Charles “Pete” Conrad
Richard Gordon
Alan Bean




Victor Craft

Apollo 12

The patch was designed by Pete, Dick and I with the help of about 10 other people around the contractor area at the Cape. The real breakthrough came in our effort to try to duplicate our landing site on the moon when a couple of engineers came to me and said they thought they could duplicate it exactly. They came back a few days later and it did look just perfect — all the craters the proper size, shape and the lighting just perfect. It turned out the technique they had used was to get a relief globe of the moon that was in the library and light it properly and then take photographs with a Polaroid at different distances until they got one that had just the right curvature that we wanted on the patch. We selected the blue and gold because they are Navy colors and all of us were in the Navy. The ship was patterned in a way after a Navy ship. I went to the library and picked up some clipper ship pictures, gave them to an artist who was working at Patrick [Air Force Base] at the time. He was the one who drew it. After looking it over, we realized there were too many sets of sails outboard of the hull, so we asked him to redesign it. The ship had been one similar to the one Jason and the Argonauts had used to search for the Golden Fleece and we didn’t feel that was American enough, where we felt that the clipper ship was definitely an American symbol.

—Alan Bean, from All We Did Was Fly to the Moon

The artist the crew chose was Victor Craft, who worked for RCA Services Company. His employer took several photographs of Craft for a press release, one of them showing him at his drafting table with some books on clipper ships — presumably the ones Bean referred to. One of the books is open to a picture of a clipper ship that looks almost exactly like the one on the patch — except that it had sets of outboard sails, just as Bean describes. Larry McGlynn was able to identify this as a painting by Jack Spurling of the clipper ship Lightning, the fastest of the “extreme” clipper ships. Since Apollo 12 was struck by lightning a few seconds after it was launched, the irony of the name of the ship on the patch was delicious!

There were four stars in the patch of Apollo 12, one for each of the crewmen and one for C.C. Williams who would have been the lunar module pilot on this flight had he lived. Al Bean had replaced C.C. as Lunar Module Pilot, and it had been his idea to put the extra star there.

First on the Moon

According to Still, Lion Brothers began incorporating a “hallmark” into its patches beginning with Apollo 12. However, as seen below there were at least two versions of the Lion Brothers Apollo 12 patch. The first had no hallmark.

NASA photo S69-52336

Beta cloth version of the Apollo 12 patch. Among Beta cloth patches, this is the smallest.
76mm w × 77mm h

AB Emblem embroidered Apollo 12 patch.
102mm w × 100mm w

This attractive and elegant Lion Brothers Apollo 12 patch does not have gold metallic thread in the border; and the stitching in the gold border area is horizontal rather than concentric. It predates the hallmarked version of the patch.
102mm dia

This patch, remarkably similar to the AB Emblem patch above [ap12-em1], has a distinctly different arrangement of stars — which matches exactly the patch worn by the astronauts after recovery (cf. image at right). Thanks to Bill Hunt for this image.
101mm dia

This is a detail from NASA photo 69-H-1884, which is a photo of the Apollo 12 crew in the MQL after recovery.

The hallmarked version of the Lion Brothers embroidered Apollo 12 patch used gold metallic threads and concentric stitching in the gold border. This is the first of the hallmarked patches.
99mm w × 97mm h

The Lion Brothers hallmark — the number "12" stitched into the contrail extending from the ship’s stern. It is extremely difficult to see, much more so than subsequent hallmarks.

This draft of the artwork shows how Craft depicted the moon prior to the breakthrough idea of photographing an actual moon globe to get the right look and lighting. Other notable elements that changed in the final design: a white ring was added inside the blue border, and four stars symbolizing the crew and C. C. Williams.

The artist behind the Apollo 12 patch, Victor Craft (seated). Presumably the others are the engineers mentioned by Alan Bean in his account of the creation of the patch. Thanks to John Bisney for this image.