The dynamic buckling of imperfect finite circular cylindrical shells subjected to suddenly applied and subsequently maintained lateral or hydrostatic pressure is studied using a perturbation method. The geometric imperfections are assumed small but arbitrary. A simple asymptotic expression is obtained for the dynamic buckling load in terms of the amplitude of the Fourier component of the imperfection in the shape of the classical buckling mode. Consequently, for small imperfection, there is a simple relation between the dynamic buckling load under step-loading and the static buckling load. This relation is independent of the shape of the imperfection.

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