After the Carter Administration's cancellation of the B-1A program due to fiscal concerns, the rise of air-launched cruise missiles and the possibility of developing a stealth bomber, Boeing put forward a low-risk, relatively cheap, cruise missile delivery vehicle alternative based on the mighty 747. It was called the Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft, or CMCA for short.
The idea was relatively simple, turn the premier long-range commercial hauler into an arsenal ship capable of carrying between 50 and 100 air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs). At the time the AGM-86 air-launched cruise missile was all the rage (it is still in service today) so the 747 CMCA concept was built with the 21ft winged missile in mind.
The configuration was fairly straight forward, the design was based on the 747-200C, a nose-loading cargo derivative of the ubiquitous airliner, with nine rotary launchers mounted on tracks inside of the stripped-out cabin. Each rotary launcher would hold eight missiles, and they could be slid back into a launching position at the rear right side of the aircraft via the help of an overhead handling system.
A bay door on the right side of the 747's tail cone would open and an ejector system would punch the missiles out into the air stream and send them on their way either one at a time, or in rapid succession.
In this configuration, a single 747 CMCA could launch 72 AGM-86 ALCMs on a single sortie, which is absolutely impressive considering a B-52 can carry up to 20. Satellite data links and other forms of communication could have allowed for the CMCA's missiles to be re-programmed from external sources while the aircraft was already in flight. The "hump" area behind the cockpit that is usually reserved for first class passengers on airline versions of the 747 had enough square footage that limited command and control and network relay functions could be added to the basic CMCA concept..................