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Publication numberUS20080216640 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/043,063
Publication dateSep 11, 2008
Filing dateJan 27, 2005
Priority dateJan 27, 2005
Publication number043063, 11043063, US 2008/0216640 A1, US 2008/216640 A1, US 20080216640 A1, US 20080216640A1, US 2008216640 A1, US 2008216640A1, US-A1-20080216640, US-A1-2008216640, US2008/0216640A1, US2008/216640A1, US20080216640 A1, US20080216640A1, US2008216640 A1, US2008216640A1
InventorsJohn Brand, Thomas H. Barfield
Original AssigneeJohn Brand, Barfield Thomas H
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Lightweight rammer
US 20080216640 A1
Abstract
A lightweight rammer system and method for engaging an artillery projectile or propellant charge, wherein the rammer system comprises an internal combustion generator comprising a first firing mechanism; an actuator driven by the firing mechanism, wherein the actuator comprises a propellant combustible into a pressurized fluid; and a pressure accumulator connected to the actuator, wherein the pressure accumulator controllably releases the pressurized fluid; a ramming component connected to the internal combustion generator and powered by the pressurized fluid; and means for regenerating pressure in the pressure accumulator actuated by recoil motion of the ramming component.
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Claims(37)
1. A rammer system for engaging an artillery projectile or propellant charge, said rammer system comprising:
an internal combustion generator comprising:
a first firing mechanism;
an actuator driven by said firing mechanism, wherein said actuator comprises a propellant combustible into a pressurized fluid; and
a pressure accumulator connected to said actuator, wherein said pressure accumulator controllably releases said pressurized fluid; and
a ramming component for engaging an artillery projectile or propellant charge connected to said internal combustion generator and powered by said pressurized fluid
2. The system of claim 1, further comprising means for regenerating pressure in said pressure accumulator actuated by recoil motion of said ramming component.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein said first firing mechanism comprises any of a catalyst, a spark-generating mechanism, and a percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein said actuator comprises:
a combustion chamber configured for allowing said propellant to combust upon actuation from said first firing mechanism; and
a first rupture disc connected to said combustion chamber.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein said actuator further comprises:
at least one hole configured in said actuator and positioned between said combustion chamber and said first rupture disc;
a pressure reservoir adjacent to said first rupture disc; and
a particulate filter adjacent to said pressure reservoir.
6. The system of claim 4, wherein said actuator further comprises:
a pressure reservoir connected to said first rupture disc;
a second rupture disc;
a plurality of holes configured in said actuator and positioned between said pressure reservoir and said second rupture disc; and
a pneumatic chamber adjacent to said second rupture disc.
7. The system of claim 6, wherein said actuator further comprises a slidably mounted closure wedge connected to said pneumatic chamber.
8. The system of claim 6, wherein said actuator further comprises a particulate filter adjacent to said pneumatic chamber.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein said actuator comprises:
a combustion chamber configured for allowing said propellant to combust upon actuation from said first firing mechanism;
a second firing mechanism; and
a charge tube connecting said first firing mechanism to said second firing mechanism.
10. The system of claim 1, wherein said propellant comprises any of a solid propellant, a liquid propellant, a fluid propellant, and a combination thereof.
11. The system of claim 1, wherein said propellant comprises a liquid monopropellant and a catalyst.
12. The system of claim 1, wherein said pressure accumulator comprises:
a first orifice connected to said actuator;
a piston;
a pressure release valve;
a second orifice separated from said first orifice by said piston, wherein said second orifice being configured to have a height smaller than a height of said pressure accumulator;
a tube portion connected to said second orifice; and
a fluid release valve disposed in said tube portion.
13. The system of claim 12, further comprising a particulate filter disposed in said tube portion.
14. The system of claim 12, wherein said ramming component comprises:
a rammer chamber connected to said tube portion;
a rammer piston enclosed in a portion of said rammer chamber;
at least one bias member connecting said rammer piston to said rammer chamber;
a pressure vent disposed in said rammer chamber; and
an opening in said rammer chamber configured for allowing translation of said rammer piston therebetween.
15. The system of claim 14, wherein said ramming component further comprises a seal configured in said opening and positioned proximate to said rammer piston.
16. The system of claim 14, wherein said rammer piston comprises a generally elongated cylindrical shaft portion and a pair of generally cylindrical end portions positioned on opposite ends of said shaft portion.
17. An artillery ramming assembly comprising:
a firing mechanism;
an actuator connected to said firing mechanism, wherein said actuator comprises a propellant decomposable into a pressurized fluid;
a pressure accumulator connected to said actuator, wherein said pressure accumulator is configured for controlling a flow of said pressurized fluid; and
a rammer for engaging an artillery projectile or propellant chare connected to said pressure accumulator and powered by said pressurized fluid.
18. The assembly of claim 17, further comprising means for regenerating pressure in said pressure accumulator actuated by recoil motion of said rammer.
19. The assembly of claim 17, wherein said firing mechanism comprises any of a catalyst, a spark-generating mechanism, and a percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe.
20. The assembly of claim 17, wherein said actuator comprises:
a combustion chamber configured for allowing said propellant to combust upon actuation from said firing mechanism; and
a first rupture disc connected said combustion chamber.
21. The assembly of claim 20, wherein said actuator further comprises:
at least one hole configured in said actuator and positioned between said combustion chamber and said first rupture disc;
a pressure reservoir adjacent to said first rupture disc; and
a particulate filter adjacent to said pressure reservoir.
22. The assembly of claim 20, wherein said actuator further comprises:
a pressure reservoir connected to said first rupture disc;
a second rupture disc;
a plurality of holes configured in said actuator and positioned between said pressure reservoir and said second rupture disc; and
a pneumatic chamber adjacent to said second rupture disc.
23. The assembly of claim 22, wherein said actuator further comprises a slidably mounted closure wedge connected to said pneumatic chamber.
24. The assembly of claim 22, wherein said actuator further comprises a particulate filter adjacent to said pneumatic chamber.
25. The assembly of claim 17, wherein said actuator comprises:
a combustion chamber configured for allowing said propellant to combust upon actuation from said firing mechanism;
a charge-triggering mechanism; and
a charge tube connecting said firing mechanism to said charge-triggering mechanism.
26. The assembly of claim 17, wherein said propellant comprises any of a solid propellant, a liquid propellant, a fluid propellant, and a combination thereof.
27. The assembly of claim 17, wherein said propellant comprises a monopropellant comprising a liquid monopropellant and a catalyst.
28. The assembly of claim 17, wherein said pressure accumulator comprises:
a first orifice connected to said actuator;
a piston;
a pressure release valve;
a second orifice separated from said first orifice by said piston, wherein said second orifice being configured to have a height smaller than a height of said pressure accumulator;
a tube portion connected to said second orifice; and
a fluid release valve disposed in said tube portion.
29. The assembly of claim 28, further comprising a particulate filter disposed in said tube portion.
30. The assembly of claim 28, wherein said rammer comprises:
a rammer chamber connected to said tube portion;
a rammer piston enclosed in a portion of said rammer chamber;
at least one bias member connecting said rammer piston to said rammer chamber;
a pressure vent disposed in said rammer chamber; and
an opening in said rammer chamber configured for allowing translation of said rammer piston therebetween.
31. The assembly of claim 30, wherein said rammer further comprises a seal configured in said opening and positioned proximate to said rammer piston.
32. The assembly of claim 30, wherein said rammer piston comprises a generally elongated cylindrical shaft portion and a pair of generally cylindrical end portions positioned on opposite ends of said shaft portion.
33. An artillery ramming system comprising:
means for triggering combustion of a combustible propellant into a fluid;
means for pressurizing said fluid;
means for controlling a flow of the pressurized fluid;
means, powered by said pressurized fluid, for ramming any of an artillery projectile and propellant charge; and
means, actuated by recoil motion of said means for ramming, for regenerating pressure in said artillery ramming system.
34. A method of ramming an artillery or propellant charge, said method comprising:
triggering combustion of a combustible propellant into a fluid;
pressurizing said fluid into a pressure vessel;
controlling a flow of the pressurized fluid in a pressure accumulator;
ramming any of an artillery projectile and propellant charge using a rammer driven by power generated by said pressurized fluid; and
regenerating pressure in said pressure accumulator using recoil motion of said rammer.
35. The method of claim 34, wherein said triggering occurs using a firing mechanism comprising any of a catalyst, a spark-generating mechanism, and a percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe.
36. The method of claim 34, wherein said triggering, said combustible propellant comprises any of a solid propellant, a liquid propellant, a fluid propellant, and a combination thereof
37. The method of claim 34, wherein in said triggering, said combustible propellant comprises a liquid monopropellant and a catalyst.
Description
GOVERNMENT INTEREST

