramid fibres, or ceramic-surfaced, ductile-cored strand material. The weave of this fabric is such that it accommodates selective raising and collapsing of the shroud as illustrated in, and described herein with respect to, FIG. 8 in the drawings.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 2 is a larger-scale, isometric view of the shroud of FIG. 1 shown alone and isolated from other structure. Dashed lines are employed in this figure to illustrate an internal flexible tubular frame which is employed according to one preferred manner of embodying and practicing the invention.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 3 is an isometric view, similar to FIG. 2, but here showing in solid lines the mentioned internal frame pictured in dashed lines in FIG. 2. The fabric wall structure of the shroud is illustrated in dash-double-dot lines in FIG. 3.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 4 is an enlarged, fragmentary view taken generally along the line 4-4 in FIG. 2 illustrating a representative cross section taken through one sidewall, or wall, portion of the shroud of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3. This view illustrates one of the internal frame tubes employed in the shroud embodiment of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, with a portion of the illustrated tube broken away to show details of internal construction.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 5 is an enlarged, fragmentary view taken generally in the area embraced by curved arrows 5-5 in FIG. 4, with the internal frame removed from this view, and with one potential internal modification illustrated in dash-dot lines.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 6 is a view very much like that presented in FIG. 4, but here showing, in solid lines, a modified form of the shroud of this invention in which the flexible, fabric wall structure is self-supporting, in the sense that it requires no internal frame such as the tubular frame illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4. FIG. 6, with respect to a curving dash-dot line presented in this figure, illustrates also another modified form of the invention wherein the entire inside of the shroud wall and base structure is coated with a fluid-impervious elastomeric coating.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 7 is a view which is also very much like FIG. 4, except that it shows yet another modified form of the invention in which there is an internal flexible tubular frame wherein the tubes are inflatable and deflatable devices to permit selective elevation and collapse (un-collapsing and collapsing, respectively) of the shroud structure of the invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 8 is a stylized and schematic illustration of the cross section of a wall portion (or wall) of a shroud made in accordance with the modification shown in FIG. 7. This wall is illustrated in four different line characters to picture inflatable/deflatable elevation and collapse of the structure under the influence of pressure fluid supplied and exhausted through a control manifold which is schematically illustrated at the base of FIG. 8. It is in this figure of the drawings that the wall of the shroud of this invention can be seen to possess what is referred to herein as a serpentine-fold condition when collapsed.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 9 is a view which is also like FIG. 4, except that it illustrates still another modified form of the invention wherein the double-walled fabric shroud of the invention which is nominally supported by an internal tubular frame like that illustrated in FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 7, is otherwise filled with a random and chaotic jumble/mix of tiny, elongate, sharp-edged, strand shards of essentially the same ceramic-surfaced, ductile-cored, elongate strand material mentioned above in the description of FIG. 1. FIG. 9 illustrates two different manners of incorporating such shards.
  • [0017]
    Turning now to the drawings and referring first of all to FIGS. 1-4, inclusive, indicated generally at 20 in FIG. 1 is a military ground vehicle, on the roof 20 a of which is mounted a single, swivel machine gun 21 which is to be operated by a single person (a gunner) stationed with it. Such a weapon and, of course, the gunner assigned to operate it, are deployed in an extremely vulnerable, high-exposure, high-risk condition in a combat situation.
  • [0018]
    To deal with this dangerous condition, suitably mounted on roof 20 a through a base 22 a (which base may be annular or “ring-like” in nature, or in fact not present at all in certain implementations of the invention) is a flexible, fabric-based, flex-curtain armor turret shroud structure 22 constructed in accordance with one preferred form of the present invention. Shroud 22, which is generally annular as viewed from above, and which has the three-dimensional, inverted, basket-like configuration pictured in FIGS. 1-3, inclusive, includes, as support structure, a flexible internal support frame 24 which takes the form of plural, generally upright, elongate, flexible, hollow tubes, or column elements, 26 that are filled with a suitable closed-cell foam core material 28 (see FIG. 4), such as polyethylene foam. Tubes 26 (frame tubes) are made preferably of conventional reinforced “fire-hose” material, such as rubber-lined, fibre-reinforced tubing, with a cross-sectional outside diameter of about 3-inches. These frame tubes are suitably joined at their lower ends 26 a to base 22 a, and are S-curved inwardly as shown, with their upper ends joined through flexible links 27 of any suitable nature. Looking specifically at FIGS. 2 and 3, one can see that two of these tubes are not linked at their upper ends, but rather are linked more nearly adjacent their lower ends by a short link 27 a. This structure is provided in order to define a gun-barrel-accommodating window 22 b in the shroud.
