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Study on impact response of laminated woven

fabric rubber composite armour against


shaped charge jet
X. Jia1, Z.-X. Huang*1, M. Guo1, X.-D. Zu1 and L. Ji2
The performance of different types of laminated woven fabric rubber composite armours
(WFRCAs) against a 56 mm diameter shaped charge at 688 NATO angle is investigated. WFRCA
is a laminated armour element consisting of the following layers: steel, woven fabric, rubber and
steel. Carbon, glass, Kevlar and poly(phenylene benzobizoxazole) (PBO) woven fabrics are used
as reinforcement materials. The effects of the four types of woven fabric on the efficiency factors
were studied. Several X-ray tests made the interaction between the shaped charge jet and the
laminated WFRCAs visible. The effect of the interaction region between the jet and the armour
plate was also discussed. A microscopic study of the edge of the fabric, rubber and steel plates
after shaped charge jet impact was conducted to evaluate the structure and composition.
The defeat mechanism in the PBO WFRCA target is different from the mechanisms of other
composite armour types.
Keywords: Woven fabric, Rubber, Composite armour, Shaped charge jet, Protective ability, Impact, SEM

Introduction
A high velocity metallic jet generated by a shaped
charge penetrates the armour target because of the
concentration of energy in a small cross-sectional area.
Generally, any lateral disturbance on the jet will
significantly decrease penetration depth. One of the most
efficient ways of disturbing a jet is to allow it to interact
with an oblique moving plate. The explosive reactive
armour (ERA), which consists of two steel plates
sandwiched around a layer of high explosive, is very
efficient as an add-on armour against shaped charge
jets.1 Although ERA is efficient in terms of both mass
and space, its explosive content poses a significant safety
and environmental concern. This aspect has motivated
researchers to study rubber composite armours.2
A rubber composite armour consists of an inert rubber
sandwiched between two thin steel plates. When a jet
impacts a rubber composite armour obliquely, the steel
plates interact with the moving jet during the bulging
process, thereby disrupting its normal action. A part of
the jet tips kinetic energy is converted into the rubbers
internal energy. The rubber layer creates a high pressure
region that causes bulging with a radial motion of the
steel plates.3 The mechanism underlying the disturbance
of the jet by the rubber composite armour is similar to
that of ERA. Held analysed the disturbance frequency
1
School of Mechanical Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and
Technology, Nanjing 210094, China
2
No. 203 Research Institute of China Ordnance Industries, Xian 710065,
China

*Corresponding author, email huangyu@mail.njust.edu.cn

Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining 2015


Published by Maney on behalf of the Institute
Received 10 April 2015; accepted 29 June 2015
DOI 10.1179/1743289815Y.0000000028

of a bulging armour that consists of two steel plates


sandwiched around a layer of Dyneema fibres through a
flash X-ray experiment.4
In more recent years, high stiffness and high strength
composite materials are typically used in protective
systems that require penetration resistance against
incident high energy projectiles.5 Different fibres vary in
structural properties, thereby resulting in varied reactions under ballistic impact when these fibres are woven
into fabrics. Kevlar, carbon, glass, poly(phenylene benzobizoxazole) (PBO) and ultraheavy molecular weight
polyethylene have been used as reinforcement materials,
and they provide excellent integrity and conformability
for advanced composite armours.69
Although many researchers have analysed the ballistic
impact of a hard projectile, analysis on the jets impact is
lacking. In this work, we tried to use different types of
woven fabrics in rubber composite armours to improve
the protective ability against shaped charge jet impact.
Glass carbon, PBO and Kevlar woven fabrics are used
as the reinforcement materials. Depth of penetration
(DOP) tests are performed to study the efficiency factors
of four types of laminated woven fabric rubber
composite armours (WFRCAs). The comparison of
protective abilities of laminated WFRCAs and the
analysis of disturbance mechanism of woven fabric are
the main purposes of this study.

Experimental
Shaped charge used in test
The shaped charge used in these tests has a 0.8 mm
copper liner and 203 g explosive with an outer diameter

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of 56 mm and a length of 73 mm, as shown in Fig. 1.