The invention described herein may be manufactured, used, and/or licensed by or for the United States Government.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention generally relates to rammers used for artillery projectiles, and more particularly to a self-powered rammer for engaging artillery projectiles or propellant charges.

2. Description of the Related Art

Projectiles, and when separate from projectiles, the propellant charges, must be thrust far enough into the tube of an artillery piece for proper loading. In some instances, in order to properly load a projectile, man-powered rammers are used. In other instances, artillery with auxiliary power such as the South African G-5 may be used to power the rammers. The former Soviet 2A36 and 2A65 towed artillery pieces use a rammer. The rammer and breech of the 2A36 are operated from a hydraulic reservoir charged by recoil, but until the first shot, the rammer for the 2A36 is initially manually operated. The rammer for the 2A65 uses a spring assisted mechanism. However, these types of towed artillery pieces are extremely heavy, and may not be suitable for air transport.

Self-propelled artillery uses powered rammers which are hydraulically actuated. Typically, hydraulic power is used in order to satisfy the requirement for a very rapid exertion of force with a very high force at the same time that the actuating devices are moving at a high speed. Electric motors exert a maximum torque at zero speed with the torque falling off as the motor speed increases. This phenomenon is generally unavoidable due to the generation of counter electromagnetic forces caused by a turning motor as verified by Lenz' law. Internal combustion engines cannot cease to turn without stopping completely (stalling), which requires clutches or hydro-pumped transmissions to exert intermittent forces. However, these additional components tend to add extra weight and complexity to the system.

Furthermore, in the past, some heavy naval turret artillery used steam powered rammers. Here, steam from the ship's boilers was used to power the rammers. However, these components tended to be quite heavy and fuel intensive. Therefore, there remains a need for a lightweight self-propelled rammer which does not require heavy sub-components or power sources or laborious and slow manual pumping to propel the rammer for engaging an artillery projectile or propellant charge.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, an embodiment of the invention provides a rammer system and an artillery ramming assembly for engaging an artillery projectile or propellant charge, wherein the rammer system comprises an internal combustion generator comprising a first firing mechanism; an actuator driven by the firing mechanism, wherein the actuator comprises a propellant combustible or decomposable into a pressurized fluid; and a pressure accumulator connected to the actuator, wherein the pressure accumulator controllably releases the pressurized fluid; a ramming component connected to the internal combustion generator and powered by the pressurized fluid; and means for regenerating pressure in the pressure accumulator actuated by recoil motion of the ramming component.

According to the invention, the first firing mechanism comprises any of a catalyst, a spark-generating mechanism, and a percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe. In one embodiment, the actuator comprises a combustion chamber configured for allowing the propellant to combust upon actuation from the first firing mechanism; and a first rupture disc connected to the combustion chamber, wherein the actuator further comprises at least one hole configured in the actuator and positioned between the combustion chamber and the first rupture disc; a pressure reservoir adjacent to the first rupture disc; and a particulate filter adjacent to the pressure reservoir.

