Fracture of an Aluminum Alloy 2014-T6 Catapult-Hook Attachment Fitting for Naval Aircraft
A forged aluminum alloy 2014-T6 catapult-hook attachment fitting (anodized by the chromic acid process to protect it from corrosion) from a naval aircraft broke in service. Spectrographic analysis, visual examination, microscopic examination, and tensile analysis showed minute cracks on the inside surface of a bearing hole, and small areas of pitting corrosion were visible on the exterior surface of the fitting. The analysis also revealed a small number of rosettes, suggestive of eutectic melting, in an otherwise normal structure. These examinations and analyses support the conclusion that the presence of chromic acid stain on the fracture surface proved that the forging had cracked before anodizing. This suggest that the crack initiated during straightening, either after machining or after heat treatment. The structure and composition of the alloy appear to have been acceptable. Ductility was acceptable so rosettes found in the microstructure are believed to have been nondamaging. Had they contributed to the failure, the ductility would have been very low. The recommendations included inspection for cracks and revising the manufacturing process to include a fluorescent liquid-penetrant inspection before anodizing, because chromic acid destroys the penetrant. This inspection would reduce the possibility of cracked parts being used in service.