Examination of several fighter aircraft main landing gear legs revealed unusual cracking in the hard chromium plating that covered the sliding section of the inner strut. The cracking was associated with cracks in the 35 NCD 16 steel beneath the plating. A detailed investigation revealed that the cracking was caused by the combination of incorrect grinding procedure, the presence of hydrogen, and fatigue. The grinding damage generated tensile stresses in the steel, which caused intergranular cracking during the plating cycle. The intergranular cracks were initiation sites for fatigue crack growth during service. It was recommended that the damaged undercarriage struts be withdrawn from service pending further analysis and development of a repair technique.
The 4340 steel main rotor yoke of a helicopter failed during a hovering exercise. Visual examination of the yoke revealed no evidence of gross external damage. Visual fracture surface examination, macrofractography, scanning electron micrography, and metallography of a section cut from the yoke in the region of the cracking indicated that the failure was caused by fatigue-crack initiation and growth from severe corrosion damage to a pillow-block bolt hole. Corrosion occurred because of failure of the protection scheme. An upgraded corrosion protection scheme for the bolt holes was recommended, along with nondestructive inspection of the region at intervals determined by fractographic analysis of the fatigue crack growth.