To test the baseline performance of WFRCA, the
consistency of the shaped charge jet formation and the
penetration into the rolled homogeneous armour (RHA)
target should be determined. The shaped charge is
placed 80 mm from the RHA target. Two firings were
conducted to confirm the consistency in the formation
of the jet. An image of the test set-up is shown in
Fig. 2. The penetration of this shaped charge at 80 mm
(*1.5 calibers) standoff in RHA is *200 mm.
The jet tip and tail velocities were measured, and the
formation process was observed using the X-ray system.
The jet tip and tail velocities are 6510 and 1189 m s21
respectively. The tip jet diameter is 1.5 mm, and the tail
diameter is 9 mm. The lengths of the jet are *167.5 mm
at 30 ms and 291.5 mm at 50 ms after explosion.
The double flash X-ray of the shaped charge jet at
30 and 50 ms after explosion is presented in Fig. 3.

Laminated WFRCA construction and materials


WFRCA is a laminated armour element consisting of
the following layers: steel, woven fabric, rubber and
steel. The woven fabric layers are closely in contact with
the rubber layer. We used a premium grade adhesive to
bond the steel plates and the woven fabric layers. The
thicknesses of the steel plates, woven fabric and rubber
layer are 3, 2 and 3 mm respectively. The laminated
WFRCA had an area geometry of 150 mm|300 mm.
The schematic diagram of the laminated WFRCA is
shown in Fig. 4. The material properties of the
four types of woven fabric are given in Table 1. The
properties of the rubber layer and the steel plate used in
the test are shown in Table 2.

DOP tests
To assess the protective capabilities of the four types of
laminated WFRCA against the shaped charge jet
impact, the DOP test method was used in the experiment. In all cases, the measuring distance from the
shaped charge to the WFRCA is 80 mm (*1.5 calibers).
The RHA witness targets were arranged at a distance of
340 mm from the shaped charge to measure the depth of
the residual penetration. The schematic penetration
behaviour of the shaped charge against the reference and
final typical results of the laminated WFRCA is shown
in Fig. 5. Given the unpredictable line of flight and
disturbance of the jet after penetrating the WFRCA,

1 Shaped charge used in tests

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the residual velocity of the jet was recorded using a


velocity measurement system consisting of two copper
foil panels and a time recorder. Each set consisted of
two pieces of copper thin foils placed between the
F plate of WFRCA and RHA witness targets surface,
as shown in Fig. 6.

X-ray test
To evaluate the disturbance ability of the four types of
the abovementioned laminated WFRCAs against the
impact of the shaped charge jet, the X-ray test method
was used in the experiment. Two 45 kV flash X-ray
devices were used to observe the interaction between the
jet and the WFRCAs. The two flash tubes were arranged
exactly along the centreline of the shaped charge jet.
Two protected cassettes containing screen film were set
up to capture images of all disturbed jets. The distance
between the light extraction point of the tube and
the centreline of the shaped charge jet is equal to the
distance between the centreline of the shaped charge jet
and the X-ray screen films. Semicircular concrete blocks
were positioned to protect the equipment from the
products of detonation and debris. The first X-ray tube
exposure was set up with a time delay of 50 ms after
explosion, and the second tube was triggered after 80 ms.
The schematic and image of the X-ray test set-up are
shown in Figs. 7 and 8 respectively.

Results and discussion


Penetration of shaped charge jet
The DOP of the shaped charge jet in RHA at 80 mm is
200+ 2 mm, with a relative error of *1%. The access
hole of the jet penetrating the first target was *35 mm,
and the out hole was *10 mm (Fig. 9). Figure 10 shows
that during the initial stage of the jet penetrating the
target, the diameter of the hole was rapidly reduced and
the reduction ratio is 25%. A copper material is left on
the witness target, thereby indicating continuous losses
of the jet in the penetration process. The perforation
diameter in the witness target is significantly larger than
the jet diameter, and residual copper was attached to the
wall of the hole. A hole was formed on the target
because the impact velocity is higher than the speed of
sound of the steel material when the jet collided with the
target. The perforation diameter will expand because of
subsequent jet expansion caused by the subsequent jet

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base steel armour required to stop the special threat


WRES. The MEF is defined as follows:
EM

W REF
W WFRCA W RES

The mass per unit area of the witness target is therefore


WREF PREF6rREF, where PREF is the penetration of
200 mm in the RHA witness target, as mentioned in the
Shaped charge used in test section. Therefore,
this penetration depth is used as the reference in our
comparison. rREF is the density of RHA witness target.
The total area weight of the laminated WFRCA is
as follows:
!
a
X
W WFRCA
Pn rn
cosh
2
n1

2 Setup used to test penetration ability of shaped charge

impact. The access hole of the jet penetrating the second


target is *10 mm, the out hole is *4 mm, and the
reduction ratio is 25%.

