Although the term six-star rank has never been explicitly established by any nation, the American supreme rank of General of the Armies came to be associated with a six-star insignia towards the end of World War II.
The term six-star is based on the proposed, but never adopted, insignia for the U.S. rank of general of the armies (note plural). The relative position of some U.S. ranks that used the word 'supreme', awarded prior to the creation of the explicitly five-star ranks of general of the army and fleet admiral, in December 1944, is unclear.
The United States military has never explicitly endorsed a six-star rank. The rank of general of the armies was first created in 1799, but not awarded, thus the determination of the number of stars was never an issue. At the time the highest number of stars used had been the three stars worn by George Washington as the "General and Commander in Chief" of the Continental Army.
The specific notion of a six-star insignia only emerged with the inter-related history of General John Pershing's 1919 promotion to general of the armies and the 1944 creation of the five-star general of the army. Pershing was promoted to general of the armies in 1919, from what was then the highest rank, the four-star rank of general. Under the regulations of the time he was permitted to choose his insignia, and he chose four gold stars, rather than a possible five silver stars, in contrast to the four silver stars used by U.S. generals and admirals. General Pershing was still alive in 1944 when the specific five-star rank of general of the army was created. It was explicitly stated that he remained senior to the new five-star appointments, though there was no mention of this meaning a change in his insignia to either five gold stars or possibly six silver stars.
In 1945, in preparation for the invasion of Japan, it was proposed that five-star General of the Army Douglas MacArthur be promoted to General of the Armies, and that this would explicitly be a six-star rank. However, this and subsequent proposals were never completed. The Institute of Heraldry produced a single sketch of how the insignia for a six-star rank would appear; this sketch was later filed in Douglas MacArthur's service record.
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2010)|
- Service Record of Douglas MacArthur – 1945 Promotion Proposal Package – National Personnel Records Center.[not specific enough to verify]
See also 
- General of the Armies of the United States
- Admiral of the Navy (United States)
- Highest military ranks