Title:
Apparatus & Method for Loading an Ammunition Magazine, and Ammunition Magazine Having a Loading Apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Apparatus and method for loading an ammunition magazine via an ammunition hold. An ammunition holder is provided for receiving an ammunition body externally of the ammunition magazine in a receiving position. A swivel arm is provided for moving the ammunition holder out of the receiving position, along a lifting path, to a storage position, in the vicinity of the ammunition hold, that is disposed at a level higher than is the receiving position.



Inventors:
Raczek, Matthias (Kassel, DE)
Köster, Jens (Kassel, DE)
Application Number:
14/118188
Publication Date:
11/27/2014
Filing Date:
05/11/2012
Assignee:
KRAUSS-MAFFEI-STR. 11
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41A9/83; F41A9/64
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
COCHRAN, BRIDGET A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMPSON HINE L.L.P. (DAYTON, OH, US)
Claims:
1. 1-15. (canceled)

16. An apparatus for loading an ammunition magazine (1) via an ammunition hold (10), comprising: an ammunition holder (3) for receiving an ammunition body (9) externally of said ammunition magazine (1) in a receiving position; a swivel arm (4) for moving said ammunition holder (3) out of said receiving position, along a lifting path, to a storage position, in the vicinity of said ammunition hold (10), that is disposed at a level higher than is said receiving position.

17. A loading apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said ammunition holder (3) is pivotably connected with said swivel arm (4).

18. A loading apparatus according to claim 16, which includes means for coupling movements of said swivel arm (4) in a parallelogram-shaped manner with movements of said ammunition holder (3).

19. A loading apparatus according to claim 18, wherein said swivel arm (4) is provided with a parallelogram-shaped linkage.

20. A loading apparatus according to claim 19, wherein said parallelogram-shaped linkage includes an upper connection rod (4.2) and a lower connection rod (4.1), and which includes an intermediate link (4.3) for coupling free ends of said upper and lower connection rods to provide a connection for said ammunition holder (3).

21. A loading apparatus according to one of the claims 16, wherein said swivel arm (4) is mounted in the vicinity of said ammunition hold (10).

22. A loading apparatus according to claim 20, which includes a drive shaft (5), wherein a foot end of one of said connecting rods (4.1, 4.2) is connected to said drive shaft (5).

23. A loading apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said ammunition holder (3) is provided with a loading platform (3.1).

24. A loading apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said ammunition holder (3) is provided with retaining devices (3.2) to secure a position of said ammunition body (9).

25. The ammunition magazine of claim 16. (only says this and then period, paragraph).

26. An ammunition magazine according to claim 25, wherein said swivel arm (4) is disposed on an outer side of said ammunition hold (10).

27. An ammunition magazine according to claim 26, which includes a drive mechanism (22) for effecting pivoting of said swivel arm (4), wherein said drive mechanism (22) is disposed in an interior of said ammunition magazine (1).

28. An ammunition magazine according to claim 25, wherein said ammunition hold (10) includes a hatch opening (12), and wherein said swivel arm (4), in the storage position, rests against an outer edge (12.2) of said hatch opening (12).

29. An ammunition magazine according to claim 25, wherein said ammunition hold (10) includes a hatch opening (12), and which includes a hatch cover (11) for closing off said hatch opening (12), wherein said hatch cover (11) covers said swivel arm (4) and said swivel arm is in the storage position.

30. A method of loading an ammunition magazine (1) having an ammunition hold (10), including the steps of: providing a loading apparatus (2) for loading said ammunition magazine (1) via said ammunition hold (10); providing an ammunition holder (3) for receiving an ammunition body (9) externally of said ammunition magazine (1) in a receiving position; providing a swivel arm (4); and moving said ammunition holder (3) with said swivel arm (4) out of said receiving position, along a lifting path, and into a storage position, in the vicinity of said ammunition hold (10) that is disposed at a level higher than I s said receiving position.

Description:

The invention relates to an apparatus for loading an ammunition magazine via an ammunition hatch or hold, and has an ammunition receptacle or holder for receiving an ammunition body, wherein the ammunition holder is movable out of a receiving position externally of the ammunition magazine, along a lifting path, into a higher storage position in the region of the ammunition hold. The invention also relates to an ammunition magazine having an ammunition hold and an apparatus for loading the ammunition magazine via the ammunition hold, as well as to a method for loading an ammunition magazine, with an ammunition hold and a loading apparatus for loading the ammunition magazine via the ammunition hold.