Protection efficiency
Laminated WFRCA, as an add-on armour, was placed
at a particular distance from the main armour to
improve protective capabilities. The efficiency factors
are commonly used to describe the protection level of
different armours. These factors provide the information
required by an armour designer to design vehicle
protection without needing to know the details on the
structure and mechanism of the armour systems.
Moreover, with these factors of the armour, the weapon
designer can determine the necessary penetration power
of a kinetic energy projectile or a shaped charge warhead
to overcome the protection levels of these special
armours.
The mass efficiency factor (MEF) and space efficiency
factor (SEF) were calculated to describe the protective
capability of the armour systems. MEF is defined as the
ratio between the areal weight of the reference steel
target WREF and the total areal weight of the tested
armour WWFRCA, along with the areal weight of the

where Pn is the thickness of the nth layer in the direction


of jet movement and independently comprises two 3 mm
steel plates, a 2 mm woven fabric layer and a 3 mm
rubber layer. rn is the density of the nth layer, and h is
the NATO angle equal to 688. The weight of the residual
witness required to stop the penetration is WRES.
To evaluate the protective capability contributed by
the add-on armour, the differential mass efficiency
factor (DMEF) is defined as the ratio of the reduction in
armour weight if a laminated WFRCA is added.10
In this case, the armour weight saving is divided by the
weight of the laminated WFRCA. The formal definition
of DMEF is as follows:
Dec

W REF 2 W RES
W WFRCA

In terms of saving the space of a protective system,


space limitation to the add-on armour can extend from
the main armour. The distance or space from the main
armour should be considered to accommodate the
add-on armour. The DOP of the main armour can be
reduced via the use of laminated WFRCA. We assume
that this distance originates from the initial impact point
of the laminated WFRCA to the RHA witness target
surface denoted by SC. The SEF is defined as follows:
Es

PREF
SC PRES

The penetration reduced using laminated WFRCA


(PREF2PRES) should be compared with the space
between the WFRCA and the RHA witness target to

3 Double flash X-ray of shaped charge jet at 30 and 50 ms after explosion

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4 Schematic diagram of laminated WFRCA (all dimensions


in mm)

evaluate the so called saved space of the WFRCA.


Another efficiency factor, namely, the differential space
efficiency factor (DSEF), is introduced. DSEF is defined
as follows:
Des

PREF 2 PRES
SC

The four types of laminated WFRCAs are arranged


independently at 688 NATO angle and 260 mm distance
vertical to the firing axis of the arranged RHA witness
plates. The DOP in the witness target is measured,
and the measured value is then used for calculating the
efficiency factors. The effect of the woven fabric on
the residual penetration of the shaped charge jet is
illustrated in Fig. 11.
As a result, the residual penetration varies with
the type of woven fabrics used. The results indicate
that the residual penetration reaches ,72 mm when
PBO WFRCA is used in the test. In this case, the PBO
woven fabric exhibits better performance. A reference

penetration of 200 mm was previously recorded in RHA


witness blocks. Thus, the addition of PBO WFRCA
reduced the residual penetration depth by at least 64%.
The residual penetration depth behind the
carbon WFRCA is ,23% deeper than that behind PBO
WFRCA. Thus, the performances of laminated
WFRCAs are sensitive to woven fabric placement and
structure of the composite armour.
The calculated efficiency factors, along with the area
weight results obtained from the four types of
WFRCA, are presented in Figs. 12 and 13. The MEFs
are slightly different. This result is expected from the
four types of laminated WFRCA. The MEFs of carbon
and Kevlar woven fabrics, with respective values of
1.79 and 1.72, are smaller than the values of the other
two types, which are 2.06 (glass) and 2.21 (PBO).
However, the MEF is unable to reflect whether the
woven fabric itself contributes to the relative protection capability against the shaped charge jet. For
instance, the area weight of carbon WFRCA is
146.1 kg m22, which is equivalent to 18.63 mm steel.
The area weight of the glass WFRCA is 149.5 kg m22,
which is equivalent to 19.07 mm steel. Likewise,
the equivalent thickness of the Kevlar WFRCA is
18.32 mm steel, and the equivalent thickness of the
PBO WFRCA is 18.41 mm steel.
Considering the ratio of the reduction in armour
weight, the DMEFs were calculated with reference
target (RHA witness). The PBO interlayer provided the
best DMEF, as shown in Fig. 12. Over 6.9 times of