In an another embodiment, the actuator further comprises a pressure reservoir connected to the first rupture disc; a second rupture disc; a plurality of holes configured in the actuator and positioned between the pressure reservoir and the second rupture disc; and a pneumatic chamber adjacent to the second rupture disc. The actuator further comprises a slidably mounted closure wedge connected to the pneumatic chamber. Additionally, in one aspect of the invention, the actuator further comprises a particulate filter adjacent to the pneumatic chamber. In another aspect of the invention, the actuator comprises a combustion chamber configured for allowing the propellant to combust upon actuation from the first firing mechanism; a second firing mechanism; and a charge tube connecting the first firing mechanism to the second firing mechanism.

Moreover, the propellant comprises any of a solid propellant, a liquid propellant, a fluid propellant, and a combination thereof. Also, according to another embodiment, the propellant comprises a monopropellant mixture comprising a liquid monopropellant and a catalyst. The pressure accumulator comprises a first orifice connected to the actuator; a piston; a pressure release valve; a second orifice separated from the first orifice by the piston, wherein the second orifice being configured to have a height smaller than a height of the pressure accumulator; a tube portion connected to the second orifice; and a fluid release valve disposed in the tube portion. The system further comprises a particulate filter disposed in the tube portion.

Furthermore, the ramming component comprises a rammer chamber connected to the tube portion; a rammer piston enclosed in a portion of the rammer chamber; at least one bias member connecting the rammer piston to the rammer chamber; a pressure vent disposed in the rammer chamber; and an opening in the rammer chamber configured for allowing translation of the rammer piston therebetween, wherein the ramming component further comprises a seal configured in the opening and positioned proximate to the rammer piston. Additionally, the rammer piston comprises a generally elongated cylindrical shaft portion and a pair of generally cylindrical end portions positioned on opposite ends of the shaft portion.

Another embodiment of the invention provides an artillery ramming system comprising means for triggering combustion of a combustible propellant into a fluid; means for pressurizing the fluid; means for controlling a flow of the pressurized fluid; means, powered by the pressurized fluid, for ramming any of an artillery projectile and propellant charge; and means, actuated by recoil motion of the means for ramming, for regenerating pressure in the artillery ramming system.

Another aspect of the invention provides a method of ramming an artillery projectile or propellant charge, wherein the method comprises triggering combustion of a combustible propellant into a fluid; pressurizing the fluid in a pressure vessel; controlling a flow of the pressurized fluid in a pressure accumulator; ramming any of an artillery projectile and propellant charge using a rammer driven by power generated by the pressurized fluid; and regenerating pressure in the pressure accumulator using recoil motion of the rammer, wherein the triggering occurs using a firing mechanism comprising any of a catalyst, a spark-generating mechanism, and a percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe, wherein in the step of triggering, the combustible propellant comprises any of a solid propellant, a liquid propellant, a fluid propellant, and a combination thereof, and wherein the combustible propellant comprises a monopropellant mixture comprising a liquid monopropellant and a catalyst.

The embodiments of the invention provide a rammer system that is sufficiently lightweight to be dismountable and transported separately from other artillery pieces to save weight when sling loading, if necessary. Because there are no hydraulic reservoirs or motors on the rammer system, the rammer system could slip over studs on the carriage of a gun, perhaps engaging the recoil mass by a pad, could be removable, and could be lifted by as few as two crewmen. Other advantages afforded by the embodiments of the invention are increased speed, reduced fatigue, reduced heat stress when wearing chemical protective gear, especially overgarments, reduced personnel requirements, and increased safety.

These and other aspects of the embodiments of the invention will be better appreciated and understood when considered in conjunction with the following description and the accompanying drawings. It should be understood, however, that the following descriptions, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention and numerous specific details thereof, are given by way of illustration and not of limitation. Many changes and modifications may be made within the scope of the embodiments of the invention without departing from the spirit thereof, and the embodiments of the invention include all such modifications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The embodiments of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description with reference to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional schematic diagram of a rammer system according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional schematic diagram of a rammer system according to a second embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional schematic diagram of a rammer system according to a third embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 4 through 7 are cross-sectional schematic diagrams of a regeneration rammer system during successive stages of operation according to a fourth embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8( a) is an isolated view of the actuator component of FIGS. 1 through 7 according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8( b) is an isolated view of the actuator component of FIGS. 1 through 7 according to a second embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8( c) is an isolated view of the actuator component of FIGS. 1 through 7 according to a third embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8( d) is an isolated view of the actuator component of FIGS. 1 through 7 according to a fourth embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8( e) is an isolated view of the actuator component of FIGS. 1 through 7 according to a fifth embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 9 is a flow diagram illustrating a preferred method of an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The embodiments of the invention and the various features and advantageous details thereof are explained more fully with reference to the non-limiting embodiments that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings and detailed in the following description. It should be noted that the features illustrated in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale. Descriptions of well-known components and processing techniques are omitted so as to not unnecessarily obscure the embodiments of the invention. The examples used herein are intended merely to facilitate an understanding of ways in which the embodiments of the invention may be practiced and to further enable those of skill in the art to practice the embodiments of the invention. Accordingly, the examples should not be construed as limiting the scope of the embodiments of the invention.

As previously mentioned, there remains a need for a lightweight self-powered rammer which does not require heavy sub-components or power sources or laborious and slow manual pumping to propel the rammer for engaging an artillery projectile or propellant charge (such as gunpowder). The embodiments of the invention achieve this by using a gas generator producing high pressure gas, which acts directly or through a floating piston on another piston that performs the motions of ramming the artillery. Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGS. 1 through 9, there are shown preferred embodiments of the invention.

