Railgun Current Guard Plates: Active Current Management and Augmentation

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Beno, J.H.
Weldon, W.F.

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A system of auxiliary conductors designed to reduce current density peaks in railgun rails is described, and the effects on rail current density and projectile force are discussed. Performance comparisons with simple railguns and typical augmented railguns are made. It is shown that the wrap-around design of the guard plates can produce four to eight times the force produced by the usual augmented railgun design, without increasing local peak current densities. The range of performance contained in the factors between four and eight is primarily a function of the complexity of design. The more complex designs involve allowing the guard plates to overhang the rail slightly (intruding into the bore space, similar to rifling in a conventional gun barrel), and the use of separate power supplies for the rail and guard-plate conductors. These added complexities represent unacceptable complications for many applications, but may be justifiable for others


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J.H. Beno and W.F. Weldon, “Railgun current guard plates: active current management and augmentation,” IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, vol. 17, no. 3, June 1989, pp. 422-428.