Table 1 Properties of four types of woven fabric


Property

Density/g cm23

Fabric type

Glass
Carbon
Kevlar
PBO

2.54
1.90
1.44
1.56

Twill
Plain
Plain
Plain

Tensile strength/GPa
3.45
2.6
2.8
5.8

Stretch modulus/GPa

Elongation/%

70
400
134
280

4.8
1.5
3.5
2.3

Table 2 Properties of rubber and steel plate


Rubber layer
Steel plate

Density/g cm23
1.3
Density/g cm23
7.84

Tear strength/kN m21


94
Tensile strength/MPa
375

Tensile strength/MPa
23.8
Yield strength/MPa
235

Elongation at rupture/%
487
Elongation/%
26

Shore hardness
73

5 Schematic penetration behaviour of shaped charge against semi-infinite RHA witness blocks (reference) and test
laminated WFRCA

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8 Test set-up with shaped charge on top of laminated


WFRCA

initial impact point of WFRCA to the witness target


strongly affects SEF and DSEF. Hence, assuming that
the armour size and all other parameters remain the
same, the increase in mass efficiency increases the space
efficiency by design improvement of WFRCA.

Disturbance of shaped charge jet


6 Image of test set-up

7 Schematic of X-ray test set-up

weight is saved to achieve full protection using the PBO


WFRCA compared with ,5.6 times of weight each for
carbon and Kevlar WFRCAs. The glass WFRCA also
had higher DMEF, which is ,6.4, but this value was still
less than that of the PBO woven fabric interlayer.
In terms of space, the variations in SEF and DSEF in
terms of the four types of laminated WFRCA are shown
in Fig. 13. The results indicate that SEF and DSEF do
not change significantly when the types of woven fabric
are changed. Given that the performance of the shaped
charge is a function of the firing distance between the
shaped charge and a witness target, an optimal distance
allows the shaped charge to have the largest penetration
power. Given that the large distance SC is 260 mm, and
the reference penetration depth is 200 mm (less than that
of SC), a lower SEF is ,0.4. The distance SC from the

The X-ray system made the deformation of the shaped


charge jet visible, and the carbon, Kevlar and PBO
WFRCAs were tested in identical set-ups. Figure 14a
shows the X-ray radiograph of the jet interacting with
the carbon WFRCA. When the jet collides with the
carbon WFRCA, the tip of the jet creates a hole on the
plates. A high pressure region forms in the layers, which
concurrently accelerates the plates in the opposite
direction. After a short delay, the F plate begins to
disturb the jet, thereby creating a perturbation. The
disturbed jets were slightly bent because the F plate
exhibits a slower expansion velocity. Meanwhile, a
relatively long escaped jet (204 mm) was observed on the
X-ray radiograph. The length of the escaped jet affects
the penetration capability of the jet.11 Thus, stronger
penetration capability can be obtained with longer
escaped jet. Hence, carbon laminated WFRCA exhibits
a poor protective ability.
Figure 14b shows the X-ray radiograph of the Kevlar
laminated WFRCA. More pronounced perturbations of
the jet are visible on the radiograph, which reflect the
amount of disturbance caused by the WFRCA. The
disturbance region with strong interference is *57 mm
long. The plate smoothly deflects the jet tail without the
characteristic instability, and these slightly disturbed jets
exhibit a certain degree of penetration ability.
Figure 14c shows the X-ray radiograph of the jet
interacting with the PBO laminated WFRCA. Two large
perturbations on the passing jet are revealed by the
radiograph. The disturbance region found between these
two large perturbations is longer (*109 mm) than those
seen in the other two X-ray radiographs (see Fig. 14a
and b). Moreover, the length of the escaped jet shown in
Fig. 14c is only 92 mm, which is the shortest among
the three. Thus, we can conclude that stronger jet
disruption is caused by larger expansion of the F plate
and longer region of the interaction with the jet.