According to the embodiments of the invention, the rammer system operates by use of a pressure accumulator 19 for the loading of each shot (illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 3), or by initial pressurization of the actuator component 14, and then regeneration of the pressure by harnessing the recoil motion of the gun (illustrated in FIGS. 4 through 7). The merit of regeneration is the decrease in the consumables used (the gas generators for the subsequent rounds), and the merit of the loading of each shot is the exchange of use of lightweight gas generators instead of heavier regeneration components. Depending on the design goal of the gun designer, weight may be profitably traded off versus consumables. Another merit of the use of regeneration with pressurization immediately prior to ramming is that much of the pressure from the actuator component 14 will initially be derived from the temperature of the gas contained therein. If the gas is allowed to sit quiescently between shots, the temperature and, hence, pressure may drop below the requisite for ramming. As such, venting of the pressure accumulator 19 and subsequent re-pressurization from a new actuator component 14 may be desirable.

FIG. 1 illustrates an open cycle rammer system 1 according to a first embodiment of the invention, whereby the open cycle rammer system 1 utilizes a source of working pressure and preferably uses an actuating fluid (gas or liquid) 22, but does not require external power supplies, motors, etc. Generally, the rammer system 1 comprises an internal combustion or monopropellant generator component 2 connected to a ramming component 3. More particularly, the rammer system 1 comprises an outer casing 24 which houses several sub-components. These sub-components include a firing mechanism 5, which is preferably embodied as a primer, catalyst, spark, or percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe.

The firing mechanism 5 engages a breech closure 12, which is preferably embodied as a horizontally guided sliding wedge. The breech closure 12 connects to a first side of an actuator component 14, wherein the actuator component 14 is embodied as a combustion chamber, a propellant cartridge, or a pressure vessel. The rammer system 1 includes a pressure accumulator 19 on a second side of the actuator component 14, wherein the pressure accumulator 19 generally includes buffered space 16 configured for allowing variable pressure inside the pressure accumulator 19. The pressure accumulator 19 is particularly useful for metering rapidly produced high pressure gas 60 (shown in FIGS. 4 through 7) formed in the actuator component 14, wherein the high pressure gas 60 generally fills the area afforded by the buffered space 16 in the pressure accumulator 19. For simplicity, FIG. 1 does not illustrate the high pressure gas 60 in order to not unnecessarily obscure the other visible components of the rammer system 1. Furthermore, the pressure accumulator 19 is desirable for separately loading ammunition where two rammer strokes are required. A vent 21 connecting to a valve 20 is connected to the pressure accumulator 19 to help release accumulated pressure within the pressure accumulator 19.

A piston 18, which may be embodied as a floating piston or a spring-loaded piston, is aligned in the pressure accumulator 19 to help drive the actuating fluid 22 located in the pressure accumulator 19. The gas 60 generated in the actuator component 14 and pressurized in the pressure accumulator 19 drives the piston 18, which then drives the actuating fluid 22 (best seen in FIG. 4). In a spring-loaded embodiment, the piston 18 may use a spring (not shown) or a compressible gas 60, wherein the initializing gas 60 may act as the spring. The compression of piston 18 can be used to pressurize the actuating fluid 22 in the pressure accumulator 19. The generator component 2 may vent gas 60 (using vent 21) to aid in relieving some of the accumulated pressure in the pressure accumulator 19. This avoids contaminating the ramming component 3 with debris resulting from the firing of the firing mechanism 5 because the venting through vent 21 occurs separately from the venting through vent 23 of the ramming component 3 of the rammer system 1. Thus, pressurized gaseous matter from the compressible gas 60 and excess actuating fluid 22 is prevented from entering the ramming component 3.

The actuating fluid 22 is driven from the pressure accumulator 19 through an opening leading to a tube 17, which is configured narrower than the pressure accumulator 19, thereby creating a zone of increased pressure within the tube 17 compared with the pressure accumulator 19. That is, the height of the tube 17 (and opening leading to the tube 17) is smaller than the height of the pressure accumulator 19.

The pressure in the tube 17 is further controlled by a valve 26 connected to the tube 17. The actuating fluid 22, upon exiting the end of the tube 17, enters a rammer chamber 15 and engages a rammer 28. The rammer 28 is generally configured in an elongated “H” or rotated “I” configuration, however those skilled in the art would readily understand incorporating any functional configuration for the rammer 28.

Preferably, the rammer 28 comprises a pair of generally upright cylindrical ends 38, 39 connected by a cylindrical rammer piston 35 therebetween. A first surface 11 of a first upright end 38 contacts the actuating fluid 22 which exits the tube 17. A second surface 13 of the first upright end 38, which is on an opposite side of the first upright end 38 from the first surface 11, engages a pair of bias elements 30 such as springs which could be further embodied as pneumatic recovery springs or hydro springs.

The bias elements 30 are positioned between the second surface 13 of the first upright end 38 of the rammer 28 and the back wall 9 of the rammer chamber 15. The rammer chamber 15 further comprises a vent 23 connecting to a valve 32 to help release accumulated pressure within the rammer chamber 15 caused by the pressure exerted on the rammer 28 by the actuating fluid 22. However, the vent 23 is not utilized or is not configured in the rammer chamber 15 at all if the bias elements 30 are embodied as pneumatic recovery springs or hydro springs.

An opening is configured in the outer casing 24 of the rammer chamber 15 configured for allowing the rammer piston 35 to translate back and forth. Additionally, dust seals 8 are positioned on the back end 7 of the rammer chamber 15 such that the dust seals 8 are configured around the rammer piston 35. Moreover, a portion of the rammer piston 35 along with the second upright end 39 of the rammer 28 is located outside the rammer chamber 15. The second upright end 39 engages an artillery projectile or propellant charge 34 set on a loading tray 36.

