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Recognising certain variants of the Boeing 737

The original series[1]
On 19 February 1965 Boeing announced that it would build the Boeing 737, which would be competition for the BAC 1-11 and Douglas DC-9. This would become the 737-100. This model was replaced by the larger, more powerful Model 737-200. The Model 737-200 became the standard variant and only 30 Boeing 737-100s were built. The series -200 first flew in September 1968. The last of the 1 114 Boeing 737-200s built was delivered to China in August 1988.
The classical series
The amazing success achieved with the Boeing 737 led to the introduction of the series -300, -400 and -500. The go-ahead for the 737-300 was given in March 1981. The engines chosen for the Boeing 737-300, 737-400 and 737-500 were CFM56s, which are not only more powerful, but considerably quieter than the power plants of the earlier variants. All three models have a common wing span, with a slight increase on the -200, while the overall height is slightly reduced. The fuselage of the Model 737-300 was increased over that of the -200, which resulted in a maximum capacity of 149 passengers. The three variants have common two-crew cockpits featuring improved avionics. The introduction of the series -400 brought an even greater fuselage stretch, which resulted in a maximum passenger-carrying capacity of 170. The popular Boeing 737-200 was replaced by the B737-500. The type was launched in May 1987. The fuselage of the Boeing 737-500 is slightly longer than that of the B737-200.
The original and classical series
The Boeing 737-100, 737-200, 737-300, 737-400 and 737-500 have identical fuselage width and height.
The next-generation series
It soon became clear that prospective Boeing customers wanted an updated series of Boeing 737 variants, which would offer increased payload, range, speed and better take-off performance, but that would maintain the established dispatch reliability of the Boeing 737. Thus the Boeing 737 Next Generation was born, which consisted of the Model 737-600, 737-700 and 737-800, equating to the Boeing 737-500, 737-300 and 737-400 respectively. The new variants featured an increased wing span and higher tailfin, while the wing area was increased by 25 percent, which provided an increase of 30 percent in fuel capacity. The power plants for all three variants are CFM56-7 engines, which provide greater thrust than the CFM56-3 engines that power the Model 737-300, 737-400 and 737-500. The dash 600 equates to the Boeing 737-500, the dash 700 equates to the Boeing 737-300 and the dash 800 is a stretched version of the Boeing 737-400 and was launched on 5 September 1994. The first next-generation 737, the first B737-700, was rolled out on 8 December 1996. The prototype of the Boeing 737-800 was rolled out on 30 June 1997. The next-generation Boeing 737s can fly higher, faster, farther and with lower operating and maintenance costs than their predecessors. The maximum passenger capacities of these models are 132 for -600, 149 for the -700 and 189 for the -800. There is also the Boeing 737-900.
The original series
The following variants can be distinguished[2]:
Model 737-100 (80 to 101 passengers; Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7 engines; four customers, 30 examples; last one delivered on 2 November 1969)
Model 737-200 (longer than 737-100; up to 130 passengers; power plants Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9-15 or -17 turbofans in new nacelles; higher gross weight than 737-100; first delivery on 29 December 1967)
Advanced Model 737-200 (starting with the 135th 737-200 in May 1971, this version became the production standard; range increased; thrust reversers replaced by new target type, which added noticeable extension of 45 inches to the rear of the nacelles; higher cruising speed; higher take-off weight; kits for these changes were available for upgrading of earlier 737-200s; Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A[3] engines)
The classical series
Model 737-300 (CFM56-3B engines; structural and aerodynamic improvements adapted from Models 757 and 767; longer fuselage; increased wing span; up to 149 passengers; prototype 737-300 rolled on 17 January 1984, maiden flight on 24 February 1984)
Model 737-400 (stretched version of 737-300; up to 168 passengers; higher gross weight, reinforced wing and undercarriage structure; CFM-56 engines; prototype rolled on 26 January 1988, first flight 19 February 1988)
Model 737-500 [replacement of discontinued 737-200, 1 foot 7 inches (47 centimetres) longer than -200); maximum passenger capacity 132; equipment, systems and CFM56-3-B engines of 737-300 and 737-400; maiden flight of the prototype -500 was on 30 June 1989]
The new-generation series
Model 737-600 (CFM56-7B engines; 18 August 1998 FAA type certification granted; 18 September 1998 launch customer SAS took delivery of its first 737-600; rollout of the first 737-600 took place on 8 December 1997, maiden flight 22 January 1998)
Model 737-700 (the first series -700 was rolled out on 8 December 1996, maiden flight 9 February 1997; CFM56-7B engines)
Model 737-800 (the prototype of the -800 was rolled out on 30 June 1997, first flight 31 July 1997; CFM56-7B engines)
Model 737-900 (the -900 series was launched in November 1997)
The Boeing 737-200
Gravel-runway kit
The Boeing 737-200 could be equipped with a gravel-runway kit[4].

A gravel-deflector plate was added behind the nosewheel. It remained outside the fuselage when the undercarriage was retracted.

