Ronald S. Hawke - Livermore CA
Allan R. Susoeff - Pleasanton CA
The United States of America as represented by the United States
Department of Energy - Washington DC
A single skirt projectile (20) having an insulating skirt (22) at its rear, or a dual trailing skirt projectile (30, 40, 50, 60) having an insulating skirt (32, 42, 52, 62) succeeded by an arc extinguishing skirt (34, 44, 54, 64), is accelerated by a railgun accelerator 10 having a pair of parallel conducting rails (1a, 1b) which are separated by insulating wall spacers (11). The insulating skirt (22, 32, 42, 52, 62) includes a plasma channel (38). The arc extinguishing skirt (34, 44, 54, 64) interrupts the conduction that occurs in the insulating skirt channel (38) by blocking the plasma arc (3) from conducting current from rail to rail (1a, 1b) at the rear of the projectile (30, 40, 50, 60). The arc extinguishing skirt may be comprised of two plates (36a, 36b) which form a horseshoe wherein the plates are parallel to the rails (1a, b); a chisel-shape design; cross-shaped, or it may be a cylindrical (64). The length of the insulating skirt channel is selected such that there is sufficient plasma in the channel to enable adequate current conduction between the rails (1a, 1b).