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Sikorsky S-39 - $$8.50

In 2003, aviator Dick Jackson completed an authentic restoration of the S-39, dubbed the "Spirit of Igor" in honor of the Johnsons and Igor Sikorsky. The restoration process required nearly 40 years and 40,000 man-hours to complete.

Sikorsky S-39 Amphibious Flying Boat downloadable cardmodel

Sikorsky S-39 Amphibious Flying Boat

S-39 taxi Dick Doll



Sikorsky's S-39 was a smaller, single-engine version of the 10 seat S-38 flying boat.

Seating just 4 passengers as well as the pilot, the S-39 was intended as a personal transport and sport-plane. Again there was an abundance of struts and braces but with reduced spans and reduced loads the airframe was somewhat cleaner than its S-38 sibling.

S-39 downloadable cardmodel


What people say...


I hear there is an S-39 in the pipeline. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! - Ringmaster

You know I have always wondered about that term "amphibious airplane" Frogs are amphibious, they go on land and in the water but they can't fly, but they swim...Ducks can go on land and in the water, and they fly but they're not amphibians...Wouldn't a real amphibious airplane start out on land , drive into the water and sink?
Matthew Sparks -McClatchy Newspapers

Beautiful looking model. I think you've got yourself a real winner with this one.
R Carleen

Good point. These sea planes are not Amphibians, they are waterfowl. If anyone decides to do a Grumman Goose I will gladly paint up variants. The Catalina Island sea planes are a part of our Southern California history.
Dan Reno

The Sikorsky S-39. I am really looking forward to this one. As a young teen I remember seeing a national geographic type file in middle school about some people flying across Africa in an S-38, and S-39. The animal pictures got me interested in public television(no animal planet or cable t.v. then). These people landed out on the African veldt with both planes. In my minds eye, that was some great footage. I do hope we see that color scheme early on. Scissors rocks paper...
Dennis Tracy

What a beauty. Really one of the best paint jobs on any FG ever.I see what you are saying Chip. If this model goes together as well as it looks this is definitely a bar raiser. It really screams "build me" though. This is a great looking model. Talk to you soon,
Dan RM

Great job on the S-39. Love the way the windows are done showing the curtains and the pilots through the reflection of the glass.
The Zebra version is a S-38 named Osa's Ark and usually makes it to EAA Airventure every year. I've seen it up close a few times and watched it take off once. Very slow and graceful. Beautiful plane. If you get the pleasure of seeing either of these planes, take a close look at the interior. Lots of nice fabric and fine finished woodwork reminiscent of the old airliners. Gotta find the time to build this
one. TW
Now that's just b----in'. Excellent job all around. I agree with RM. This seems to raise the bar. I seem to remember an article in an old Fine Scale Modeller with this done up in zebra stripes. I think I can find it if anyone's interested. T.
It is quite a model! I think this one is going to get laser printed at the local office supply so that it has a nice sheen. BB
That is a very pretty model ....nick
I was thrilled to the Osa & Martin Johnson's Spirit of Africa in the S-39 folder. They were from the small town of Chanute Kansas, about 100 miles east of Wichita. They are legendary figures around here. It's always neat to make a local connection like this.

Hello, Thanks for the Sikorsky! That plane flew here in Brazil for many years and I have an old book where a pioneer pilot who flew this amphibian describes commercial routes over the Amazon river and coastal cities. The company was a Pan Am branch and the pilot had to carry passengers luggage, act as a navigator and even work as a mechanic exchanging engines in the middle of nowhere!

Great new addition, the S-39, and I can hardly wait to see the S-38 come out. I love the Spirit of Africa one, just what I’d been waiting for! I’m planning to do some watercolors about the S-38 and S-39 in Africa and am in urgent need of ‘models’. Thanks for the nice models! ..

Love it, thanks,

Love it. Would it be possible in the future to put some witness marks showing where on the wings and fuse the many struts go? The drawings are helpful but actual marks would be heaven sent. Thanks, John McP
Sikorsky made some really great looking flying boats. Maybe some day some talented designer can take on the S-43? I made some paintings of several flying boats. They should re-invent flying boats, much more romantic than the jetliners! ;<) All the best,

Hi Chip!
Thanks for the e-mail concerning the Sikorsky's - the S-39 looks grand!

The EAA AirVenture Museum's Sikorsky display was built using a mock-up of a Sikorsky S-38, not an S-39. Think of it as a very large half-shell (and a little bit more) model. After Sam commissioned (not the company, as is often erroneously stated) Buzz Kaplan's Born Again Restorations to create a flying S-38 replica, Sam and his two sons, Curt and Fisk, flew the Sikorsky replica to Brazil and back to commemorate H.F. Johnson's exploration flight in 1935.