  • [0019]
    Shroud 22 is also referred to herein as an armor-material surround, and as a compoundly curved annular structure. As can be seen, with respect to an upright shroud central axis 29 (see FIGS. 1 and 2), this shroud furnishes effectively 360° lateral protection to a gunner stationed with gun 21.
  • [0020]
    Shroud 22 has a ballistic armoring wall 22A possessing a profile with a kind of gentle S-shaped (mentioned above) profile as illustrated, with this wall possessing an upper annular side which is smaller in diameter than its lower, annular side. The upper side, or lip, of shroud 22 is outwardly flared as shown, and the part of this lip which is diagonally opposite window 22 b has a raised portion 22 c for guarding the sides and back of a gunner's head. As will shortly be seen, wall 22A, which is also referred to herein as a flexible, impact yield-and-return armoring body, is formed with, among other things, plural, compoundly curved layers including woven armoring fabric layers.
  • [0021]
    Shroud 22, and its associated base and internal frame structures, are preferably mounted on the top of vehicle 20 to accommodate swiveling of gun 21 as required.
  • [0022]
    Specifically forming ballistic armoring wall 22A in shroud 22 is a fabric-based, double-walled, multi-layer, drape-like structure 30 which has, as will now be described, plural layers preferably formed of several different materials which collaborate in unique ways to defeat impacting projectiles (such as bullets, shrapnel, etc.).
  • [0023]
    FIGS. 4 and 5 show one preferred construction for structure 30. In general terms, and as shown in these two figures, structure 30 includes outer and inner spaced wall portions (or walls) 30 a, 30 b which are bridged by a curved, reverse-bend, connecting cap portion, or region, 30 c (the previously mentioned shroud lip).
  • [0024]
    Several things which may be observed immediately from a study of the drawings is that fabric-like shroud wall structure 30, which, as will be seen, is principally formed of flexible/collapsible, returnably deformable armor fabric, in its several wall and cap portions, possesses a quality of compound curvature. One consequence of this curvature configuration is that, in addition to providing specific, ballistic-attack “material responses”, as will shortly be described, it deals with projectile impacts in a highly configuration-collaborative and cooperative manner by various acts involving telegraphing and “sharing” of regional impact-reaction behaviors. In a manner of thinking, because of the “fabric curvature” which exist in flexible structure 30, and because of certain qualities of bending and unbending (loading and unloading) associated with flexibility and elasticity, impact shocks become widely dissipated in the forms of material deformation, and flex-produced heating.
  • [0025]
    This compoundly curved shape for shroud 22 is referred to as a nominal design shape. It is a shape which the structure of the shroud tends naturally to assume. As will become understood from a reading of all of the disclosure contents herein, when a ballistic event, such as a bullet strike, occurs, the shroud deforms yieldably and elastically to deal with the strike. It then returns substantially to its nominal design shape.
  • [0026]
    In FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, structure 30 is shown in solid lines in its nominal design shape. In dashed lines at 30A in FIG. 4, the fragmentary portion of structure 30 shown there is illustrated in a yieldably deflected, deformed other shape which it has assumed in response to a ballistic impact that has occurred somewhere on its right side in this figure. Following such a yielding deflection, structure 30 returns substantially to its solid outline condition in FIG. 4.
  • [0027]
    In a preferred form, structure 30 includes an outer, all over layer, or coating, of a high-elastomer 32 with a significant elongation capacity of about 360%, and a thickness, in the particular embodiment of the invention now being described, of about 0.1-inches. An appropriate range of thickness for layer 32 has been found to be from about 0.05-inches to about 0.25-inches. A product which works extremely well for this layer is the polyurethane elastomer product called TUFF STUFF®FR, made by Rhino Linings USA, Inc. in San Diego, Calif. Layer 32 may be created by spray fabrication on other, internal structure (next to be described) which exists in structure 30. Layer 32 forms a continuum over the outer sides of wall portions 30 a, 30 b, and over the outer side of bridging cap portion 30 c.
