by: Is a secret [ ]
Originally published on:
The Boeing 737 is the most successful airliner of all time. It has been in continuous production since its introduction in December of 1967. Since then, the design has been modified into 9 different commercial versions, several military versions, 3 different corporate versions and almost uncountable minor variations. There are, on average, 1,250 Boeing 737s airborne at any given time, with one departing or landing somewhere in the world every five seconds.
This is the second of Squadron's At The Gate series, the first being the DC-9/MD-80. The book is in softcover, with 222 full colour photographs on 96 pages. The front and rear covers showcase two of Don Greer's evocative paintings.
The book begins with a short history of the design process that led to the 737's creation, its introduction into service, its near cancellation and subsequent multiple re-inventions into the world-beater it currently is. The 737 is once again being redesigned and demand for the aircraft shows no sign of slowing down. 737s will continue to fly for many years to come. It is not far-fetched to expect that they will still be flying on the 100th anniversary of the 737-100's first flight on April 9th, 2067.
The book is divided into12 major sections. One section is devoted to each sub type, one for the Boeing Business Jet, one for military versions, a section on NASA's use of the first prototype as a research aircraft, and a bonus 3 photographs of 737s in special liveries (something that can easily fill an entirely separate book, and in fact has, several times over).
Each section begins with a 3 view line drawing and specifications box, a short body of text describing the version's maor features and then continues with multiple photographs illustrating only a few of the myriad colour schemes given to the 737 by its operators. The line drawings are somewhat crude compared to those we are familiar with in Squadron's In Action series, and even compared to those in the DC-9 book that launched the At The Gate series. The photos are all clear, nicely reproduced and well presented. The many differences between the 737's versions are clearly illustrated.
A special section showcases the work of NASA 515, the prototype 737. After finishing its development flying for Boeing, this aircraft was taken over by NASA and used to explore future technologies for transport aircraft. A complete second flight deck was installed in the cabin, with CRT screens in place of cockpit windows. The aircraft could be flown from either flight deck. This setup allowed NASA to pioneer, develop and test the now ubiquitous 'glass cockpit' EFIS system we take so much for granted. The aircraft also tested a wind shear detection system, microwave landing system, high lift wings and other behind the scenes systems that make flying today so much safer than it was at the time the 737 was introduced. Retired in 1997, it now resides in Seattle's Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, parked beside the prototype 747, Concorde G-BOAG and many other historic aircraft.
Given the thousands of 737s that exist, a book this size is not nearly large enough to illustrate more than a fraction of the different liveries they wore, nor can it showcase the many different places they serve. It can only scratch the surface of the history of the aircraft and its many operators.
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