Supersonic accelerators use sabots to suppress bore balloting. However, sabot separation induces flight deviation in projectiles owing to their interactions with fluids and shock waves. A seamless calculation of the acceleration phase in the tube and the full separation process using 3-D computational fluid dynamics coupled with rigid body dynamics is presented in this study to investigate the shock-wave interactions around a railgun-launched projectile. The railgun acceleration induced a normal shock wave propagating ahead of the projectile; when the projectile reached the tube end, a substantial expansion at the muzzle generated two shock waves, namely, a spherical precursor shock wave and a Mach disk, outside the tube. Aerodynamic forces on the projectile/sabot decreased to almost zero just after the tube exit, with the ambient fluid around the tube being faster than the projectile by the substantial expansion. After exiting, the projectile penetrated the precursor shock wave at t 0.15 ms; this increased the aerodynamic forces acting on the projectile, initiated sabot separation, and generated multiple shock-wave interactions, which induce unsteady aerodynamic loads on the projectile.
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