Especially in the field of large-caliber weapon systems, such as artillery cannons, tank howitzers, etc., due to the considerable weight of the ammunition bodies in question, and the weapon tube, which is disposed relatively high above the ground, special requirements result during loading of the ammunition magazine, which is often disposed close to the weapon, especially within the framework of continuing battle situations.

With many weapon systems, the actual weapon tube is disposed in an ordnance turret that is rotatable relative to a support structure, for example a vehicle body that accommodates the crew of the vehicle. The ammunition bodies required for the operation of the weapon are transported to the weapon via transport vehicles, and are subsequently placed in an ammunition magazine in the interior of the ordnance turret via an ammunition hold that is provided in the ordnance turret. For this purpose, the ammunition hold is initially opened, and the ammunition bodies are brought into a storage position in the region of the ammunition hold, from where the ammunition bodies are then stored or stowed in the ammunition magazine via handling means that often operate automatically.

With this type of loading, the height difference that has to be overcome during the transfer of the ammunition bodies into their storage position is especially problematic. This is because the ammunition bodies, in a generally upright arrangement, are delivered to low-lying transport pallets, and thus subsequently must be brought into the interior of the ammunition magazine via the significantly higher-lying ammunition hold. In the simplest case, the height difference between the delivery position and the storage position is overcome manually, i.e. a person standing between the ammunition hold and the transport pallet must manually remove the ammunition bodies from the transport pallet, and must subsequently lift them to the level of the ammunition hold, which due to the somewhat considerable weight of the ammunition bodies requires a lot of force and is not very ergonomic.

In order to keep the effort required by the operator low, loading apparatus for storing ammunition bodies are also known that are configured in the manner of conveying chains, wherein one end is disposed in the region of the ammunition hold. The conveying chains extend from the higher-lying ammunition hold, at a downward angle, and have an ammunition receiver, for example in the form of a pick-up element that is disposed on the chain, in which an ammunition body can be placed in a lower-lying receiving position. The placement of the ammunition body into the ammunition receiver takes little effort on the part of the operator, since the ammunition receiver in its receiving position lies significantly lower than does the ammunition hold of the ammunition magazine. By subsequent actuation of the conveying chain, the ammunition receiver, and with it the ammunition body, can then be brought from the lower-lying receiving position, along a lifting path that often overcomes a considerable height difference, into the storage position in the region of the ammunition hold.

Although this type of loading saves the operator a lot of effort, it nonetheless has the drawback that the conveying chain construction is relatively expensive and does not have a compact configuration. Since after loading has been completed a dismantling of the loading apparatus requires too much time, which especially within the framework of a continuous battle situation would be associated with great danger, the loading apparatus, even after loading of the ammunition magazine has been completed, remain in a position externally of the ammunition hold. Thus, over somewhat long periods of time the loading apparatus are exposed, for example, to weather influences, contaminations, and hostile threats in the external region of the ammunition magazine or the weapon. Especially in the framework of longer-lasting use in sandy desert regions, this can lead to considerable impairment of the loading apparatus, and ultimately to its failure.

It is an object of the invention to provide an apparatus, and ammunition magazine, as well as a method for loading an ammunition magazine, which are characterized by a low susceptibility to failure.

This object is inventively realized for an apparatus of the aforementioned type in that the ammunition holder is movable along the lifting path by means of a swivel arm.

By means of a swivel arm that is disposed in the region of the ammunition hold, it's easily possible to move the heavy ammunition bodies from a lower-lying receiving position, which is located approximately at the level of the transport pallet, along the lifting path and into the higher-lying storage position in the region of the ammunition hold, from where the ammunition bodies can then be placed in the interior of the ammunition magazine of the weapon via automated handling means. By the use of the swivel arm, a compact, only slightly vulnerable construction of the loading apparatus results that after the conclusion of the loading can be rapidly stowed in the interior of the ammunition magazine.

Pursuant to a specific embodiment of the invention, it is proposed that the ammunition holder be pivotably connected with the swivel arm. The pivotable connection between ammunition holder and swivel arm permits a reciprocal pivoting. For example, the ammunition holder, and hence the ammunition body, can, independently of the pivot movements of the swivel arm, under the effect of the force of gravity, always remain in a vertically oriented position, so that the ammunition body can be conveyed along the lifting path in a vertical orientation, and can be appropriately stored.

