Buckling of thin cylindrical shells from axial impact is studied under the assumption that initial imperfections can be approximated by “white noise.” Linear small-deflection theory is used to calculate the resulting growth of the normal modes, and a statistical analysis gives the expected values for the “preferred” axial and circumferential wave-lengths. Very high-speed photographs (240,000 frames/sec) of shells buckling under axial impact show excellent agreement with the theory and demonstrate that large-deflection buckling follows the pattern established by the early linear motion.

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