S-39-DIck DollOne of the earliest displays installed in the museum, the S-38 was funded by Sam Johnson and SC Johnson Wax, and was intended to honor the memory of his pioneering father, H.F. Johnson. No original Sikorsky parts parts are used in the mock-up, so it would be incorrect to state that "this Sikorsky S-39 converted into a movie room".

After his father's passing in 2004, Fisk was named president of the company, becoming the 5th generation to head the consumer products company. Other portions of the corporation are run by Curt and Sam's daughter, Helen. Fisk is the man you now see in SC Johnson commercials.

Oh, about Amphibian vs. Amphibian. I used to work for Sikorsky, and early on in my career there I worked with an elderly photographer who was getting ready to retire. He told me, and later confirmed in other writings, what Igor intended by the change in spelling. He was keenly aware of the definition of an amphibian, and to distinguish the land based swimming reptiles from his aeronautical creations, he coined the term Amphibian, which he intended to denote aircraft that could land on sea or land. It would be correct to use the term when referring to and of Sikorsky's seaplanes that are capable of water or ground operations. In fact, whenever I write about those aircraft, I use the term, just as Igor intended.

One more fun story, I think you'll get a kick out of it. It highlights Sam's really fun sense of humor. I was fortunate to visit with him a number of times during the 1990s, as Sam was a President's Council member here at EAA. Tom Poberezny tells the story of his first visit to Sam in the early 1980s, when EAA was generating support to build the museum we have here in Oshkosh. When Tom walked into the meeting room at SC Johnson, Sam stood at the end of the table, looked at Tom, and said, in a fairly serious voice,

"Nobody in this room likes airplanes".... he paused for effect.... except me."
Then he broke into a wry smile and invited Tom to continue. Too funny.
Best Regards,
H.G. Frautschy
Editor, Vintage Airplane magazine
Executive Director, EAA's Vintage Aircraft Association
Check out our website at

Hi Chip,
S-39 floats(A while back you asked my opinion on the Sikorsky S-39 float design.)
Although I have just started the build, it is a terrific model subject and looks to be an excellent design by Mauri Liso.

My preference is to have parts butt up to each other with a glue strip rather than over lapping; the superior results using this method is obvious in the attached photo.

Parts were printed on Wausau 90 Lb Exact Index and sprayed with a protective coat of Krylon UV clear.
The front float was cut away from the parts page leaving the glue tabs remaining on the parts sheet. Instead, 24 LB Letter paper strips were glued and notched. The second float behind the front float was assembled with the normal overlap method and the part edge running lengthwise along its top center is quite noticeable.
It is probably my construction but I had to do a bit of shaping to get the nose to come together properly.

Thank you,, for providing good close up reference photos. These will come in handy especially when figuring how the landing gear struts should mount.
Bob Penikas

... By the way, the S39 is out of this world! I have an affinity for planes of the 30's. Maybe not aerodynamically the best, but what style! Tom Winslett

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 closeups 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.I'll send some photos when I get home later this week Dave Finkleman 24/07/07

Love the models, and the quality of design and craftsmanship that go into these models is great! Anyway, I wanted to point something out that I noticed on one of your models write ups.
On the page for the Sikorsky S-39, at the bottom, is a set of photos with the SE Johnson airplane. I'm no expert by any means, but I happened to be researching both the S-38 and the S-39, and if what I read at is correct, the picture of the SE Johnson plane is really a S-38, not an S-39. I think that because it's a cutaway for a diorama display, the single engine would make it appear as if it were an S-39. Of course, I could be off base, and the and SE Johnson family could have had both an S-38 and an S-39. But the location of the engine is not centered over the fuselage as it would be over the S-39, which is what caught my eye. Anyway, thanks! Ed McCarthy

Robs S-39
Robs S-39
What a model! My favorite era! My favorite category of aircraft - flying boats!
The fit is fantastic, and the plane looks great (photo attached). The fuselage and floats came together perfectly, and are gems in themselves. Senor Mauri Liso is a genius, and this is his first design! I built it in time to serve as the "stunt plane" for hands on demonstrations of what paper models look like up close and personal for a neighborhood tour of homes two weekends ago. It survived handling by hundreds of visitors. Cannot wait for the S 38 now, and hope the Large version is the same scale as the Large S-39. I cannot get enough of these big beautiful old floaters.

One tip - this model is not improved by (a spraying of) Future floor wax. There is enough dynamic tension from the struts that the fuselage caves in and the wing wrinkles when the wax makes it a little damp. Robert Tauxe, Atlanta


Sikorsky S39 S-39 Fiddlersgreen over water Sikorsky S39 S-39 Fiddlersgreen underbelly
Sikorsky S-39 S39 Fiddlersgreen


Sikorsky S-39

Sikorsky's S-39 was built to meet the demands of the individual pilot/owner. The aircraft had a wing span of 52 feet, a wing area of 350 square feet and a gross weight of 4,000 pounds. The aircraft was capable of carrying one pilot plus four passengers. It sold completely equipped for $20,000. More than twenty-three S-39's were produced in spite of the depression. The little amphibian established an enviable service record.


Sikorsky S-39 engine
Close up of the mighty (and dependable) PW Wasp J on the Sikorsky S-39


A Spiffy flying machine designed to carry adventurous people to the far corners of the Earth at a time when the Earth was much larger than it is today. When distant places were wrapped in mystery and romance. The S-39 was designed specifically for fun and a leisurely stroll through the sky.

S-39 sketchThe Spirit of Igor was named for the Spirit of Africa, an S-39 owned by African naturalists Martin and Osa Johnson, and for Igor Sikorsky himself. The giraffe spotting on the fuselage is authentic to a specific species. It was projected onto the hull in order for the painting to be completed.



The S-39 sold completely equipped for $20,000. The design of the S-39 started in mid 1929 as a twin engine aircraft powered by British Cirrus "Hermes Mark I" 100 horsepower engines. First flight was December 24, 1929. On December 30 the aircraft crashed due to lack of power from one engine. The twin engine concept was abandoned in favor of the small Pratt & Whitney 300 horsepower Wasp Jr. engine.


First flight was early February 1930 and test pilot Boris Sergievsky commented; "During the first test flight I looped the aircraft." More than twenty-three S-39's were produced in spite of the depression. The S-39 established three Aviation World Records, was the first aircraft to use the Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. Engine,the first aircraft mounted on a private yacht and the first aircraft designed and produced by Sikorsky after it moved from Long Island to Connecticut.


Sikorsky S-39 In Flight
Sikorsky S-39 Flying Boat, owner Dick Jackson. One of three known to exist: second at New England Air Museum, and third at the bottom of Two Lake, Alaska.


Sikorsky S-39 giraffe side view Sikorsky S-39 Varney Side

BOTH versions are included in folder

Sikorsky S-39 floatSikorsky S-39 tail
SIKORSKY S-39, NC-50V (s/n 912), represents one of the 21 aircraft of this type built by Igor Sikorsky in 1930-1931. 50V is the only airworthy example of the type and is the oldest flying Sikorsky in the world today. It was painstakingly restored by Dick Jackson of Rochester, NH. The project began in the 1960s, with the hull of NC-50V being discovered in the Alaskan bush. 40,000 hours and nearly four decades later, the S-39 flew again.
Sikorsky S-39 Spirit of IgorSikorsky S-39 giraffe
"Out of Africa' version of the Sikorsky S-39

Sikorsky S-39 Head onSikorsky S-39 tailboom

S-39 tailboom (above)

SI korsky S-39 Taking off
Igor Sikorsky proudSikorsky S-39-factory
The Sikorsky factory on Long Island making S-39 hulls ..and Igor
 Sikorsky S39
This Varney Sikorsky S-39 is included in the folder (Large version only)
Sikorsky S39


Beta-S-38- Mauris'
"I am having fun like mad! I wish it was possible to make a living out of this,
I would be the happiest man ever :D "

Aaron working on the S-39Sikorsky Amphibian advert
Aaron working on the beta model 11/22/07. Look how 'Amphibian' is spelled. This is correct if you're talking about Star Wars Water Craft. That Igor was sure a visionary!


Sikorsky S-38 side view
The Sikorsky S-39 Amphibian getting ready to go somewhere fun and exciting..
Sikorski logo (sic)


The Sikorsky S-38 Spirit Of Carnauba:

Johnson sign on S-38

The EAA Museum, Oshkosh, has this Sikorsky S-38 converted into a movie room featuring the Johnson's' trip to Africa. Take a 1928 biplane amphibian and a 7500-mile aerial adventure to the primitive jungles of Brazil, and what have you got?

The Johnson Company and EAA have set up this wonderful little movie theatre off to the side at the EAA Oshkosh EAA Museum.


Sikorsky S-39 crashed
One would expect the occasional mishap when one lands and leaves from some of the most airplane unfriendly places on earth. (S-39)

VISIT the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum

(Ranked the #1 museum in Kansas!) Telling the remarkable story of Martin and Osa Johnson.