An analytical solution is presented for the problem of the elastic instability of a multiple-bay ring-reinforced cylindrical shell subject to hydrostatic pressure applied in both the radial and axial directions. The method used is that of minimization of the total potential. Expressions for the elastic strain energy in the shell and also in the rings are written in terms of displacement components of a point in the middle surface of the shell. Expressions for the work done by the external forces acting on the cylinder likewise are written in terms of these displacement components. A displacement configuration for the buckled shell is introduced which is in agreement with experimental evidence, in contrast to the arbitrary patterns assumed by previous investigators. The total potential is expressed in terms of these displacement components and is then minimized. As a result of this minimization a set of linear homogeneous equations is obtained. In order that a nontrivial solution to this system of equations exists, it is necessary that the determinant of the coefficients vanish. This condition determines the critical pressure at which elastic buckling of the cylindrical shell will occur.

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