Pursuant to a further specific embodiment, the movements of the swivel arm can be coupled in a parallelogram-like manner with the movements of the ammunition holder. The parallelogram-coupling can in particular be such that the ammunition bodies are movable along the lifting path in an orientation that is parallel to the ammunition holder. By means of the parallelogram-coupling, a defined orientation between the swivel arm and the ammunition holder can always be maintained independent of the position of the weapon. For example, with a weapon that is in an inclined firing position, it is possible in this manner to always move the ammunition holder parallel to the opening of the ammunition hold, as a result of which the ammunition bodies always enter the opening of the ammunition hold in the same position, and can subsequently be removed in a defined manner via automated handling means and can be stored in the ammunition magazine.

Pursuant to one structurally advantageous configuration, the swivel arm can be provided with a parallelogram-shaped linkage. Parallelogram-shaped linkages have a structurally straightforward design, and have proven themselves to be robust and only slightly vulnerable.

It is furthermore proposed that the parallelogram-shaped linkage have an upper connection rod and a lower connection rod, the free ends of which are coupled via an intermediate link for the connection of the ammunition holder.

Pursuant to a further advantageous specific embodiment, the swivel arm can be mounted in the region of the ammunition hold. The mounting of the swivel arm can, in particular, be disposed on the outer side of the ammunition hold, so that the loading apparatus is also suitable as a retrofit for ammunition magazines that are already in operation.

Pursuant to one structurally advantageous configuration, the upper and the lower connection rods can be connected at their foot ends to a drive shaft. The drive shaft can, for example, be connected to a drive element in the shape of a segment of a gear wheel, which is meshingly engaged by a drive gear of the drive line of a drive mechanism that is formed, for example, by an electric motor. By actuating the electric motor, the ammunition holder can easily be pivoted back and forth between the receiving and the storing positions.

The ammunition holder is advantageously provided with a loading platform on which an ammunition body can be placed from above for support, so that the ammunition body can be conveyed along the lifting path in an upright manner.

With regard to a reliable transport of the ammunition body along the lifting path, of advantage is a configuration according to which the ammunition holder is provided with a holding or retaining device for the secure positioning of the ammunition body. The retaining device can, in particular, be embodied in the manner of clamping jaws that are actuatable by their own weight. Upon placement of the ammunition body upon the retaining device, the clamping jaws rest from the outside, against the force of a spring, against the ammunition body, as a result of which the ammunition body is secured in position for the lifting path. By raising the ammunition body during removal thereof, the clamping jaws release, and the ammunition body can be removed from the ammunition holder.

It is furthermore proposed with an ammunition magazine of the aforementioned type, to realize the previously mentioned object in that the loading apparatus be configured in accordance with one of the preceding claims.

By means of a swivel arm that is disposed in the region of the ammunition hold, the heavy ammunition can be easily moved from a lower-lying receiving position, which is located approximately at the level of a transport pallet, along a lifting path and into the higher-lying storage position in the region of the ammunition hold, from which the ammunition body, by means of automated handling means, can be stored in the interior of the ammunition magazine of the weapon. By use of the swivel arm there results a compact, only slightly vulnerable construction of the loading apparatus, which can be stowed in the interior of the ammunition magazine after loading has been completed.

With respect to the configuration of the ammunition magazine, it is further proposed that the swivel arm be disposed on the outer side of the ammunition hold. Due to the arrangement on the outer side, the swivel arm is also particularly suitable as a retrofit for ammunition magazines that are already in service.

Pursuant to a further configuration of the ammunition magazine, the drive for the pivoting of the swivel arm can be disposed in the interior of the weapon.

Pursuant to a further configuration of the ammunition magazine, in a storage position the swivel arm can rest against an outer edge of the opening, as a result of which the actual opening area is not obstructed by the swivel arm in the storage position. Furthermore, there results a compact end position of the swivel arm in its storage position.

The opening of the ammunition hold can advantageously be closed by means of a hatch cover, which covers the swivel arm in its storage position. After closing of the hatch cover, the swivel arm is located in the protective interior, and is not exposed to contamination, weather influences, and similar adverse effects. The hatch cover is preferably provided with a hollow space or cavity that is directed toward the interior of the weapon, so that the hold cover covers the swivel arm with a type of closure collar.

Finally, with a method of the aforementioned type for realizing the object, it is proposed that the loading apparatus be configured in the manner described above, and that the ammunition holder be moved along the lifting path by means of a swivel arm.

