Apollo 4 (AS-501) - 9 November 1967 - Unmanned

Recovery Force Ships
Ship Type Designation Covers
USS Austin SRS - Amphibious Transport LPD-4 Y
USS York County SRS - Tank Landing Ship LST-1175 Y
USS Hoist SRS - Salvage Ship ARS-40 Y
USS Joseph P Kennedy SRS - Destroyer DD-850 Y
USS Sabine SRS - Oiler AO-25 Y
USS Bennington PRS - Carrier CVS-20 Y
USS Carpenter1 SRS - Destroyer DD-825 Y (Scarce)
Recovery Control Centers
Kennedy Space Centerii Liftoff Control Center N/A Y
Norfolk2 Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force - Atlantic N/A Y
Tracking & Communication Ships
USNS Vanguard TS - Atlantic T-AGM 19 Y
USNS Rose Knot TS - Pacific T-AGM 14 Y
USNS Range Trackeriv TS - Pacific T-AGM 1 N
Not Involved
USNS Redstone Tracking Ship T-AGM 20 Y

Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Navy AS 501 Cachet - Atlantic

Designed by Morris Beck it shows a Seal

Black Rubber Stamp
Navy AS 501 Cachet - Pacific

Designed by Morris Beck it shows a Seal

 Maroon Rubber Stamp
Navy AS 204 Cachetii

Designed by Morris Beck for AS-204 (Apollo 1) it shows an Apollo Command Capsule

Maroon, Black Rubber Stamp
Beck AS 501 Cachet - Atlantic Similar to Navy Cachet Black Printed
Beck AS 501 Cachet - Pacific Similar to Navy Cachet Red Printed
Beck AS 204 Cachetii Similar to Navy Cachet Green-Black Printed
Orbit Cachet Printed cachet with Navy Cachet on back Green, Maroon Printed / Rubber Stamp
AS 501 Cachet A small circular text cachet usually appears as an extra cachet. Produced by Morris Beck. Maroon Rubber Stamp
Unknown Cachet 1a Splashdown & Recovery Operation Black Printed
Unknown Cachet 1b Splashdown & Recovery Operation - Different Black Printed

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS Bennington Machine Canceliii Common
USS Bennington Hand Cancel Less Common
USS Carpenter1 Hand Cancel Scarce
USS Carpenter BR. New York1 Red Scarce
USS York County PM Time Slug Common
USS York County AM Time Slug Less Common

Navy Recovery Force Cachet Colours & Beck Cachet Numbers


Known Cachet Colours

Beck Numbers

USS Austin Black 732
USS York County Black 746
USS Joseph P Kennedy Maroon 733
USS Sabine Black 731
USS Bennington Maroon 727, 728, 729, 730
Kennedy Space Centerii Maroon, Black 716, 717, 718, 719, 720

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Bennington Late Postmark - Return to Port? Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Bennington Apollo 3 man spacecraft & AS-501 Recovery Force cachets Aqua Rubber Stamp
USS Bennington Interesting Navy cachet with part blanked out Maroon Rubber Stamp
Various Splashdown and Recovery Operation cachet shows capsule on parachute & rescue ships Black Printed
USS Sabine2 USS Sabine postmark on a Beck B733 printed cover (B733 was reserved for the USS Joseph P. Kennedy). Also has a Norfolk postmark. Black Printed
Cape Canaverali AS-501 posponed from 6 Nov. to the 9 Nov. Black Printed
Kennedy Space Center Standard KSC cover with 2nd upside down postmark Maroon Rare
Kennedy Space Center5 Standard KSC cover with an added NASA AS501 Apollo Mission 4 cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
Fake Covers3
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Bennington Both the cachet & postmark are fakes. Believed to be done by a prisioner Purple Rubber Stamp
USS Bennington4 Another example of the fake. Believed to be done by a prisioner Purple Rubber Stamp

Notes General:
i) Cover is incorrectly labelled. Nov 6 was actually the start of phase 2 of the countdown and, as usual, included several holds. There appears to be no evidence that any of these lead to a postponment.
ii) These cachets were produced for Apollo 1 (AS 204) and after the fire, kept until this mission
iii) Many USS Bennington machine cancels are relatively light
iv) There is doubt as to whether the USNS Range Tracker was involved

Notes Other:
1) From the collection of Dennis Paul
2) From the collection of Tom Steiner
3) See 'Study of Suspect Space Covers' 2nd Edition, Paul C. Bulver et. al., Compact Disk(2001)
4) From the collection of David Ball via collectSPACE
5) From the collection of Timothy Preston


This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 11 May 2024