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The gun mount used in two types of self-propelled artillery consists of an oil-filled recoil cylinder and a sand-cast (MIL-I-11466, grade D7003) ductile-iron piston that connects to the gun tube through a threaded rod. The piston contains several orifices through which oil is forced as a means of absorbing recoil energy. During operation, the piston is stressed in tension, pulled by oil pressure on one end and the opposing force of the gun tube on the other. The casting specification stipulated that the graphite be substantially nodular and that metallographic test results be provided for each lot. Investigation (visual inspection, fatigue testing, 0.25x/0.35x/50x magnifications, 2% nital etched 60x/65x magnifications, and SEM views) showed that most of the service fractures occurred in pistons containing vermicular graphite. Recommendations included ultrasonic testing of pistons already in the field to identify and reject those containing vermicular graphite. In addition, metallographic control standards were suggested for future production lots.

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Fracture of Ductile-Iron Pistons for a Gun Recoil Mechanism as Affected by Type of Graphite, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Design Flaws, ASM International, 2019,

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