By means of a swivel arm that is disposed in the region of the ammunition hold, the heavy ammunition bodies can be easily moved from a lower-lying receiving position, which is disposed approximately at the level of the transport pallet, along the lifting path and into the higher-lying storage position in the region of the ammunition hold, from which the ammunition bodies can then be stored in the interior of the ammunition magazine via automated handling means. By the use of the swivel arm, there results a compact construction of the loading apparatus that is only slightly vulnerable, and that after loading has been completed can be stowed in the interior of the ammunition magazine.

Further details and advantages of the invention will be described in detail subsequently with the aid of the accompanying drawings of an exemplary embodiment, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view from above of a weapon having a loading apparatus at the start of the process of loading an ammunition magazine that is disposed in the weapon,

FIGS. 2-5 are a number of perspective views of the loading apparatus, as viewed from the side, to illustrate the loading process, and

FIG. 6 is a detailed perspective view of a weapon with the loading apparatus.

FIG. 1 is a perspective illustration of a loading situation in which a plurality of upright ammunition bodies 9 that are disposed on a transport pallet 16 have been transported to an ammunition magazine 1 that is formed from an ordnance turret.

The ordnance is an artillery cannon that is composed of a chain-drive mechanism 1.1 and an ordnance turret 1.2 that is mounted so as to be rotatable relative to the chain-drive mechanism 1.1; the artillery cannon is operated with ammunition bodies 9 having a weight of approximately 50 kg. The actual weapon tube is disposed in the ordnance turret 1.2 in a conventional manner so that it can be adjusted or aimed about an axis of elevation, and is operated with ammunition bodies 9 stockpiled in the ordnance turret 1.2. The interior of the ordnance turret 1.2 thus forms the ammunition magazine 1 for the operation of the weapon tube. For loading the ammunition magazine 1, the ammunition bodies 9 are introduced into the interior of the ordnance turret 1.2 by means of an ammunition hatch or hold 10.

To make the work of an operator 15 that is standing in front of the ammunition hold 10 easier during loading of the ammunition magazine 1 of the weapon, a loading apparatus 2 is provided, with the aid of which the ammunition bodies 9 can be conveyed from a lower-lying receiving position externally of the ammunition magazine 1 into a storage position in the vicinity of the ammunition hold 10. For this purpose, initially the hatch cover 11 of the hold 10 is opened, as a result of which the actual hatch opening 12, and hence the path for the ammunition bodies 9 into the interior of the ammunition magazine 1, is opened.

Subsequently, a pivoting or swivel arm 4 of the loading apparatus 2 is pivoted out of its upper and position into a lower-lying receiving position in which, at approximately the level of the ammunition body 9 that is disposed on the transport pallet 16, there is disposed an ammunition receptacle or holder 3 that is pivotably connected with the swivel arm 4. In this position, the operator 15 can remove an ammunition body 9 from the transport pallet 16 and insert it into the ammunition holder 3, without in so doing having to overcome great differences in height. By means of a subsequent actuation of the loading apparatus 2, the swivel arm 4 pivots upwardly. In so doing, the ammunition holder 3, and hence the ammunition body 9, are pivoted along an arc-shaped or arcuate lifting path into a higher storage position in the region of the ammunition hold 10 (see FIGS. 2 to 5).

After the ammunition body 9 has arrived in the storage position, it is automatically removed from the ammunition holder 3 by means of handling devices provided in the interior of the ordnance turret 1.2 and is stored on a control location provided for that purpose in the interior of the ordnance turret 1.2. Subsequently, the ammunition holder 3 is pivoted back into its receiving position, and the process is repeated until the ammunition magazine 1 is fully loaded.

Details of the loading apparatus 2 and of the ammunition hold 10 will be provided subsequently, especially with the aid of the illustrations found in FIGS. 1 and 6.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of the loading apparatus 2 in its receiving position, with an ammunition body 9 already having been placed into the ammunition holder 3. As the essential element, the loading apparatus 2 is provided with a swivel arm 4, one end of which is pivotably disposed in the region of the ammunition hold 10, and the other end of which is connected to the ammunition holder 3. The swivel arm 4 is provided with a parallelogram-shaped linkage, including an upper connection rod 4.2 and a lower connection rod 4.1, which are coupled to one another in the vicinity of their free ends by means of an intermediate link 4.3. The ammunition holder 3 is pivotably connected to the swivel arm 4. By means of a rigid connection with the intermediate link 4.3, there results a movement of the ammunition holder 3 that is guided in a parallelogram-shaped manner, as a result of which the ammunition holder 3, independent of the position of the weapon 1, always enters into the region of the ammunition hold 10 in the same defined position.

