Lightweight rigid-wall shelters used in mobile military operations are often constructed of sandwich panels comprised of thin face sheets and thick, yet ultra light core materials to minimize weight while maximizing structural integrity. The key structural advantage of sandwich panel construction (SPC) versus homogeneous panel construction (HPC) is the potential for up to an order of magnitude weight reduction while matching equivalent bending stiffnesses. Additional advantages include increases in damping, acoustic and thermal insulation, and possibly ballistic protection performance for a given areal weight density. However, these advantages come at a cost, which often impact the design and manufacturing complexities of critical joints used to connect the sandwich panels in a box-like assembly. Furthermore, stiffnesses of these joints are often difficult to characterize and their finite values significantly influence panel deflections and rotations. While mobile rigid wall shelters must be certified for several transport loading environments including rail impact (vehicle mounted and dismounted), drop shock, mobility and external air transport (EAT), the present effort, addresses survivability against conventional air blast effects. This study employed combined experimental and analytical approaches at the material and sub-structural levels to (1) generate accurate shelter models, (2) validate the material- and sub-structural models and (3) maximize the shelter’s global performance against a conventional air blast event early in the design stage to avoid costly physical tests. The material level tests focused on the mechanics of the assembled constituents that formed the sandwich panel and the benchmarking of an appropriate finite element to predict the displacement, stress and strain responses. The sub-structural level tests focused on loading a structurally representative shelter section to determine the joint behaviors and stiffnesses for model benchmarking purposes. Finally, a complete rigid-wall mobile military shelter model was constructed and its modal behavior was characterized followed by its complete dynamic response to an air blast event.

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