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Sikorsky S-38 - $7.50

The Sikorsky S-38 was an American twin-engined 8-seat amphibious aircraft. It was sometimes called "The Explorer's Air Yacht" and was Sikorsky's first widely produced amphibious flying boat.

Sikorsky S-38 Flying Boat Amphibian

Sikorsky S-38 Flying Boat Amphibian

SIKORSKY S-38 cardmodel


With as many as 12 seats, 900 hp, and amphibious capabilities, the S-38 was a very useful airplane. Used by both corporate operators and airlines, the airplane proved itself as a long term airliner in several parts of the world. With its retractable landing gear, the airplane could be taxied in and out of the water, thus eliminating the need to load passengers at sea and also eliminating the need for a runway at either end of the trip.

S-38 cardmodel

The airplane was ideal for inter-island work; four were used for many years in Hawaii. Johnson's Wax also used an S-38 as an executive airplane, and it proved itself very useful in a South American exploration flight in search of Carnauba trees.


The company recently commissioned a replica of this airplane and reenacted the trip to South America. There was a single-engine version of this basic design, the S-39, which was also a very successful airplane for Sikorsky.





Not the most elegant flying boat, being variously described as the “Ugly Duckling”, "Flying tadpole”, and “ A collection of airplane parts”, the S-38 was the first commercial success for the fledging Sikorsky Corporation. Being amphibian, the design was very versatile. Pan American operated the S-38 primarily around the Caribbean.

The original S-38 came from the fertile mind of Igor Sikorsky. More than 100 were built and sold. Its success helped bankroll the Russian engineer for his most challenging design yet: another type of aircraft called....wait for it...a helicopter.



Sikorsky S-39 float


Imagine this wonderfully sleek, 1930s-era speedboat, handcrafted in expensive hardwoods and lavishly decked out in cabin upholstery, curtains and appointments befitting a classy yacht. Now rig up a couple of wings and slap on two 450-hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior engines, and you've got the quintessential Terry and the Pirates-era amphibian: the Sikorsky S-38 Flying Boat. The handcrafted stringers and elegant lines of the "hull" favor the lines of a classic speedboat more than an airplane. It's only with the wings and the addition of two Pratt & Whitney engines that the craft's true mission becomes evident.



Engines: 2 PW 415 Hp
Wasp C
Wingspan: 71ft 10 in
Max Speed: 110 mph
Passengers 8
Length 40 ft 4 in

Sikorsky S-38 three vu



What people say...


Chip, It's just great to see these Sikorsky's up on fg, I know its been alot of work for everybody, Dave, yourself, Mauri, but I think it is so very cool to have the ability to model these marvelous birds. Good job guys!!!! glenv (the designer)

Am in the middle of the S38 build - another remarkable model! I took the liberty of contacting Johnson Wax, to let them know that the model existed. They are more than a little in love with the S38. Not only did they build a replica and fly it to Brazil, they just went to Indonesia and found the original, that sank in 1938. I hope they will finance you to make a "Spirit of Carnauba" version of the plane. Robert Tauxe, Atlanta Skorsky S-38 cardmodel

I'm traveling, so I can't send any photos until I get home, but there are still issues with the S-38. First, did you notice that the photo on the web site seems to be missing a couple of struts. Like the rear struts on the right wing? I looked and looked, but I swear that they aren't there. Second, either the long wing struts or the marks for where they go on the top wing are wrong. If they are made the length they are printed, they are way short of the marks. I think the marks are in the wrong place.

Finally, the S-38 is a real bear to put together. I think I finally got it right, and I took some close ups of the strut arrangements that you might post. The drawings and instructions do not make it clear where all of the struts go. The interleaves engine mount struts and cabanes are absolutely weird. Also, the mounts for the floats on the lower wing bear no relationship to the three views. They look like upside down v's on the assembly drawing, but they look like parallel verticals on the drawing. They certainly don't match the fiduciary marks on the floats.

I improvised. There is no way to put this thing together without some kind of jigs. I built the top wing, booms, engines, and tail all together. The best way I found to mount the wing is to use the strut above the center of the fuselage and then built the triangle that holds the booms to the fuselage. This tripod is a sort of stable configuration for mounting the rest of the struts. But there's still a lot of fiddling and weaving necessary to get the remaining struts in place. As usual, the booms are solid, laminated from many sheets of paper, and all of the struts are at least four layers thick.

The S-38 and S-39 are absolutely beautiful models. I've built all of your airplanes (several more than once), and these guys are off the charts in skill level required. Even worse than the Focke-Angelis helicopter.
I wonder if some of the discrepancies I've found are a result of your handing off to your apprentices.
Dave Finkleman (see below)

Dave's S-38-c
Dave's S-38-b
Dave's S-38-a
Dave's S-38
Cartoon Amphhibian
Cartoon AmphhibianCartoon Sikorsky Amphhibian




Below are a few progress views Glen sent in as he was figuring out the design
S-38 side viewS-38 rear view
View of S-38 bottom
Early Beta-March
Sikorsky amphibianS-38 details
Igor Sikorsky portraitIgor Sikorsky cartoon
Sikorsky s-38 model
Sikorsky S-38 taxiing