| Apollo 15
"The mission patch for Apollo 15 was basically designed by the
Italian dress designer, Emilio Pucci.
We had as a crew evaluated some 540 different designs for our crew
patch. They appeared either too mechanical or to have nothing to
do with the flight, so finally, through a mutual friend, we asked
Pucci if he would help us with the design. Now, Pucci, as I best
recall, was an aeronautical engineer [in fact, he was a bomber pilot in the
Italian Air Force -ed] and had a good feeling for
flight. With his artistic nature, we felt that he would be very
helpful in the patch design. He did send us a design which was basically
the same as the patch we eventually used, however the colors were
in the normal Pucci blues, purples, and greens. We took his design,
changed it from a square to a circular patch, made it red, white
and blue, and put a lunar background behind the three stylized birds
that were the major Pucci contribution. The symbology is of three
stylized birds flying over the lunar surface, each indicating one
of us who were on the flight. The lunar surface behind the patch
shows the landing site (next to Hadley Rille at the foot of the
Appenine Mountains) and directly behind the stylized birds is a
crater formation that spells "15" in Roman numerals. You can also
see from the stylized birds that they fly in formation with one
on top and two closer to the lunar surface, indicating those who
|A fanciful recreation of the central design element in "the normal Pucci
blues, purples and greens."
--Al Worden, from All We Did Was Fly to the
In a letter from Pucci to Dave Scott, we get some insight into the state of the design when Pucci finished his involvement:
"I am very happy to hear that the design I made for the emblem, which visually represents, and now I may say it, you, Worden and Irwin in the shape of three fast moving elements in space in the form of a capsule closely flying in formation to indicate the common goal and purpose of your flight, has met with your liking.
"According to your indications I am sending three sketches in the size you indicated, using different backgrounds and lettering.
"Sketch "A" is done on a solid black background. Sketch "B" is done with a grey and white background, representing the proposed lunar landing site. Sketch "C" is done in black and grey, that is, using no colors, to be reproduced in any color you like on stationary, etc.
"You will note that the lettering of your names and of Apollo have been designed in a rush and are far from perfect. Please have them perfected by lettering specialists.
"If it can be executed properly I think that sketch "B" is the best.
"The blue and red which I have used are not exactly the ones of the American flag since I do not have the precise shades of color, but the emblem would be finally made in the true colors of the flag.
As you may have noticed I have signed my name "Emilio" on all the sketches, in black on sketch "B" (the one I prefer), and in white on "A" and "C", as I do on all the designs I make."
A written note from Dave Scott to Stanley Jacobsen (from Still,
p.181) illustrates some of the changes made toward the end of the
"We have a few modifications we would like to make to the
"1. Attached is a somewhat different scale photo for the surface
at Hadley. In particular we have tried to include the unique characteristics
of the Rille...
"2. We feel that the contrast is adequate to eliminate the
white borders around the [vector] shapes and use only red, white,
and blue over the landing site.
"3. We also think the white border inside the inner red circle
"4. The phases of the moon for XV is well
done; although I guess that representation for [Apollo] 15 is still
questionable. One suggestion was to place that concept somewhere
on the surface..."
Jerry Elmore, a contract employee in the MSC Graphics Arts Branch, executed the final artwork for the patch. Considering the rough state of the design when Pucci handed it off, it's clear that Elmore contributed as much to the design as Pucci. The "bird" or "capsule" shapes are much refined from Pucci's sketch; the expertly rendered lettering is a wonderful choice to occupy the space between two concentric rings; and the lunar surface is entirely the superb creation of Elmore. According to John Bisney, Elmore claims he hid his own initials among the details of the lunar surface. While Elmore never admitted it, my theory is that there are meanderings in the rille that trace out the letters "J" and "E". This is the actual path of the rille, so Elmore could never have been faulted for including his initials, a practice that was officially frowned upon.
With respect to embroidered patches, Apollo 15 marks a watershed.
Until Apollo 15, Lion Brothers seemed consistently to produce embroidered
patches that were more faithful to the patch artwork than those
of AB Emblem. This is particularly noticable in the Apollo 7, 10,
13 and 14 patches. Beginning with Apollo 15 roles were reversed,
with AB Emblem making patches which were consistently more faithful
than Lion Brothers. The one point on which the Lion Brothers patches
seemed consistently at variance with the design was the size of
the lettering. This is most noticable in the Apollo 15 and 17 patches.
NASA photo ID: S71-30463
Taken: 4 May 1971
Beta cloth version of the Apollo 15 patch.
AB Emblem embroidered Apollo 15 patch. This patch has the
"XV" hallmark designed into the patch. Until now, the Lion
Brothers patches tended to follow the artwork more faithfully
than the AB Emblem patches. This tendency reverses beginning
with Apollo 15.
101mm w × 102mm h
This Apollo 15 patch has the "XV" hallmark sewn
in silver. According to the description of lot 547 of the
May 2003 Aurora Galleries auction, which included a similar
"silver hallmark" patch, it was "one of four
proof samples supplied by the AB Emblem Company prior to
production of the final patch. This particular patch is
unique because it includes silver embroidery of the XV [hallmark]".
However, more of the "silver hallmark" patches
were obviously made at some point in time, since three lots
(408, 409 and 410) in the October 2002 AG auction, lot 538
in the May 2003 AG auction, lot 680 in the April 2004 AG
auction, and lot 467 in the October 2004 AG auction all
included such a patch. Regardless, they are clearly very
This version of the Apollo 15 patch has the "XV"
hallmark sewn in gold. Lot 535 of the May 2003 Aurora Galleries
auction included such a patch, and noted that this was "done
only for patches for the astronauts' personal possession."
According to Bill Hunt, there were fewer of these made than
of the silver version. My thanks to Bill Hunt for both this
image and the one of the silver hallmarked patch.
The Lion Brothers embroidered Apollo 15 patch. The crater
outlines making up the "hallmark" are in white
here, instead of black, making it almost invisible.The standard
Lion Brothers hallmark (see photo to right) is used instead.
The lettering is oversized on this patch -- the crew names
occupy nearly half the circumference.
101mm w × 102mm h
The Lion Brothers hallmark -- the number
"15" upside down near the "D" in Worden's name.
This photo shows the patch on Dave Scott's
flight suit. Like most patches (but unlike Apollo
8), the beta cloth was trimmed to a square around the
circular patch before being sewn onto the suit. The suit
is currently on display at the National Air & Space
Museum, Washington, DC. This isn't a flown patch, though:
as standard procedure, upon return the flown beta-cloth
patch was removed from the suit and given to the astronaut
who wore it; it was then replaced with a fresh, unflown
beta-cloth patch. Photo courtesy of David
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