A small tube projecting forward from the bottom of each nacelle directs blast air ahead of the nacelle to break up the inward-rushing vortices that can suck gravel from the ground and force it into the jet intakes.
Engine installation

The Boeing 737-200 has a Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine in an underslung pod.
Number of windows in the fuselage
The Boeing 737 series 200 can have 17 windows in the rear fuselage and 16 windows in the forward fuselage.

Overwing exit

The Model 737-200 has one overwing exit.
Boeing 737-300
Engine installation
The CFM56-3B engine was selected to power the Boeing 737-300. This necessitated a different installation. The new engine was moved entirely ahead of the wing and raised so that the top of the nacelle is even with the upper surface of the wing (see Boeing Aircraft).
Number of windows in the fuselage
The Boeing 737 series 300 can have 18 windows in the rear fuselage and 17 windows in the forward fuselage.

Overwing exit
The Model 737-300 has one overwing exit.
Noticeable dorsal fin
The increased length of the Boeing 737-300 fuselage required an extension of the lower portion of the vertical fin into a noticeable dorsal fin (see Boeing Aircraft).
Boeing 737-400
Engine installation

To give adequate ground clearance the engine casing of the CFM56 was flattened and some ancillary equipment was relocated to the bulged part on the side of the engine. Similarly, the engine mounting is wrapped around the wing rather than suspended from the wing as in the case of the series -200.
Number of windows in the fuselage
The Boeing 737 series 400 can have 20 windows in the rear fuselage and 16 windows in the forward fuselage, with spaces between them.

There is space for two more windows.

Note the space after the 12th window and between the next window and the three thereafter.
Overwing exits

The Model 737-400 has two overwing exits.
Tail bumper and noticeable dorsal fin

Because the Boeing 737-400 is longer than the Boeing 737-200, a tail bumper was fitted to protect the underside of the fuselage should the rear part of the aircraft come into contact with the runway in case of overrotation. Apparently there were instances where this occurred. Like the Model 737-300, the Model 737-400 also has a noticeable dorsal fin.
Boeing 737-500
Engine installation

The standard power plants of the Boeing 737-500 are CFM56-3-Bs.
Number of windows in the fuselage
The Boeing 737 series 500 can have 16 windows in the rear fuselage and 13 windows in the forward fuselage (with spaces between them).

Overwing exit

The Model 737-500 has one overwing exit.
Boeing 737-700
Engine installation

The Boeing 737-700 is powered by CFM56-7B engines.
Number of windows in the fuselage
The Boeing 737 series 700 can have 18 windows in the rear fuselage and 15 windows in the forward fuselage (with spaces between them).

Note the two rows of windows. There is space for two more windows before the forward entry door.
Overwing exit

The Model 737-700 has one overwing exit.
Boeing 737-800
Engine installation

The Boeing 737-800 is powered by CFM56-7B engines.
Number of windows in the fuselage
The Boeing 737 series 800 can have 23 windows in the rear fuselage and 18 windows in the forward fuselage.

Overwing exits

The Model 737-800 has two overwing exits.
Tail bumper and noticeable dorsal fin

Being the equivalent of the Boeing 737-400, the series 800 also has a tail bumper and noticeable dorsal fin.

The number of windows of the classical and next-generation series
The number of windows on the Boeing 737-300, 737-400, 737-500, 737-700 and 737-800 differs. The Boeing 737-300 can have thirty-five windows, the Boeing 737-400 thirty-six windows, the Boeing 737-500 twenty-nine windows, the Boeing 737-700 thirty-three windows and the Boeing 737-800 forty-one windows. The groupings of the windows also differ in that the windows can have various spaces between them.
This article is based on Boeing Aircraft and Boeing 737-300 to -800. Other sources were used as well, and these are listed in the list of sources below.
Boeing 737-300 to -800 = Boeing 737-300 to -800; Robbie Shaw; Airlife Publishing; 1999
Boeing 737 ORG United Kingdom = a website at http://www.b737.org.uk
Boeing Aircraft = Boeing Aircraft since 1916; Peter M Bowers; Putnam Aeronautical Books; 1989
Jane’s 1981 to 1982 = Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1981-82: The annual record of aviation development and progress; compiled and edited by John WR Taylor, who was assisted by David Mondey, Kenneth Munson, Bill Gunston, Michael Taylor, Maurice Allward and The Lord Ventry; Jane’s Publishing Company; 1981
COPYRIGHT to images Gabriel le Roux/Aviationpics.co.za 2018; otherwise actual dates as indicated on the images

[1] The division of the Boeing 737 variants into the original, classical and next-generation series is not an official Boeing classification, but is done for convenience sake. See for instance Boeing 737 ORG United Kingdom.
[2] This distinction is based on Boeing Aircraft and Boeing 737-300 to -800.
[3] See Jane’s 1981 to 1982.
[4] The text of the following two captions is based on Boeing Aircraft.

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