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9 Crater on witness target caused by shaped charge jet penetration

10 Cross-section of first witness target

Deformation of F plate
To analyse the disturbance mechanism, the deformations of the F plate for four types of laminated
WFRCA are presented. When the jet initially impacts
the WFRCA, the jet tip creates an elliptical hole in the

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B plate and a high pressure region in the rubber layer.


The pressurised region in the rubber layer functions as
an energy source and accelerates the plates in the
opposite direction. The jet then impinges on the F plate
and forms a bulge in it. The bulge continues to develop
and starts to interact with the passing jet. Given the
interaction of the F plate with the jet, the crater edge of
the F plate is eroded, and the F plate has to deform
again. This process is iteratively continuous and gives
multiple eruptions along the jet. The interaction region
in the F plate is shown in Fig. 15b. A large amount of
disrupted jet particles spattered on the F plate.
The zoom in zone of the interaction region in the F
plate is presented in Fig. 15d. Figure 15d shows that the
PBO fibres directly impacted by the jet are severely
pulled out from the woven fabric. PBO fibres have a
microscopically smooth surface, few functional groups
and relatively strong chemical inertness. These characters would reduce the friction between fibres. Given
their lower friction, the PBO fibres are easily pulled out
by the jet. Thus, most of the energy is dissipated and
absorbed by the fibres upon pullout. The crater in the
F plate of PBO WFRCA is larger than those in the
plates of carbon and Kevlar WFRCAs. Given that the
jet impacts the WFRCAs obliquely, the craters created
are not round with the jet as a centre. The interaction
between the F plate and the jet mainly disrupts the jet,

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The crater on the witness target after jet impact


illustrates the jet disturbance. Photographs of the final
craters are shown in Fig. 16. The results show that the
number and shape of the crater on the witness target
surface vary depending on the fabric used. The number
of craters is less in the carbon and glass laminated
WFRCAs (see Figs. 16a and b) than in the two other
WFRCAs. An approximately circular crater with a
diameter of 16 mm is shown in Fig. 16a. This result is
attributed to the slight disturbance of the jets caused by
the carbon laminated WFRCA. This phenomenon is
validated by the X-ray radiograph (see Fig. 14a).
By contrast, an elliptical hole on the witness target is
created by the jet, and numerous jet particles attach to
the surface of the witness target (Fig. 16d). This result
illustrates the severe jet disturbance caused by the PBO
laminated WFRCA.
11 Effect of interlayer materials on residual penetration

Scanning electron micrographs of rubber, fabric


and steel after impact

12 Effect of interlayer materials on MEF and DMEF

13 Effect of interlayer materials on SEF and DSEF

whereas the B plate interacts with only a small part of


the jet. Thus, a long interaction region in the F plate
indicates that the passing jet is disturbed by the plate.
As a result of this analysis, the disturbance mechanism
in PBO WFRCA is possibly different from the
mechanisms underlying the performance of the other
three types of laminated WFRCAs, especially considering the region of the fibre pullout.

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is a type of electron microscopy that produces images of a sample by
scanning it with a focused beam of electrons. In this
paper, JEOL JSM-6380LV at 30 kV was used to evaluate the structure and composition of the fabric, rubber
and steel plates after shaped charge jet impact. Rubber,
glass, Kevlar and PBO fibres are nonmetallic materials.
Thus, the specimens were subjected to spray gold processing to obtain conductive sample surfaces. Otherwise,
charge accumulation will occur, thereby causing point
discharge. To analyse the protective mechanism of
the different types of laminated WFRCAs against the
shaped charge jet impact, the edge of the crater of
rubber, glass, PBO, Kevlar woven fabric and steel plates
were observed using the scanning electron micrographs.
The deformation of the fabric during jet impact is also
used to illustrate the phenomenon of the jet disturbance.
The SEM images of the glass, Kevlar and PBO are
shown in Fig. 17. The results indicate that when the
fabric is changed, the deformation and fracture mechanisms of the fabrics present obvious differences.
The SEM images of the glass woven fabric after jet
impact are presented in Fig. 17a. The results from the
glass fibre yarns reveal that extensive damage occurred
in the glass laminate. In addition, a number of glass fibre
yarns were pulled out by the jet along the direction of
the yarn. Furthermore, the glass woven fabric laminate
was broken down into several small fragments and was
separated by high impact pressure. The fracture section
of the glass fabric was kept abreast.
The SEM image of Kevlar woven fabric after
perforation by a shaped charge jet is shown in Fig. 17b.
The Kevlar fabric exhibited slight actual fibre pullout,
although minor fibre ablation at the fracture section may
have occurred. When the jet impacted the Kevlar woven
fabric layers, the fabric deformed into an approximate
square pyramid centred at the point of impact. As the jet
moved sequentially, the impacted region continued to
expend along the orthogonal directions of the yarns,
finally resulting in an approximately square shaped
damage on the fabric region. This condition occurred
because of the cross-woven nature of the weave.
In addition, the inter-yarn friction of Kevlar woven
fabric is higher. Thus, the removal of yarns is more