FIG. 2 illustrates a second embodiment of an open cycle rammer assembly 10 with the direct action of propellant gases. The rammer assembly 10 is similarly configured to the open cycle rammer system 1 shown in FIG. 1, and as such like reference numerals in FIGS. 1 and 2 correspond to like components in both schematics. Generally, the rammer assembly 10 comprises an outer casing 24 which houses several sub-components. These sub-components include a firing mechanism 5, which is preferably embodied as a primer, spark, or percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe.

The firing mechanism 5 connects to a breech closure 12, which is preferably embodied as a horizontally guided sliding wedge. The breech closure 12 connects to a first side of an actuator component 14 embodied as a combustion chamber, a propellant cartridge, or a pressure vessel. On a second side of the actuator component 14 the rammer assembly 10 includes a pressure accumulator 19 which holds the actuating fluid 22. A vent 21 connecting to a valve 20 is connected to the pressure accumulator 19 to help release accumulated pressure (caused by actuation of the actuating fluid 22 upon firing of the firing mechanism 5) within the pressure accumulator 19.

The actuating fluid 22 which may be embodied as a propellant gas is located in the pressure accumulator 19. The actuating fluid 22 is driven from the pressure accumulator 19 and into a tube 17, which is configured narrower than the pressure accumulator 19, thereby creating a zone of increased pressure within the tube 17 compared with the pressure accumulator 19. One difference between the open cycle rammer assembly 10 shown in FIG. 2 and the open cycle rammer system 1 shown in FIG. 1 is that the rammer assembly 10 further comprises an optional particulate filter 37 positioned in the tube 17, wherein the particulate filter 37 may include a removable and replaceable filter having a porous throttling medium 27 that filters particulates in the actuating fluid 22. For gas generator grains that produce debris, the particulate filter 37 is particularly useful for preventing the debris from clogging the ramming component 3.

The pressure in the tube 17 is further controlled by a valve 26 connected to the tube 17. The actuating fluid 22 upon exiting the end of the tube 17 enters the rammer chamber 15 and engages a rammer 28. The remaining components of rammer assembly 10 are identical to similar components in rammer system 1 as described above.

FIG. 3 illustrates a third embodiment of the invention which shows an open cycle rammer system 25. The rammer system 25 is similarly configured to the open cycle rammer system 1 shown in FIG. 1 and the rammer assembly shown in FIG. 2, and as such like reference numerals in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3 correspond to like components in each schematic. The principal difference between the third embodiment and each of the first and second embodiments is that the third embodiment does not include a tube 17, but rather the pressure accumulator 19 effectively joins with the rammer chamber 15 (as such rammer chamber 15 is not specifically labeled in FIG. 3).

FIGS. 4 through 7 illustrate successive stages of operation of a rammer system 31 according to a fourth embodiment of the invention, which utilizes a regeneration piston 48 to regenerate the actuating fluid 22. Regeneration is accomplished through action of the regeneration piston 48 driven by the recoil motion of the recoiling parts (gun tube, breech, and cradle, collectively, the recoil mass 50) compressing the actuating fluid 22 vented from the rammer chamber 15 in retraction of the rammer piston 35. Generally, as shown in FIG. 4, high pressured gas 60 enters the pressure accumulator 19 from the actuator component 14 via a check valve 33 that separates the actuator component 14 from the pressure accumulator 19. The rammer system 31 further includes a second check valve 40 configured in the inner wall of the pressure accumulator 19, which connects to a regeneration cylinder 42 via a regeneration cylinder exit tube 41. The check valve 40 shown in FIG. 4 is closed to prevent the actuating fluid 22 from entering the regeneration cylinder exit tube 41.

The regeneration cylinder 42 further comprises an inner chamber 43 that houses a regeneration piston 48. The regeneration piston 48 is generally “T” shaped, although any functional configuration could be used. Preferably, the regeneration piston 48 is configured with a generally upright cylindrical end 46, which comprises a first surface 51 and a second surface 49, which is on an opposite side of the upright cylindrical end 46 from the first surface 51. The second surface 49 engages a pair of bias elements 47 such as springs which could be further embodied as pneumatic recovery springs or hydro springs. The bias elements 47 are positioned between the second surface 49 of the upright cylindrical end 46 and the inner back wall 52 of the regeneration cylinder 42. Furthermore, a regeneration cylinder entry tube 44 comprising a valve 45 is positioned between the regeneration cylinder 42 and the rammer chamber 15.

Next, as illustrated in FIG. 5, the check valve 33 connecting the actuator component 14 with the pressure accumulator 19 is closed as is the check valve 40 connecting the pressure accumulator 19 to the regeneration cylinder exit tube 41. The high pressure gas 60 pushes the piston 18, which then pushes the actuating fluid 22 through the tube 17 and into the rammer chamber 15 with the valve 26 opened to accommodate the entry of the actuating fluid 22 into the rammer chamber 15. As the actuating fluid 22 enters the rammer chamber 15 it engages the first surface 11 of the rammer 28, which actuates the rammer piston 35 causing the rammer piston 35 to translate toward and engage the projectile or propellant charge 34 on the loading tray 36. As the rammer piston 35 moves toward the projectile or propellant charge 34, the bias elements 30 are compressed between the second surface 13 of the first upright end 38 of the rammer 28 and the back wall 9 of the rammer chamber 15. Some of the actuating fluid 22 may enter the regeneration cylinder entry tube 44. However, the valve 45 in the regeneration cylinder entry tube 44 is closed thereby preventing the actuating fluid 22 from entering the inner chamber 43 of the regeneration cylinder 42.

