CMC Leopard by Amodel
Kit No. 72337
Decals: One version – British civil registration “G-BRNM”
Comments: Short run kit; relatively few parts; lightly engraved panel lines may need reinforcing
The CMC Leopard-2 was the second prototype of a new aircraft intended to launch a new generation of business jets in Great Britain in the late 1990’s. Built by a firm called Chichester Miles (CMC), it was unveiled at the 1996 Farnborough International Airshow, and flew for the first time on April 9, 1997. The first prototype was powered by two Noel Penny Turbines NPT301 turbojets, and first flew in December 1988. Chichester Miles stopped development of the first aircraft, and instead focused on the second, the Leopard-2, and improved version powered by Williams FJX-1 turbofan engines.
With a wingspan of 25 feet, and a length just 10 inches longer, the CMC Leopard-2 was one of the smallest and most compact personal jets ever designed. A high-performance, 4-seat twin turbojet aircraft, it was a mid-wing monoplane of composite construction with all-swept flying surfaces and jet fighter-like styling, apart from the podded engines, mounted on each side of the rear fuselage. The entire canopy hinged forward to allow access to the four reclining seats. It was advertised by CMC as “offering the personal and business user all the benefits of travel-on-demand in an efficient and economical size, but with all the smoothness and comfort of the high flying 500 mph executive jet.”
The Leopard project never progressed beyond the two aircraft built, in part because of its hefty pricetag (just over $1.3 million apiece) and the fact that it was being marketed around the time of the Dot Com bust of the late nineties, and the beginning of a prolonged international recession. Whatever hopes might have existed for a revival of the type in better economic times faded with the death of chief aircraft designer and CMC chairman, Ian Chichester-Miles, in 2009.
Until 2007, both prototype Leopards, G-BKRL and G-BRNM, were on display at the Bournemouth Aviation Museum. With the museum temporary closure and relocation in 2008, only the former was retained and moved to the new site, while G-BRNM was acquired by the Midland Air Museum at Coventry Airport.
Amodel’s CMC Leopard is injection molded in grey and consisted of 39 parts, including a single large clear plastic part for the windshield and cabin windows which also forms the cabin roof. There are lightly engraved panel lines that in some places will need reinforcement. The cockpit consists of four seats with engravings simulating upholstered detail — a nice touch for this scale — and an instrument panel with sunken dials, together with a separate instrument panel hood, but no control yoke. There is also a rear bulkhead and a central divider to be cemented to along the length of the cockpit floor, separating the seats.
The jet engine nacelles are rather simple affairs consisting of two halves with rather rudimentary parts meant to represent intake fans and exhausts — they’ll do, but they are nothing exceptional. A surprising feature of the landing gear is that the wheels are so unexpectedly small, underscoring the diminutive size of this jet in general. Still, one wonders if the tires are really to scale. The landing gear doors are rather simple and have the gear themselves molded to the doors as a single part.
The wings and tail are quite small but are to scale. The wings have molded in wheel wells, an unexpected feature on such a small kit, and the wings are so thin that when you hold them up to the light, the plastic inside the wheel wells is completely translucent — care will have to be taken not to accidentally poke a hole through it with a hobby knife! The clear part for the canopy/windshield features well-molded framing, an improvement over early Amodel offerings that will facilitate painting.
As for the markings, Amodel does not have a particularly good reputation with its decals, and I have frequently Amodel decals with aftermarket examples. Often they are either translucent or lack realistic color. The Leopard’s decals, consisting of the Leopard logo, half a dozen Union Jacks, fuel doors and emergency access signs along with the registration call letters, are a vast improvement as far as the color is concerned, and there is even a marking for the instrument panel, which may require a fair amount of solvent to get it to snuggle into the sunken contours of the panel dials on the part provided.
Another criticism I have had of Amodel markings is that they are notoriously flat in their finish, which is theoretically curable with a good gloss coat, but can be so bad it affects final appearance of the markings. The Leopard’s markings are quite flat, so much so that it may be difficult to obtain that “painted on” look that banishes all silvering and air pockets. While these markings represent real improvement, it’s still not clear they will get the job done. The instruction sheet calls out Humbrol colors and indicates a rather unusual color for the cabin interior: Pale Stone.
This is a fascinating little kit of a prototype British business jet that might have been. It might be better modeled in 1/48 scale to bring out more detail, but it is highly recommended simply for the unusual subject.
- History of Personal Jets ~ www.machdiamonds.com