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Anybody know what these windows were used for?

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From Wikipedia: Boeing 737:

Most 737 cockpits are equipped with "eyebrow windows" positioned above the main glareshield. Eyebrow windows were a feature of the original 707 and 727. They allowed for greater visibility in turns, and offered better sky views if navigating by stars. With modern avionics, they became redundant, and many pilots actually placed newspapers or other objects in them to block out sun glare. They were eliminated from the 737 cockpit design in 2004, although they are still installed at customer request. These windows are sometimes removed and plugged, usually during maintenance overhauls, and can be distinguished by the metal plug which differs from the smooth metal in later aircraft that were not originally fitted with the windows.

Boeing has also determined that removing the windows reduced the cockpit noise by about 3 decibels. The newer models have 10 vortex generators above the cockpit where the windows used to be. It also reduces maintenance costs.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Better sky views if navigating by the stars" is a little nonsensical. Actual celestial navigation is done with a sextant, not by looking at stars through a window. I think the origin was for aerial refueling, where the receiver could use those windows to see the tanker. And from there they were carried over to the 707 and 727 as discussed. But without the AR mission, they were pretty useless & just let sunlight in where it wasn't particularly desirable. Eventually Boeing caught on to what pilots all over already knew full well. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 3:43
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ Luckily I didn't write the Wikipedia article, I can't refute the claim though, the sextant needs to see both the horizon and a known star. Either way I think the issue was also visibility in turns, or while waiting to take the runway to clear the pattern. The newer 737's have larger windows to improve visibility. I've never sat in a 737 cockpit to say visibility was good/bad to really make an educated comment on it though. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 3:57

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