34

I'm surprised there's no question about this.

With the cockpit being located far to the right of the ship, there is a gigantic pile of metal blocking a lot of view for the pilot.

The Falcon seems to be (at least partially) maneuvered by vision (windows), so what's the point in placing that capsule in such an extremely strange place?

31
+500

It's not nearly as bad as you'd think.

Looking at it from the correct angle, you can see that the cockpit windows are above the mandibles.

falcon photo

falcon photo 2

Falcon image

I went to Disney's Launch Bay, where they have an official replica of the Falcon, took photos, and highlighted the cockpit windows versus the top of the Falcon. As you can see, the cockpit could be better situated, but they have a largely unobstructed view out of the left side.

launch bay photo 1

launch bay photo 2

launch bay photo 3

  • 2
    It might not be as bad as one thinks, but it's still pretty bad. You'll still see a lot of ship when you look left while you see just open space when you look right. There's definitely a large blind spot to the left. – Ellesedil Jan 7 '16 at 20:14
  • 1
    There is basically a 90 degree blind spot to the right of the cockpit - not great in many respects... – Moo Jan 7 '16 at 22:06
  • 1
    I can't remember the source - but I remember reading that the Falcon was supposed to have a swivelling cockpit, but production budget limits put the kibosh on that. The idea was revisited for the B-Wings in RotJ. It does mean that, in flight, the cockpit would have a more even view (but still not in landing mode). – HorusKol Jan 7 '16 at 22:28
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    Look at the placement of the bridge on an aircraft carrier. Since the Millenium Falcon's original purpose was as a cargo craft, it would be designed to load and offload cargo as quickly as possible. Blind spots can be covered by cameras, and docking and undocking might have originally been automatic. – Howard Miller May 9 '16 at 2:09
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    @HowardMiller What Howard said - who says Han Solo and Chewbacca haven't installed cameras allowing the pilot to view blind spots? The same goes for TIE fighters. Pilots of the new F-35 fighter jet wear helmets which allow the pilot to see through their aircraft by seamlessly tying together images from cameras. I imagine it could be the same with TIE fighter pilots. – RobertF Sep 27 '16 at 13:29
25

You're not wrong. As this rather nice wireframe shows, by looking out from the cockpit we can determine that the view from the left side of the ship is almost totally non-existent (blocked by the mandibles) whereas the starboard and front views are completely unimpeded.

enter image description here

Based on the concept art below (and a quote from the fully canonical 'Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections' factbook) we learn that the cockpit position was a function of the ship's intended function as a freight-pusher.

With the mandibles holding a cargo pod in place, the cockpit is sufficiently far away that the pod doesn't block the view ahead and to the right, at the cost of a view of the other side of the ship.

enter image description here

The Falcon’s side-mounted cockpit and the front-facing mandibles recall her origins as an intermodal tug pushing containers in orbital freight yards. But as with many YT-1300s, an enterprising captain saw that her powerful engines and modular construction made her ideal for carrying cargoes of dubious legality. - Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections

  • 1
    Is this intented function as a freight-pusher ever shown in canon (not necessarily by the MF itself, a similar-shaped ship would be equally ok)? When was that image made? This seems to me more a tentative rationalization of that shape made afterwards than an original input leading to the Falcon's design. – lfurini May 8 '16 at 17:00
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    @lfurini - I've found a description of the Falcon's function in the new (and fully canonical) 'Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections' factbook.It confirms that the cockpit position is related to her primary task as a cargo pusher. – Valorum May 8 '16 at 18:12
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    @lfurini - I've found the origin of that concept art, it was drawn by Jason Fry (of 'Incredible Cross-sections' fame). It didn't make it into the book, but he shared it with fans on his discussion board. – Valorum May 8 '16 at 18:38
  • The mandibles were for cargo according to this snippet about an unreleased toy line, circa 1986, the F-LER (which became cannon once it was included in the Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual) : "... most of the surveyed pilots were not interested in the F-LER, because they thought that it would get in the way when loading cargo." – Mazura Jul 29 '16 at 9:20
7

"What's the point in placing that capsule in such an extremely strange place?"

This very question is (sort of) answered in Disney canon. In an inner monologue, Chewbacca is listing the reasons Luke thinks the Falcon is a piece of junk; one of them is:

Her cockpit, for reasons no one but the designers back at Corell Industries could understand, was posted to the starboard side, and jutted at an odd angle instead of being mounted on the center line.
- Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo and Chewbacca Adventure

So if the question is "Why is the cockpit where it is?", the Disney canon answer is "No one but the designers back at Corell Industries knows, but it seems weird in-universe as well as out-of-universe".

  • Good answer. +1 for Disney source. – Valorum Jul 29 '16 at 8:31
5

As many pointed out in this question, the Falcon wasn't exactly designed for dog fights. The ship has the body of a freighter and an engine that's likely the most overhauled in the galaxy. As such, the cockpit placement was likely considered "good enough" for its intended function.

3

Also, starships are largely flown using a sensor array. Pilots depend on their copilot and gunner as well as these sensors for input regarding situational awareness. It's not an automobile.

  • 2
    Welcome to SFF! Would you mind updating your answer with an edit (<-- click there) to provide some more details or resources that back up your claims? – user31178 May 8 '16 at 17:37
3

Well I for one just think they didn't think of it... I took this from Starwars.com - five things you didn't know about the Millennium Falcon:

  1. The original design wasn’t a hamburger

The initial look for the Millennium Falcon was much different. What was planned actually became the prototype for the Tantive IV. After the crew realized that the design looked too similar to the ship from Space: 1999, they had to go back to the drawing board and come up with something else in a hurry. Joe Johnston worked on the redesign, and that’s where the hamburger came in. Johnston told Starlog Magazine, “It was the quickest ship we’ve ever done. The Falcon was designed in one day. We took some components from the blockade runner, like the cockpit, and stuck it on the side of a big dish with some mandibles out in front.”

and yes while it does start with "not a hamburger" it does go on to say -

“It was the quickest ship we’ve ever done. The Falcon was designed in one day. We took some components from the blockade runner, like the cockpit, and stuck it on the side of a big dish with some mandibles out in front.”

Not a lot of thinking about angles and the ability to see the other side of the ship...

But who cares! It still looks great and is, I think we can all agree, the best ship in the Star Wars universe.

  • I'm reasonably certain that they'd have given some thought to sightlines when designing the ship, even if it was a rush-job... – Valorum May 9 '16 at 15:49
  • Not necessarily, If you look at all of the other ships in the Star Wars universe they are all unique in shape for easy identification during battles and so on. The Millennium Falcon is one of the most identifiable of them all. It is also one of the main ships throughout the series being as much a character in the movies as the characters. It could be said that they went for memorable rather than practical for their main ship or the series other than the Death Star. – Rincewind May 10 '16 at 5:37
0

The falcon has an excellent roll rate (note the nifty immilmen maneuver at cloud city) and "alluvial" (inertial) dampers. A bogey detected by sensors could easily be brought into the pilots field of vision with a flick of the wrist. Course could remain constant there is no up or down in space. Not bad for a souped up bulk freighter.

0

Short answer: Right of Way. On ocean vessels, the ship to the right has the right of way. This ties into the natural human instinct to be more attentive to objects on their right (dominant) side.

When you consider maneuvering through a crowded terminal where there are numerous other ships also maneuvering, you would need to have the clearest field of view of the ships to which you must yield right of way.

  • 1
    Do ships in the Star Wars universe have a right-of-way on the right? – Valorum Oct 16 '16 at 18:15

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