The Gallery currently features 25,000+ patches primarily representing USAF organizations, weapon systems, and installations dating back to its origins in 1914. While the Gallery is one of the most comprehensive compilations of U.S. Air Force patches available, it is by no means complete. The patches pictured are only a small percentage of the U.S. Air Force patches that exist.
The Gallery features embroidered, leather, PVC and silk-screened patches. The Gallery does not include stickers/zaps, artwork, embroidered rank, name tags, or embroidered occupational, specialty or aeronautical badges. Gallery images come from the Webmaster’s or visitor’s personal collections.
GALLERY PATCHES ARE NOT FOR SALE, TRADE OR DONATION
USAFpatches.com receive numerous requests from the general public, collectors, veterans their family members asking to purchase, trade or donation of patches pictured in the gallery. Many of the patches pictured are extremely difficult to obtain and if the numerous requests were honored, there would be no collection.
USAFpatches.com has a selection of patches available for sale or trade in the Shop section of this website. The proceeds from items purchased in the Shop assist in keeping this website running. If the Shop does not have what you are looking for, please try one of the vendors under the Where to Buy Patches page.
ERRORS OR MISSING INFORMATION
Despite the best efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors or gaps in the information presented in the gallery. Currently, most of the gallery is not properly sourced; however, efforts are made provide sources whenever possible for each and every patch.
If you find an error please contact the Webmaster provide the error, the correction and thr source of the correction information. Please be patient if the correction does not appear quickly. Corrections will be posted after review and verification by the Webmaster which may take some time.
Since there are substantial numbers of U.S. Air Force personnel on assignment or deployed with joint or coalition organizations, patches from these units are also pictured in the gallery under the miscellaneous section. This includes, but is not limited to, organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), combatant commands and national intelligence organizations.
FAKES, REPRODUCTIONS AND ERROR PATCHES
Fake, reproductions and error patches are becoming increasingly problematic for collectors. In order to help collectors identify these patches, fakes are displayed in the Gallery. Fakes, reproductions and error patches are marked as such and whenever possible, specific information is provided on the origins of these type of patches. Because of the sheer number of patches out there, it is extremely likely that other fake, reproduction or error patches are pictured in the Gallery but not correctly labeled. If you spot any patches in the Gallery that are fakes, reproductions or error patches, please notify the Webmaster. Please provide any corroborating information whenever possible.
The gallery is broken up into three primary sections: 1) numbered organizations, 2) named (alphabetical) organizations and 3) miscellaneous patches (those that do not fall in the previous two sections). The miscellaneous section includes, but is not limited to, class patches, weapon system patches, generic competition patches and generic exercise patches. The three sections allow site visitors to quickly find a patch with minimal effort.
In addition to the three primary sections, there is also a special gallery section that has patches grouped by specific types of patches. This facilitates easy reference for collectors who may specialize in a particular subset of U.S. Air Force patches. The Webmaster is always willing to add additional special galleries — please contact him with your ideas.
EXPLANATION OF FIELDS USED FOR PATCHES
In order to facilitate the search function of the Gallery, specific fields are used to present information. Additionally, for each field a specific, standardized formats are used to ensure consistency and facilitate an easy search. Additional information is available for each patch by clicking on the patch thumbnail image. The specific fields and the formats used are provided in the follow paragraphs. Because of limitations with the Gallery software, some liberties must be taken in order to display the information in a usable format. These specific cases are also described below.
For patches association with a specific organization, the full organizational designation as indicated in an organization’s official lineage and honors statement is used. Due to limitations with the gallery software, there are some exceptions to the above:
- Numbered air forces, which are officially spelled out, are listed using an Arabic numeral. This is to ensure they are correctly sorted when listed in the gallery.
- Detachments and operating locations are listed with their parent organization first instead of the official format which specifies the detachment/operating location designation followed by the parent organization (e.g. — “17th Test Squadron Detachment 1” versus the official designation “Detachment 1, 17th Test Squadron”). This allows the detachment/operating locations to be listed with their parent organization rather than having them all grouped under Detachments.
- Organizational designations that begin with “Headquarters” are listed with “Headquarters” at the end of the designation in the gallery (e.g. — “Connecticut Air National Guard, Headquarters” versus “Headquarters, Connecticut Air National Guard”). This prevents a large number of patches appearing under the “H” section and lists the patch under a more logical section.
Since there are numerous ways to abbreviate unit designations, abbreviations and acronyms are not used unless they appear in the official lineage and honors statement (e.g. — “USAF Weapons School”, “USAF Warfare Center”).
