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A forged, cadmium-plated electroslag remelt (ESR) 4340 steel mixer pivot support of the rotor support assembly located on an Army attack helicopter was found to be broken in two pieces during an inspection. Visual inspection of the failed part revealed significant wear on surfaces that contacted the bushing and areas at the machined radius where the cadmium coating had been damaged, which allowed corrosion pitting to occur. Optical microscopy showed that the crack origin was located at the machined radius within a region that was severely pitted. Electron microscopy revealed that most of the fracture surface failed in an intergranular fashion. Energy dispersive spectroscopy determined that deposits of sand, corrosion and salts were found within the pits. The failure started by hydrogen charging as a result of corrosion, and was aggravated by the stress concentration effects of pitting at the radius and the high notch sensitivity of the material. The failure mechanism was hydrogen-assisted and was most likely a combination of stress-corrosion cracking and corrosion fatigue. Recommendations were to improve the inspection criteria of the component in service and the material used in fabrication.

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