Then, as depicted in FIG. 6, after the second upright end 39 of the rammer 28 engages an artillery projectile or propellant charge 34, the bias elements 30 are released from their compressed state, thereby translating the rammer piston 35 towards tube 17, which pushes the actuating fluid 22 into the inner chamber 43 of the regeneration cylinder 42. In other words, the rammer piston 35 retracts, thereby displacing the actuating fluid 22 from the rammer chamber 15 into the regeneration cylinder 42. This is further accomplished by closing the valve 26 in tube 17 and opening the valve 45 in the regeneration cylinder entry tube 44. That is, the valve 26 between the pressure accumulator 19 and rammer chamber 15 is closed to prevent the actuating fluid 22 from re-entering the pressure accumulator 19, and the valve 45 from the rammer chamber 15 to the regeneration cylinder 42 is opened. Some of the actuating fluid 22 may enter the regeneration cylinder exit tube 41. However, with the check valve 40 closed, the actuating fluid 22 is prevented from entering the pressure accumulator 19. Furthermore, as the actuating fluid 22 enters the inner chamber 43 of the regeneration cylinder 42, the actuating fluid 22 engages the first surface 51 of the upright cylindrical end 46 of the regeneration piston 48, thereby causing the regeneration piston 48 to translate in a direction towards the recoil mass 50, and further causing compression of the bias elements 47 positioned between the second surface 49 of the upright cylindrical end 46 and the inner back wall 52 of the regeneration cylinder 42.

FIG. 7 illustrates the next sequence in the regeneration process, wherein recoil motion of the gun/cannon (not shown) causes the recoil mass 50 to force the regeneration piston 48 in a direction opposite to the recoil mass 50, thereby releasing the compressed bias elements 47 and pushing the actuating fluid 22 into the regeneration cylinder exit tube 41. As such, when the pressure is sufficiently high, the actuating fluid 22 is forced from the regeneration cylinder 42 back into the pressure accumulator 19 via the open check valve 40. The valve 45 in the regeneration cylinder entry tube 44 as well as the valve 26 in the tube 17 is closed to prevent the actuating fluid from re-entering the rammer chamber 15. The regeneration process is generally complete at this point, and the rammer system 31 is now set to begin the ramming process again (i.e., the sequence repeats as illustrated in FIGS. 4-7).

FIGS. 8( a) through 8(e) illustrate various embodiments of the actuator component 14, wherein reference to like numerals correspond to like elements. According to a first embodiment illustrated in FIG. 8( a), the actuator component 14 comprises a casing 140 comprising a combustion chamber 142 configured for housing a solid propellant 141, such as granulated or propellant grain. Additionally, a pair of flanges 146 forms opposite ends of a front wall 143 of the casing 140. The front wall 143 connects to the back portion of the breech closure 12 illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. As such, the firing mechanism 5 is formed in the front wall 143, wherein the firing mechanism 5 is preferably embodied as an electric or percussion primer configured for initiating a charge or spark to the solid propellant 141.

Furthermore, configured in the casing 140 opposite the front wall 143 is a plurality of holes 148, which lead to a perforated disc 150 to retain a high pressure to provide for stable burning of the solid propellant 141. The holes 148 may also be embodied as a porous material. The perforated disc 150 may be a rupture disc and can be configured in any geometry that retains gas pressure but that also allows for free venting of reduced pressure gas. A pressure reservoir 153 is positioned adjacent to the perforated disc 150, which then connects to a particulate filter 152 that connects to a portion of the casing 140.

In a second embodiment shown in FIG. 8( b), the actuator component 14 comprises a casing 140 comprising a combustion chamber 142 configured for housing a liquid propellant 145, such as a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (HAN) slurry in water. As with the first embodiment, a pair of flanges 146 form opposite ends of a front wall 143 of the casing 140 with a firing mechanism 5 also formed in the front wall 143. Configured in the casing 140 opposite the front wall 143 is a rupture disc 154, which leads to a pressure reservoir 156, which is preferably embodied as a perforated cylinder configured to retain a high pressure to allow for stable reaction of the liquid propellant 145. A plurality of holes 160 is disposed on diametrically opposite sides of the pressure reservoir 156, which lead to cylindrical rupture barriers 158, which then lead to a pneumatic chamber 168. A particulate filter 162 is further attached to the casing 140 and positioned spaced apart from the pressure reservoir 156 with the pneumatic chamber 168 positioned therebetween.

FIG. 8( c) illustrates a third embodiment of the actuator component 14. Structurally, the third embodiment is similar to the second embodiment except that in lieu of a particulate filter 162 as provided in the second embodiment, the third embodiment includes a slidably mounted closure wedge 164 serving as a mechanical membrane barrier for the actuator component 14 to prevent dirt from entering the actuator component 14. Another difference between the third embodiment and the second embodiment is that in the third embodiment the propellant is a monopropellant mixture 147 comprising a liquid monopropellant such as hydrogen peroxide or hydrazine plus a decomposition catalyst. The monopropellant mixture 147 (liquid monopropellant and catalyst) are separated by barrier capsules 165 ruptured by the pressure of the firing mechanism 5.

The geometry of the monopropellant mixture 147 is dependent on the choice of materials. For example, H2O2 may be confined in a barrier capsule 165 next to the firing mechanism 5. Once the firing mechanism 5 ruptures the barrier capsule 165, the H2O2 floods the combustion chamber 142 comprising granulated manganese dioxide or potassium permanganate. The concentrated H2O2 then decomposes into steam. Thereafter, the rupture disc 154 breaks allowing the gas to flood the pressure reservoir 156.

In a fourth embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 8( d), the actuator component 14 is structurally similar to the third embodiment, except the propellant comprises a hybrid propellant 149 such as an augmentation of gas volume/pressure by a phase change, or a burning flammable gas/oxidizer. Use of a phase change material may allow a greater increase in volume of gas from the generator component 2 by trading temperature of the fluid for an increase in gas volume by flashing a liquid into a gas. An example is microspheres or microbeads of water turning into steam. This reduces the temperature of the pressurizing gas from the gas generator component 2 but increases the volume and pressure of the gas by transforming a low volume liquid into a high volume gas. Another example is liquid H2O2 decomposing into H2O steam and O2. The O2 can then be used to react with a fuel releasing heat and hence increase pressure for a given weight of reactant.