Qualifiers are used at the end of a unit designation for other than the officially approved and/or officially recognized organizational patch. This is done to ensure the organization’s officially approved/recognized patch is listed first, followed by the morale patches. The following format is used:
[Official Unit Designation] [Qualifier]
Some of the qualifiers used include:
- Morale: Used for morale patches that are not specific.
- Aircraft/Weapons System Type Designation: Used for morale patches that depict a specific type of aircraft/weapons system (e.g. — “1st Tactical Fighter Wing F-15”).
- Operation/Competition/Exercise Name: Used for morale patches made for a specific operation, competition or exercise. For operations, competitions and exercises that have a year associated with them, the year is listed in full (i.e. — four digits vice two) (e.g. — “116th Tactical Fighter Wing William Tell 1982”, “510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Operation NORTHERN WATCH”, “14th Fighter Squadron Exercise RED FLAG 2011-1.”
- Milestones/Events — Used for morale patches to celebrate the anniversary date of specific milestones (e.g. — “44th Fighter Squadron 69th Anniversary”).
Class patches are listed according to their class number followed by the name of the training course. For classes with the year as part of the class number, the year is listed in full (i.e. – four digits vice two) (e.g. – “Class 1992-01 Undergraduate Pilot Training”). This allows the software to display the patches in chronological order.
For generic weapons system patches, such as aircraft, satellites and missile patches, the official Department of Defense designation to include the official nickname is used in this field.
The description field provides specific information about the patch, to include (but not limited to):
- Official patch (emblem) description
- Where and when obtained
- Name of patch designer
- Time period and/or aircraft flown for the specific patch variation
- Translation of non-English mottoes
- Spelled out acronyms and abbreviations
For non-English mottoes, since there are many ways to translate particular words or phrases, official Air Force recognized translations are indicated by “Official Translation:”. Official translations are those listed in an organization’s official lineage and honors statement or on The Institute of Heraldry website. If an official translation is unknown or does not exists, it is listed as just “Translation:”.
For official patch (emblem) descriptions, the official description, as listed in an organization’s official lineage and honors statement or by The Institute of Heraldry, is indicated as “Official Description:”. If an official description is unknown or does not exist, it is listed as just “Description”. For either case, a reference to the source documentation is listed.
This field allows individuals to search for specific words or phrases, greatly aiding in the identification and search for various patches.
This is a word for word, character for character transcription of everything appearing on the patch from top to bottom including capitalization and punctuation. Spelled-out abbreviations or acronyms and translations of non-English words or phrases used on a patch are provided in the “Description” field.
In the case an inscription is written in other than English characters, the language is indicated in brackets (e.g. — “[Chinese]”). When known, a translation is provided in the description section.
Keywords are reserved for use by the Webmaster to group patches for display in Special Galleries.
This section is based on the facility where the specific patch was actually used/worn. Since units move over time, a particular variation may have been used in multiple locations and as such a patch may have more than one base listed. If this information is unknown or if the patch is not associated with a specific installation, the field is left blank.
For this section, the facility’s full official Department of Defense designation is used. This information is derived from a unit’s official lineage and honors statement or other official documentation.
In the case of facilities located at a civilian airport, the name of the nearest city is listed if the location is not part of the installation designation, e.g. — “Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin”.
In cases where the name of a facility has changed while the patch variation was in use, the old designation and new designations are listed, e.g. — “Blytheville (later Eaker) AFB, Arkansas”.
Some installations are more widely known by unofficial designations. This is particularly the case for Air National Guard installations that have locally or state approved designations that are not federally recognized. For these, the other designation may appear in parentheses, e.g. — “Fort Smith RAP (Ebbing ANGB), Arkansas or Eglin AFAF #9 (Hurlburt Field), Florida”.
Standard abbreviations (AB, AS, AFB, AFS, ANGB, ANGS, MAP, IAP, RAF, NAS) are used as appropriate to indicate the type of facility.
Since there are variations in the how states or countries are abbreviated, they are spelled out to avoid confusion.
LINEAGE AND HONORS
In order to provide more information about the unit association with a particular patch, a link or reference to the official organizational lineage and honors statement is provided when available. The lineage and honors statement serve as the Air Force’s official “permanent record” of an organization to include when and where it was active. The following websites and publications are referenced for the official lineage and honors statements:
- Air Force Historical Research Agency Organizational Histories Branch
- Air Force Combat Units of World War II
- Combat Squadrons of World War II