In 1963, the United States Air Force started a series of study projects on a very large strategic transport aircraft. Although the C-141 Starlifter was being introduced, they felt that a much larger and more capable aircraft was needed, especially the capability to carry outsized cargo that would not fit in any existing aircraft. These studies led to initial requirements for the CX-Heavy Logistics System (CX-HLS) in March 1964 for an aircraft with a load capacity of 180,000 pounds (81,600 kg) and a speed of Mach 0.75 (500 mph/805 km/h), and an unrefueled range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km) with a payload of 115,000 pounds (52,200 kg). The payload bay had to be 17 feet (5.18 m) wide by 13.5 feet (4.11 m) high and 100 feet (30.5 m) long with access through doors at the front and rear.
Featuring only four engines, the design also required new engine designs with greatly increased power and better fuel economy. On May 18, 1964, airframe proposals arrived from Boeing, Douglas, General Dynamics, Lockheed and Martin Marietta; while engine proposals were submitted by General Electric, Curtiss-Wright, and Pratt & Whitney. After a downselect, Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed were given additional study contracts for the airframe, along with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney for the engines.
All three of the airframe proposals shared a number of features. As the CX-HLS needed to be able to be loaded from the front, a door had to be included where the cockpit usually was. All of the companies solved this problem by moving the cockpit to above the cargo area; Douglas had a small “pod” just forward and above the wing, Lockheed used a long “spine” running the length of the aircraft with the wing spar passing through it, while Boeing blended the two, with a longer pod that ran from just behind the nose to just behind the wing. In 1965 Lockheed’s aircraft design and General Electric’s engine design were selected for the new C-5 Galaxy transport, which was the largest military aircraft in the world at the time. The nose door and raised cockpit concepts would be carried over to the design of the 747.
Courtesy: Wikkipedia