Thus, in the example above the gas generating material may include a solid propellant mixed with a first capsule or microbead 166 comprising a phase change material such as water or fuel such as hydrocarbon or plastic, and is mixed with a second capsule or microbead 167 comprising an oxidizer. In the latter case, the goal is deflagration (burning) rather than detonation, which is an explosive process involving a shock wave. If an engine detonates (pings) it loses power, whereas steady burning produces the most power. The pressurizing fluid passes through the rupture disc 154 by rupturing it, and by going through the closure wedge 164 because the wedge material is porous with hole sizes too small for dirt.

According to a fifth embodiment, the actuator component 14, as shown in FIG. 8( e), comprises a casing 140 that includes a combustion chamber 142 configured for housing a gas propellant 151, which is under high pressure. As with the previous embodiments, a pair of flanges 146 forms opposite ends of a front wall 143 of the casing 140. In the fifth embodiment, a pair of firing mechanisms 5, 144 is formed on opposite walls (front wall 143 and back wall 155) of the casing 140, wherein the firing mechanisms 5, 144 are preferably embodied as electric or percussion primers configured for initiating a charge to the gas propellant 151. A charge tube 169 further connects the two firing mechanisms 5 to one another. Additionally, the firing mechanisms 5, 144 in the fifth embodiment are configured for allowing venting of the high pressure gas resulting from the charge to the gas propellant 151. The venting occurs through gaps (not shown) created in locations occupied by the firing mechanism 5, 144. That is, the initiation of the firing mechanisms 5, 144 essentially blows out the firing mechanism 5, 144 thereby creating gaps (not shown) in the casing 140 to allow for venting.

During operation, the gun crew inserts an initializing actuator component 14 such as a gas generating cartridge into position and closes the breech closure 12. The actuator component 14 may comprise black powder, smokeless powder, a gas generating compound such as solid rocket fuel, a monopropellant such as hydrazine or hydrogen peroxide, or even compressed gas. If any combustible gas generating material is included in the actuator component 14, then the gas generating material is ignited by a percussion or electrical squib using the firing mechanism 5. If the actuator component 14 includes a monopropellant, then the monopropellant is released onto a catalyzing bed by a squib activated perforated disc 150 (shown in FIG. 8( a)) such as a rupture disc or power or manual valve. If the combustible material requires high pressure for stable burning, such as a liquid propellant such as hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (HAN) or gunpowder, the actuator component 14 may be embodied as a small combustion chamber 142 sealed off by a perforated disc 150 such as a rupture disc activated by pressure, which covers a throttling hole or holes 148 as shown in FIG. 8( a).

When the crew is ready to ram the projectile or propellant charge 34 they place the projectile or propellant charge 34 in the loading tray 36 by mechanical or manual means, and then open the valve 26 from the pressure accumulator 19 to the rammer chamber 15, allowing the actuating fluid 22 to compress the rammer piston 35, which pushes the projectile or propellant charge 34 into the gun/cannon chamber (not shown).

Once the projectile or propellant charge 34 is properly seated, the rammer piston 35 retracts. The retracting rammer piston 35 pushes the actuating fluid 22 out of the rammer chamber 15 which further actuates the rammer piston 35. The actuating fluid 22 may be vented to atmosphere or vented to the regeneration cylinder 42 as shown in FIGS. 4 through 7. Venting to atmosphere is the lowest weight option, but the actuating fluid 22 must then be replenished after each shot.

If the round is separately loaded, the projectile or propellant charge 34 is placed in the loading tray 36 and the actuating fluid 22 is allowed to act on the rammer piston 35 again, ramming the projectile or propellant charge 34 into the chamber (not shown). The rammer piston 35 is retracted and the gun breech (not shown) is closed. When ready, the crew fires the gun/cannon (not shown), which recoils within its cradle shown as recoil mass 50. The recoil motion may actuate the regeneration piston 48 to compress the actuating fluid 22 back into the pressure accumulator 19 (regeneration) as shown in FIGS. 4 through 7. If the actuating fluid 22 is air, it may be vented and a new supply of air is then compressed into the pressure accumulator 19.

FIG. 9 (in accordance with the embodiments and components shown in FIGS. 1 though 8(e)) illustrates a method of ramming an artillery projectile or propellant charge 34 according to an aspect of the invention, wherein the method comprises triggering (201) combustion of a combustible propellant 141, 145, 147, 149, 151 into an actuating fluid 22. Next, the method involves pressurizing (203) the actuating fluid 22 in an actuator component (such as a pressure vessel) 14 and controlling (205) a flow of the pressurized fluid 22 in a pressure accumulator 19. Thereafter, the invention involves ramming (207) any of an artillery projectile and propellant charge 34 using a rammer 28 driven by power generated by the pressurized fluid 22, and regenerating (209) pressure in the pressure accumulator 19 using recoil motion of the rammer 28.

The triggering (201) occurs using a firing mechanism 5 comprising any of a catalyst, spark-generating mechanism, and a percussion or electric initiation-firing pin or probe. Additionally, the combustible propellant comprises any of a solid propellant 141, a liquid propellant 145, a gas propellant 151, and a combination thereof (hybrid propellant) 149. Alternatively, the combustible propellant comprises a monopropellant mixture 147 comprising a liquid monopropellant and a catalyst.

Generally, the invention uses a gas generator component 2 configured for powering a ramming component 3 of an artillery rammer system 1. More specifically, the gas generator component 2 produces a source of high pressure gas, which may, if desired, act through a pressure accumulator 19 on a rammer 28 to effectuate the ramming sequence. For gas generator grains that produce debris, particulate filters 37 may be incorporated if needed. The gas generator component 2 may use either pyrotechnics or propellants 141, 145, 149, or produce either gas (gas propellant 151) alone or gas and steam through the decomposition of a monopropellant mixture 147 such as hydrogen peroxide or hydrazine.

