When portholes are put into a cylindrical hull, such as of a submarine or an airplane fuselage, is the glass window curved to match the curvature of the cylinder?

And if so, is the porthole wrapped around the cylinder so that orthographically it would appear wider than it is tall, but it retains the area of a circle,


is the porthole projected onto the side of the cylinder, so that it looks like a circle when viewed orthographically.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Glass can be produced with curves... smooth hulls reduce drag. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 13, 2019 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ Where does ortography come in to the picture? I believe you mean orthogonal $\endgroup$
    – MrGerber
    Feb 13, 2019 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ I mean neither ortographic nor orthogonal, but orthographic. $\endgroup$
    – Rekov
    Feb 13, 2019 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


Commercial aircraft windows (for the passengers) are cylindrical to match the cylindrical body of the plane. This is both stronger -- matching shape -- and more or less maintains a smooth, even drag surface. Their boundaries are near-rectangular just to match internal view angles from the seats.
OTOH, the cockpit windows are close to planar so as to minimize any view distortions that could make navigation difficult.

As to submarines -- there aren't any on military (in general) subs; research subs designed for deep investigations are as close to spherical as possible, and the glass is shaped that way as well. This is because strength is the main constraint, and as you probably know a sphere is the strongest configuration for pressure resistance.

Portholes on surface ships may be round for various historical reasons, but since they are usually above the water surface, they can be manufactured planar, saving cost and still meeting any strength needs.


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