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14 X-ray radiograph of shaped charge jet penetrating each of four types of laminated WFRCA

difficult for the jet, and therefore, the jet must dissipate
more energy to break more yarns to perforate the fabric.
By contrast, Fig. 17c indicates that the PBO yarns that
were directly impacted by the shaped charge jet were
severely pulled out from the woven fabric. Thus, well
documented disorganisation was observed in the fabric.
PBO fibres have a microscopically smooth surface, have
few functional groups, and reveal relatively strong
chemical inertness. These factors can result in friction
reduction between fibres in the fabric during yarn pullout. Given a lower friction, a jet can push yarns apart
more easily. The increase in energy dissipation in the
PBO layers could be partly attributed to the increase in
the force required to pull out each yarn from the fabric.
Thus, most of the energy dissipated and was absorbed
by the yarn pullout. Meanwhile, the disordered fibres
would also disturb the moving jet and reduce the jet
penetration ability. Therefore, the defeat mechanism in

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the PBO WFRCA target is different from the mechanisms in the other types of composite armours, especially
with respect to the extent of yarn pulled out.
The SEM images of the edge of the crater of the
rubber layer after jet impact are shown in Fig. 18a.
When the shaped charge jet initially impacted the laminated WFRCA, the tip of jet created an elliptical hole
and a high pressure region in the plates. The pressurised
region in the rubber layer functions as an energy source
and compresses the rubber. Numerous cracks appeared
at the crater of the rubber layer, and a large number of
rubber particles appeared on the side of the crater. Some
broken PBO fibres were embedded in the rubber layer.
Thus, the rubber mechanical properties will change.
The edge of the penetration crater in the steel plate
was inspected via SEM to evaluate if the materials were
melted in the contact surface between the jet and
the plate. A large amount of melted copper covered the

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15 Slits of rubber layer and deformation of F plates

16 Crater on witness target after shaped charge jet impacted laminated WFRCAs

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17 SEM images of edge of crater of glass, Kevlar and PBO fabric

surface of the edge of the crater of the steel plates,


as shown in Fig. 18b. The interface between the copper
and steel was displayed clearly in SEM. These findings
indicate that the edge of crater of the steel plates
sequentially interacts sideways with the jet and causes
lateral disturbance in the X-ray images.

Conclusions
Carbon, glass, Kevlar and PBO WFRCAs were tested
for ballistic performance against a W56 mm shaped
charge jet at 68u NATO angle via the DOP test method.
The efficiency factors were used to evaluate the performance of the laminated WFRCAs. A high efficiency

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factor indicates good protective ability. The PBO


WFRCA provides superior MEF, DMEF, SEF and
DSEF. Analysing the deformation and the interaction
region in the F plate allowed us to study the disturbance
mechanism better. A long interaction region in the F
plate indicates that the passing jet is disturbed by the
plate. The interaction region in the F plate of PBO
WFRCA is longer than those of the other three F plates.
The defeat mechanism in the PBO WFRCA target is
different from the mechanisms in the other types of
composite armours, especially with respect to the extent
of yarn pulled out. The PBO WFRCA is more suitable
as an additional armour than the other three types of
WFRCA.

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18 SEM images of edge of crater of rubber layer and steel plates

Acknowledgements
This research is supported by the National Natural Science
Foundation of China (grant no. 11272157) and the National
Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 11072115).

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Plastics, Rubber and Composites

2015

VOL

44

NO

361

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