  • [0028]
    Progressing inwardly from outer layer 32 in outer wall portion 30 a, next included is a woven fabric plural-layer 34 made herein, for example, of three, independently woven plys of elongate aramid fibres, each about 0.01-inches thick, with these plys being suitably facially bonded to one another via any suitable thermoplastic film adhesive. In shroud 22 as it is now being described, layer 34 extends as a continuum over cap region 30 c and is included, as can clearly be seen in FIG. 5, as a part of inner wall portion 30 b. Those skilled in the art will recognize that more or less than three plys of material may be used in layer 34.
  • [0029]
    Disposed immediately inwardly of layer 34 in outer wall portion 30 a is a layer 36 formed of plural, edge-to-edge adjacent, ceramic tiles 36 a suitably attached to a backing layer 36 b (shown very darkened) which may be made of suitable woven aramid fibres. Layer 36 extends herein only as a part of outer wall portion 30 a, rising as high as possible into the outer side of cap region 30 c. Tiles 36 a herein have dimensions of 2×2×0.275-inches. Other dimensions may, of course, be selected for such tiles.
  • [0030]
    Continuing inwardly in wall portion 30 a, next encountered is a plural-layer assembly 38 (10-plies) of woven, elongate aramid fibres. This layer assembly extends from wall portion 30 a through and within cap region 30 c to merge with another, similar plural-layer woven-aramid-fibre assembly 40 (preferably about 15-plies in all) which forms part of inner wall portion 30 b, immediately inwardly of layer 34. As is the case with respect to the confronting plies in layer 34, the confronting plies in assemblies 38, 40 are facially bonded with a suitable, conventional, thermoplastic film adhesive.
  • [0031]
    Preferably, the woven fabric components employed in structure 30 are contour woven in accordance with the teachings of the two above-referred to U.S. patents to give structure 30 the compoundly curved shape illustrated in the drawings.
  • [0032]
    Shown in dashed-dot lines at 42 in FIG. 5 is one form of modification of the shroud structure described so far herein. More specifically, indicated in dash-dot lines at 42 is a modification wherein another ceramic tile layer is introduced into the structure to form part of inner wall portion 32 b, for example, immediately inwardly relative to layer assembly 40.
  • [0033]
    Another modification of the invention can involve replacing some or all of the aramid fibres mentioned above in the various woven fabrics with elongate strands of titanium which possess a brittle ceramic outer surface that transitions through a brittle/ductile internal region to a central ductile core. Each strand in such a modification might preferably have a diamond-shaped (or other selectable) cross section with relatively sharp outer, cross-sectional corners forming sharp, elongate edges in each strand. A material suitable for this purpose is extruded Tiadyne™, made by ATI Wah Chang in Albany, Oreg. To achieve the condition where this material possesses a ceramic outer surface region which transitions through a brittle/ductile region to an inner ductile core, the material is processed in an oven at a temperature of about 1700° F. in an oxidizing environment for a time period ranging from about 5-minutes to about 1-hour.
  • [0034]
    Still another modified form of the invention is shown in solid lines in FIG. 6 of the drawings, wherein the shroud structure there illustrated is nearly the same as that which was described above with reference to FIG. 1-5, inclusive, except for the fact that in this modification there is an external rather than an internal frame structure. In this modification, wall structure 30 is suitably formed to be very adequately self supporting, thus to provide, by its own structure, the required “frame” support. This can be accomplished in a number of different selectable ways, such as by employing an outside elastomer coating which is near the upper end of the thickness range described earlier herein, or through adding more material layers within the woven fibre components previously described, or both of these things.
  • [0035]
    Describing now yet another modified form of the invention, this is particularly illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8. Here what is shown is a selectively collapsible form of shroud in which frame tubes 26 (here called inflatable/deflatable components) are hollow (as shown at 26 b), are top-capped (as shown at 26 c), and have then lower ends disposed in valve-controlled fluid-communication with and inflation/exhaust, dual-channel air plenum, or manifold, 44 (see FIG. 8) provided in, or as an attachment to, base 22 a. Manifold 44 is also referred to herein as fluid conduit structure.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 8 shows shroud wall structure 30 very schematically in four different conditions: (a) with the tubes 26 fully inflated (solid line); (b) slightly collapsed (dashed line); (c) more significantly collapsed (dash-dot line); and (d) fully collapsed (dash-double-dot line). This shroud wall, in its fully collapsed condition (d) is seen to be “serpentine-folded”. The weaves employed in the various earlier-mentioned wall fabrics are designed to accommodate this fully folded/collapsed condition. A base-perimeter, outrigger trough 46 (illustrated schematically with dash-triple-dot lines) may conveniently be provided for “collection” and support of the fully collapsed shroud wall structure.
