This paper investigates the buckling of thin walled composite cylindrical tubes that are partially filled with solid propellant equivalent elastic filler. Experimental investigation is conducted on thin composite tubes made out of S2-glass epoxy, which is made by using filament winding technique. The composite tubes are filled with elastic filler having similar mechanical properties as that of a typical solid propellant used in rocket motors. The tubes are tested for their buckling strength against the external pressure in the presence of the filler. Experimental data confirms the enhancement of external pressure carrying capacity of the composite tubes by up to three times as that of empty tubes for a volumetric loading fraction (VLF) of 0.9. Furthermore, the finite element based geometric nonlinearity analysis predicts the buckling behaviour of the partially filled composite tubes close to the experimental results. © Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd.