History Takes Flight

With a collection of more than 200 historic aircraft, the EAA Aviation Museum is a year-round destination, combining aviation's past with the promise of its exciting future.

1918 Thomas-Morse Scout S4C - N38899

Location: Antiques & Classics


View Virtual Tour of Cockpit


The Thomas-Morse Scout, built in Bath, New York, was an advanced trainer, operated by the both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. Dubbed the “Tommy” by its pilots, the aircraft became the favorite single-seat training airplane produced in the U.S. during World War I. Its long career began in the summer of 1917.

Englishman Douglas Thomas (no relation to company founders, brothers William and Oliver Thomas) was recruited by Glenn Curtiss to leave the famed Sopwith Aviation Company in 1914. While working for Curtiss, he played an integral role in the design of the Curtiss Jenny, before leaving to work for Thomas-Morse, where he designed the S-4 which first flew in June 1917. The follow-on S-4B, with a 110-hp Gnome engine, resulted in an order of 97 for the Army and 10 for the Navy. Six more were completed for the Navy as S-5 float planes. The S-4B was used extensively by pursuit flying schools in the U.S. during 1918. The S-4C arrived in 1918 mainly using the 80-hp Le Rhône C-9. The Army bought 461 S-4Cs while four S-4Cs with floats went to the Navy.

Many Tommys were sold as surplus after the war. This included the example on display in the museum, Army serial number 38899, which had slightly over 20 hours of flight time when it was given civil registration 3991, later NC3991. Most Scouts were used by civilian flying schools and sportsmen and a few appeared in World War I aviation movies in the 1930s. The Tommy, one of approximately 10 of the 600 or so built that are known to survive, was donated to the EAA Aviation Museum from its owner, Allen Johnson of The Woodlands, Texas in March 2018.

Length: 19 feet, 10 inches
Wingspan: 26 feet, 6 inches
Height: 8 feet, 1 inch
Empty Weight: 935 pounds
Gross Weight: 1,330 pounds
Crew: One
Powerplant: Le Rhône 9C Rotary
Horsepower: 80
Maximum Speed: 97 mph
Range: 250 miles
Service Ceiling: 16,000 feet
Armament: .30 caliber Marlin machine gun

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