Sikorsky S-38


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Sikorsky S-38

The S-38 was a nine-seat commercial amphibian powered by two 313kW Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engines. A sesquiplane wing arrangement was employed and the tail unit was carried on two outriggers running aft from the main wing and braced to the heel of the hull by two struts. It was a successful design and many were built for airline use (including Pan American Airways, entering service in October 1938), private use and for the US Navy/USAAC. The type also set several world records for speed and altitude with specific loads.

Sikorsky S-38A three-view drawing (760 x 872)

 ENGINE2 x Pratt & Whitney "Wasp", 310kW
  Take-off weight4753 kg10479 lb
  Empty weight2970 kg6548 lb
  Wingspan21.8/11.0 m72 ft 6 in / 36 ft 1 in
  Length12.3 m40 ft 4 in
  Height4.4 m14 ft 5 in
  Wing area66.9 m2720.10 sq ft
  Max. speed200 km/h124 mph
  Cruise speed175 km/h109 mph
  Ceiling5480 m18000 ft
  Range w/max.fuel965 km600 miles

Sikorsky S-38B

Aaron Scott, e-mail, 10.08.2013 00:54

I would like to make a radio model of this aircraft. Is there any way I could get a high res 3 view image?


David Bass, e-mail, 02.07.2012 01:20

Have seen the Sikorsky S-38 fly today for the first time at Duxford in Cambs, it was lovely to watch along with the Catalina. Could you please tell me where it is stationed please?


Ronald Jeurissen, e-mail, 17.10.2010 23:59

Does anyone know a picture of a S-38 in WW-II service?


Robert Semple, e-mail, 28.07.2010 19:36

Is any company building replica S38's ? If so pls send the name. Thank you, RS.


R. David Schooling-author, e-mail, 10.06.2010 23:14

I forgot to mention earlier, behind the entry ladder down from the hatch, was located a toilet /restroom in the S-38.

There were no refreshments provided other than water, except on private customized S38's

Howard Hughes, Robt. McCormick (Chi. Tribune news barron)S.C Johnson (Wax) lavishly customized these flying boats, there are a few pictures of those customizations available.

Martin Johnson, not related to the Johnson Wax family(the African Air Safari) custromized their S38 by installing two bunk beds, and limited cook stove equipment.


R. David Schooling-Author, e-mail, 10.06.2010 23:03

On July 23, 1930 Officials from a new Airline to be headquartered Louisville, splashed down in the Ohio River. I have news clips of that event with photo of the S38 heading toward their new seaplane base at 3rd and Wharf, with the 2nd St. & Big-4 bridges in the background.

Many aviation experts are totally unaware that Louisville Ky had seaplane service spanning 4 decades from 1919 to 1953.

The gigantic Navy NC-4 flying boat(First aircraft across the Atlantic)landed in the seaplane basin in Louisville in November 1919.


Mike Johnson, e-mail, 17.04.2010 23:44

I have a beautiful photo showing about 30 military biplanes lined up in a field on, I believe, Maui. The first in the line is a S-38 with the number "77" on the nose. Is there any way to determine what civilian registration # it converted to... assuming it survived the war?
MRJ /3B2


Robert L. Willett, e-mail, 25.02.2010 02:45

China National Aviation Corporation, 45% owned by Pan Am, brought three S-38s into service in 1933. Principally they flew a new coastal run from Shanghai to Canton. They had a tragic record and the last one crashed on April 10, 1934. They were replaced by Douglas Dolphins.


John Crouse, e-mail, 27.01.2010 23:22

There are beautiful pictures of this aircraft in Africa in the book "I Married Adventure" by Osa Johnson. She and her husband Martin bought two Sikorsky amphibians.


Beatrice Hale, e-mail, 06.01.2010 21:43

can anyone please tell me whether passengers took their own food, whether there were any cooking /heating water facilities on board this plane?


Bryan Johnson, e-mail, 17.07.2009 19:26

According to Frank J. Delear (Igor Sikorsky: his three careers in aviation, 1969, p. 134), 114 were produced. But website Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation ( /topics /Sikorsky_Aircraft#encyclopedia), states that 101 were built. Delear states that buyers included the PanAm, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, several individuals (including the explorer Martin Johnson), several other airlines (unspecified), the Chilean government, a charter service, an oil company and a drug store chain. The "other airlines" apparently serviced the Caribbian, South America, Hawaii, Canada and several parts of the U.S.


Jerry Noosinow (PAA Ret), e-mail, 13.09.2008 07:20

Is there any info on how many S-38's were built and who besides PAA and the U.S. Navy operated them?


Roger Derby, e-mail, 22.05.2008 00:14

During the take-off run on water, the passenger in the right front seat would get wet with spray from the wheel well.

Entry to the passenger compartment was through a hatch in the top of the hull, reached by a ladder.

The pilot and mechanic compartment was open so they could hear the wind in the rigging.


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