The mechanical behaviour of cylindrical GRP panels

  • Robert T. Hartshorn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Glass reinforced plastic (GRP) is now an established material for the fabrication of sonar windows. Its good mechanical strength, light weight, resistance to corrosion and acoustic transparency, are all properties which fit it for this application. This thesis describes a study, undertaken at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Plymouth, into the mechanical behaviour of a circular cylindrical sonar panel. This particular type of panel would be used to cover a flank array sonar in a ship or submarine. The case considered is that of a panel with all of its edges mechanically clamped and subject to pressure loading on its convex surface. A comprehensive program of testing, to determine the orthotropic elastic properties of the laminated composite panel material is described, together with a series of pressure tests on 1:5 scale sonar panels. These pressure tests were carried out in a purpose designed test rig, using air pressure to provide simulated hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loading. Details of all instrumentation used in the experimental work are given in the thesis. The experimental results from the panel testing are compared with predictions of panel behaviour obtained from both the Galerkin solution of Flugge's cylindrical shell equations (orthotropic case), and finite element modelling of the panels using PAFEC. A variety of appropriate panel boundary conditions are considered in each case. A parametric study, intended to be of use as a preliminary design tool, and based on the above Galerkin solution, is also presented. This parametric study considers cases of boundary conditions, material properties, and panel geometry, outside of those investigated in the experimental work Final conclusions are drawn and recommendations made regarding possible improvements to the procedures for design, manufacture and fixing of sonar panels in the Royal Navy.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish


  • mechanical behaviour
  • cylindrical GRP panels

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