The Letov S-16 design work began in 1924 as an all metal replacement for earlier all-wood aircraft, and was intended as a two seat long range bomber and reconnaissance type. Powered by a 450 hp. Lorraine-Dietrich water-cooled engine, the prototype first flew in 1926, and the Czech Air Force ordered three test aircraft. In all, 89 S-16’s were built for the Czechs, and in addition, Latvia bought 21 and Turkey obtained 12. In addition, Yugoslavia bought one to test as a floatplane. The type served with distinction during the late twenties and early thirties, and a few were still operational in 1938 when the Germans occupied the country.
In 1927, one of the first prototypes was prepared for a long distance record flight, and two airmen, S.C. Skala and Mateu Taufer flew their S-16.1 from Prague to Tokyo, but the aircraft was a write-off due to engine failure on the flight back, and the plane finished its journey courtesy of the Trans Siberian railroad. The aircraft’s rudder survived to fly on another S-16, and it currently is on display in a Czech museum.