The foot end of the lower connection rod 4.1 is rigidly connected to a drive shaft 5. To reinforce this connection, an angle brace 8 is provided in the region of the connection. The ends of the drive shaft 5 are rotatably mounted in pivot bearings 6, and the shaft extends parallel to a lower edge or frame portion 12.1 of the hatch opening 12, with the drive shaft 5 and the pivot bearings 6 being disposed on the outer side of the hatch opening 12. To rotate the drive shaft 5, and hence to pivot the swivel arm 4, a toothed segment 7 configured in the manner of a portion of a toothed ring is provided that is connected with the drive shaft 5 so as to rotate together therewith. The toothed segment 7 is engaged by a gear wheel 21 of a drive line 20 that extends parallel to the drive shaft 5 in the interior of the weapon and that is driven by means of a drive mechanism 22 that is disposed in the weapon 1.

The upper connection rod 4.2 is rotatably mounted on a vertical frame section 12.2 of the hatch opening 12 on the outer side thereof, and is pivotably connected with the intermediate link 4.3, so that upon actuation of the drive mechanism 22, a movement, that is guided in a parallelogram-shaped manner, of the ammunition holder 3 that is connected to the intermediate link 4.3 results along the lifting path.

The ammunition holder 3 has an overall elongated geometry, and is provided at its lower end with a loading platform 3.1 that preferably extends horizontally, and on which the ammunition bodies 9 can be placed in an upright manner. The ammunition holder 3 is coupled with the swivel arm 4 in such a way that the ammunition bodies 9 are moved along the lifting path with the longitudinal axis of the ammunition bodies 9 always parallel to the vertical axis of the ordnance turret 1.2, in other words parallel to the ammunition hold 10. To secure the position of the ammunition body 9 during the lifting process, provided on the ammunition holder 3, above the loading platform 3.1, are retaining devices 3.2 that laterally embrace the ammunition body 9 and in this way fix it in an upright position for the transport along the lifting path. In the illustrated embodiment, the retaining devices 3.2 are configured in the manner of clamping jaws that are actuated by their own weight and that upon introduction of the ammunition body 9 rest against the surface of the ammunition body 9 against the force of a spring, and upon vertical removal of the ammunition body 9 automatically disengage due to release of the tension of the spring.

FIG. 5 shows the loading apparatus 2 shortly before reaching a storage position. When the storage position is reached, a loading platform 3.1 of the ammunition holder 3 is located within the hatch opening 12 above the drive shaft 5 or the drive line 20. In this position, the ammunition body 9 can be removed from the ammunition holder 3 via an automated handling system, and can be stowed in the interior of the ammunition magazine 1.

In the storage position, the swivel arm 4 rests from the outside against a lateral frame portion 12.2 of the hatch opening 12. During closing of the hatch cover 11, all of the elements of the loading apparatus 2 are covered by the hatch cover 11, so that they are disposed in the inner region in a protected manner, where they are protected from the influences of weather, hostile threats, etc. For this purpose, the hatch cover 11.1 is provided with a closure collar that extends all the way around, and that encloses elements of the loading apparatus 2 that are disposed externally of the hatch opening 12.

REFERENCE NUMERALS

  • 1 Ammunition magazine
  • 1.1 Chain-drive mechanism
  • 1.2 Ordnance turret
  • 2 Loading apparatus
  • 3 Ammunition receptacle or holder
  • 3.1 Loading platform
  • 3.2 Retaining device
  • 4 Pivoting or swivel arm
  • 4.1 Connection rod
  • 4.2 Connection rod
  • 4.3 Intermediate link
  • 5 Drive shaft
  • 6 Pivot bearing
  • 7 Toothed segment
  • 8 Angle brace
  • 9 Ammunition body
  • 10 Ammunition hatch or hold
  • 11 Hatch cover
  • 12 Hatch opening
  • 12.1 Lower edge or frame portion
  • 12.2 Lateral frame section
  • 15 Operator
  • 16 Pallet
  • 20 Drive line
  • 21 Gear wheel
  • 22 Drive mechanism