  • [0037]
    In still one further modified form of the invention, and referring back to FIG. 6 with reference to the curving dash-dot line which is shown at 43 in this figure, the entire surface of the wall structure, as well as the inside base of shroud 22, could be coated with the above-discussed elastomer TUFF STUFF®FR coating, or fluid-impervious structure, in a manner enabling it to be an inflatable/deflatable substructure without the need for also having internal, inflatable/deflatable frame tubes. Such an inside elastomeric coating, represented in FIG. 6 by line 43, could also play an appreciable role in ballistic barriering. For example it would be poised, so-to-speak, to cooperate with outer elastomer layer 32 to deal especially with obliquely striking projectiles to produce twisting and erratic tumbling of such a projectile as part of the shroud's “strategy” for providing anti-ballistic protection.
  • [0038]
    Turning attention now to FIG. 9, where still two further modifications of the invention are shown, here, frame tubes 26, disposed within the space between portions 30 a, 30 b of wall structure 30, are “augmented” with a fill of, preferably, a random and chaotic, flexible-foam-encapsulated, or entrained, jumble 46 of tiny, strandlets, or shards, of elongate strand material which is substantially the same as that described earlier herein as a ceramic-strand substitute for aramid fibres in a modified version of layer 34 and assemblies 38, 40. These sharp-edged shards might typically each have a length of about 1-inch, and a maximum cross-sectional dimension of about ⅛-inches. The entraining foam, shown fragmentarily at 48, might typically be made of any suitable polyurethane or cross-lined polypropylene material which is flexible, and the “blend” of foam and shards may be density-adjusted” to suit different specific applications.
  • [0039]
    Indicated generally at 50 in FIG. 9 is a “shard” version of this modified form of the invention where jumbled shards are not specifically encapsulated in any other material.
  • [0040]
    Such shards function among other ways, to cut and break up striking projectiles.
  • [0041]
    As can now be appreciated, the turret armor shroud of the present invention, in all illustrated and described embodiments, obviates the necessity for a vehicle-top gunner to wear cumbersome personal armor. The proposed shroud furnishes full 360° protection without interfering in any way with a gun's, or the gunner's, mobility. The shroud can be made, as those skilled in the art will appreciate, in a way where it is relatively light in weight, and it can easily be installed with many kinds of vehicles. Flexibility in the shroud provides a unique, and very effective, yield-and-return response to a ballistic impact. The shroud's fundamental fabric-based flexibility, thus, is one of the key, contributing projectile-defeating mechanisms.
  • [0042]
    Initial response by the preferred high-elastomer outer layer, coupled with fragmentation of the incorporated ceramic tiles, and aided by the resistance and load-delivery behavior of the employed aramid (or ceramic-surfaced) fibres, result in a formidable ballistic defense. Ceramic, sharp-edged strands add, where used, the additional defense of cutting projectiles into smaller pieces.
  • [0043]
    The collapsible versions of the shroud enable selective raising and lowering of it as desired. Appropriate air-flow valving can assure that a chance puncture of an inflated internal support tube (when such tubes are employed) cannot thereby cause deflation of any other support tube.
  • [0044]
    The compoundly curved shape of the shroud can easily be made utilizing, along with other fabrication techniques, the contour fabric weaving approach described in the two referenced U.S. patents. Shapes differing from those specifically illustrated and described herein can be readily made and employed. For example, the upper portion of the shroud which is opposite that from which a gun barrel extends may be constructed in various ways with a raised portion to furnish additional armor shielding of a gunner's head.
  • [0045]
    Accordingly, while preferred and modified embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated herein, other variations will certainly come to the minds of those skilled in the relevant art. It is intended that all such other variations will be recognized as coming within the scope and spirit of this invention.
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U.S. Classification89/36.13, 89/36.02, 89/903, 89/917, 89/935
International ClassificationF41H5/20
Cooperative ClassificationF41H1/00, F41H5/0478, F41H5/20, F41H7/04, F41H5/06
European ClassificationF41H5/04F2, F41H1/00, F41H5/20, F41H7/04, F41H5/06
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Aug 10, 2005ASAssignment
Effective date: 20050719