Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Dr. Kira Abercromby


This paper describes the changes made from Cal Poly’s initial railgun system, the Mk. 1 railgun, to the Mk. 1.1 system, as well as the design, fabrication, and testing of a newer and larger Mk. 2 railgun system. The Mk. 1.1 system is developed as a more efficient alteration of the original Mk. 1 system, but is found to be defective due to hardware deficiencies and failure, as well as unforeseen efficiency losses. A Mk. 2 system is developed and built around donated hardware from the Naval Postgraduate School. The Mk. 2 system strove to implement an efficient, augmented, electromagnetic railgun and projectile system capable of firing an approximate 1g aluminum projectile to speeds exceeding 2 km/s. A novel three part projectile is proposed to mitigate rail and projectile degradation. Projectile and sabot system kinematic equations are derived and the projectile is designed and tested along with Mk. 2 barrel. A numerical electromechanical model is developed to predict the performance of the Mk. 2 system and projectile assembly, and predicts a final velocity for the fabricated system exceeding 3.5 km/s and an efficiency as high as 24%. Testing of the Mk. 2 system showed catastrophic failure of the projectile during initial acceleration, resulting in very short acceleration times and distance, low velocity projectiles, and low efficiencies. During further testing of various projectile configurations, the barrel structure failed due to a large internal arc. Future work for the Mk. 2 system is discussed, a revised external barrel structure suggested, and a solid, more conventional solid chevron projectile design suggested.