Moreover, gas generation by artillery propellants 141, 145, 147, 149, 151 require high pressure for stable burning. The required pressure can be attained for small quantities of propellant 141, 145, 147, 149, 151 through use of the high-low process. In this process, used for example in a 40 mm grenade launcher, a quantity of propellant 141, 145, 147, 149, 151 is burned in a low volume, thick walled actuator component 14, which is vented through a small hole 148 that is closed by a rupture or perforated disc 150. The perforated disc 150 breaks and vents the gases once the proper pressure has been reached.

Several embodiments for the lightweight actuator component 14 exist. The propellants can be either single, double, or triple base solid propellants 141, or liquid propellants 145 being developed for the next generation of artillery systems. The liquid propellant systems use materials such as HAN (hydroxyl ammonium nitrate in water).

According to the embodiments of the invention, the rammer system 1 includes lightweight components actuated by gases produced by a pyrotechnic device such as a cake of a grain of propellant 141, a liquid propellant 145, a quantity of a monopropellant mixture 147, a gas propellant 151, or a hybrid propellant 149. The actuator component 14 is embodied as a pneumatic device and is open cycle. Advantages of the embodiments of the invention over conventional rammer systems are the reduced weight, reduced cost, and overall simplicity in design afforded by the embodiments of the invention.

Again, artillery with auxiliary power such as the South African G-5 may be used to power the rammers. The former Soviet 2A36 and 2A65 towed artillery pieces use a rammer. The rammer and breech of the 2A36 are operated from a hydraulic reservoir charged by recoil, but until the first shot, the rammer for the 2A36 is initially manually operated. The rammer for the 2A65 uses a spring assisted mechanism. As mentioned, these types of towed artillery pieces are extremely heavy, and may not be suitable for air transport. With regard to the reduced weight afforded by the embodiments of the invention, the actuator component 14 and pressure accumulator 19 are lighter in weight than an auxiliary power unit (APU), a hydraulic pump, and an accumulator as used in conventional ramming systems such as the man-powered South African G-5, or a hydropneumatic accumulator found in the conventional former Soviet 2A36 system, or the spring-assisted components of the conventional former Soviet 2A65 system.

Moreover, the consumable propellants 141, 145, 147, 149, 151 are also lightweight, and the nontoxic monopropellant mixture 147 exhausts steam and oxygen from the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide or gases from liquid artillery propellants, which then may be vented at low pressure. According to the embodiments of the invention, regeneration saves consumables propellants, and using a gas generator on each loading saves weight mounted on the gun at the expense of consumables propellants.

The embodiments of the invention provide a rammer system 1 that is sufficiently lightweight to be dismountable and transported separately from other artillery pieces to save weight when sling loading, if necessary. Because there are no hydraulic reservoirs or motors on the rammer system 1, the rammer system 1 could slip over studs on the carriage of the gun, perhaps engaging the recoiling mass by a pad, could be removable, and could be lifted by as few as two crewmen.

Other advantages afforded by the embodiments of the invention are increased speed, reduced fatigue, reduced heat stress when wearing chemical protective gear, especially overgarments, reduced personnel requirements, and increased safety. With regard to speed, the projectile or propellant charge 34 may be placed on the loading tray 36 and immediately rammed. The process and time for fitting a ram staff on the item to be rammed, getting the crew ready, and ramming, are reduced to the setting of a control.

With regard to reduced fatigue, a 155 mm projectile M107 High Explosive weighs approximately 95 pounds. Ramming a 95 pound projectile up an 85 degree slope (maximum elevation) hard enough to seat the projectile in the rifling requires significant effort. The propellant (powder) charge is of comparable weight. The OF-29 unitary HE projectile for the 2A36 152 mm towed artillery piece is 101 lbs (46 kg). The charge is 76.6 lbs (34.8 kg). For those armies with heavier pieces of artillery the corresponding weights are greater. Thus, because there is already much physical exertion required to ram a projectile, the reduced weight provided by the embodiments of the invention allows for a reduction of the fatigue of crewmen.

With regard to reduced heat stress in chemical protective gear. Present western chemical protective gear is based on a layered ensemble of treated cloth and a charcoal impregnated intermediate layer. These layers reduce the effectiveness of perspiration in cooling the body. In a desert climate the effect of heat is worse. Adding heavy exertion makes the heat load difficult to cope with. Eastern designed chemical protective equipment is based on an impermeable rubber suit that completely blocks ventilation. Reduction of muscular activity to a minimum is highly desirable in both cases. As such, the reduced weight provided by the embodiments of the invention allows for this reduction of muscular activity.

With regard to reduced personnel requirements, the reduced weight provided by the embodiments of the invention allows for fewer number of crewmen required to handle the ramming of a projectile compared to conventional systems. With regard to increased safety, the various embodiments of the invention allow for increased safety of the ramming of the projectile or propellant charge. Moreover, reduction in the number of personnel required to handle the ramming as well as some of the other advantages described above further increases the overall safety provided by the embodiments of the invention.

The foregoing description of the specific embodiments will so fully reveal the general nature of the invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily modify and/or adapt for various applications such specific embodiments without departing from the generic concept, and, therefore, such adaptations and modifications should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments. It is to be understood that the phraseology or terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation. Therefore, while the invention has been described in terms of preferred embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that the embodiments of the invention can be practiced with modification within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification89/47
International ClassificationF41A15/00
Cooperative ClassificationF41A9/44
European ClassificationF41A9/44
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 9, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: ARMY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AS REPRESENTED BY T
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BRAND, JOHN, , II;BARFIELD, THOMAS H.;REEL/FRAME:015865/0096;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050124 TO 20050125