The paper is the second part of a study of the failure of the insulation of a layer of dielectric fluid of arbitrary volume, occupying a hole in a solid dielectric sheet, when stressed by an applied electric field. In part 1 symmetric and asymmetric equilibria were found for the two-dimensional problem, using an approximation given by Taylor (1968) for the electric field, which is valid for large holes. In this paper axisymmetric equilibria are given for a circular hole, under the same conditions. In addition the points of bifurcation of asymmetric solutions have been found, and provide sufficient information to give the stability characteristics. It is found that when the volume-excess fraction δ exceeds a value of approximately −0·3 instability occurs in an asymmetric form reported earlier for large holes by Michael, O'Neill & Zuercher (1971) in the case δ = 0. For δ < −0·3 the nature of the instability changes to an axisymmetric form of failure associated with a maximum of the loading parameter.
The analysis given shows that axisymmetric displacements of ‘sausage’ mode type, that is, symmetric about a centre-plane, are associated with small changes in the static pressure in the dielectric layer. Such modes have not previously been examined in this context, and in an appendix to this paper Michael & O'Neill give an analysis of them when δ = 0, valid for all hole sizes, by extending the small perturbation analysis of Michael, O'Neill & Zuercher. These modes however do not provide the most unstable displacements for any configuration, and do not therefore affect the stability from a physical point of view.