Ranks and insignia of the Red Army and Navy 1940–1943

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Georgy Zhukov in 1941, wearing the insignia of a Soviet army general

The ranks and rank insignia of the Red Army and Red Navy between 1940 and 1943 were characterised by continuing reforms to the Soviet armed forces in the period immediately before Operation Barbarossa and the war of national survival following it. The Soviet suspicion of rank and rank badges as a bourgeois institution remained, but the increasing experience of Soviet forces, and the massive increase in manpower all played their part, including the creation of a number of new general officer ranks and the reintroduction of permanent enlisted ranks and ratings.

Change of military rank insignia[edit]

From May 1940 the introduction of general ranks in the Red Army and flag officer ranks in the Soviet Navy was officially sanctioned, by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.[1] The following general officer ranks were introduced:

  • High level force commanding staff — major general, lieutenant general, colonel general and general of the army
  • Artillery commanders — major general of the artillery, lieutenant general of the artillery and colonel general of the artillery
  • Air force commanders (including naval aviation) — major general of the air force, lieutenant general of the air force, and colonel general of the air force
  • Armoured corps commanders — major general of the armoured corps, lieutenant general of the armoured corps, and colonel general of the armoured corps
  • Communications troops commanders — major general of the communications troops, lieutenant general of the communications troops and colonel general of the communications troops
  • Engineer troops commanders — major general of the engineer troops, lieutenant general of the engineer troops and colonel general of the engineer troops
  • Commanding staff of other troops (including: chemical, railway, transport and military cartography) — major general of the technical troops, lieutenant general of the technical troops, and colonel general of the technical troops
  • Leading staff of the commissariat service — major general of the commissariat service, lieutenant general of the commissariat service, and colonel general of the commissariat service
  • Flag officers of the Soviet Navy — rear admiral, vice admiral, admiral, and admiral of the fleet
  • Generals of the Soviet Navy on coastal service — major general of the coastal service, lieutenant general of the coastal service, and colonel general of the coastal service
  • Engineer flag officers of the Soviet Navy — rear admiral engineer, vice admiral engineer, and admiral engineer

On 4 June 1940, the first promotions to the newly established ranks were made. First to be promoted to the rank of army general were Zukov, Meretskov and Tyulenev. The rank insignia that characterized it were as follows:

  • Gorget patch: One large star in gold embroidery, on the lower part two round laurel twigs and the hammer & sickle emblem.
  • Sleeve: One large star in gold embroidery, red piping, below a red coloured chevron in gold embroidery, surrounded by two gold laurel-twigs with red piping.

The rank of marshal of the Soviet Union, established in September 1935, remained unchanged.[2] What would become a future rank system started to take shape with the promotion of the first Marshal of Artillery in early 1943, with the collar patch of a Marshal but in black.

With the new rank regulations came the reintroduction of the Yefreytor rank to the Army and Air Force and the introduction of new ratings for the Navy: Leading Red Fleet Man (naval services) and Yefreytor (coastal services).

Ranks and rank insignia[edit]

The general intention of rejecting traditional rank insignia (as opposed to the epaulettes and shoulder boards of Imperial Russian forces) was maintained. The large gorget patches were modified. The rhombic patches previously used by generals were replaced by one five-pointed golden star. A new emblem, the symbol of a particular branch of service, was added. The general's star remained slightly smaller than the marshal's star.

The small gorget patches, mounted on the tunic (or gymnastyorka), remained unchanged, but they were made in the corps colour and contained an emblem to indicate the branch of service or special appointment. The previously- used gold coloured rank chevrons for general ranks were retained with small modifications.

Corps colours, emblems[edit]

Gorget patches 1943

The corps colours of 1935 were maintained, with minor changes.

Trouser stripes, gorget rank insignia and cap piping was given to general officers and marshals of the Soviet Union:

  • Marshal of the Soviet Union and generic force commanders and commanding generals: deep red trouser stripes
  • Artillery and armour generals: black gorgets with red piping and deep red trouser stripes
  • Air force: Blue gorgets
  • Generals of communication troops, engineer troops, technical troops and the commissariat service: Crimson gorgets

The rank of general of the artillery, of armoured troops, of the air force, of communication troops, of engineer troops, of technical troops and of the commissariat service wore on the gorget the appropriate emblem of their branch of service, special force, or assignment. Corps colour, typical to the branch of service were:

  • Infantry: Raspberry
  • Artillery and transport troops: Black
  • Air force and air defence: Blue
  • Cavalry: Dark blue
  • Rear services (supply, maintenance, transport, medical, etc.): Dark green
  • Ministry of the interior and state security:
    • Border troops: Light green
    • State security: Blue
    • All others: Chestnut-brown

Rank insignia land forces and Air Force 1940–1943[edit]

Higher commanders[edit]

Designation Higher commanders
Rank
insignia
Collar RKKA 1940 collar OF10 marshal.svg RKKA 1940 collar OF9 general armii.svg RKKA 1940 collar OF8 general-polkovnik.svg RKKA 1940 collar OF7 general-leytenant.svg RKKA 1940 collar OF6 general-mayor.svg
Sleeve RKKA 1940 chevron OF10 marshal.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF9 general armii.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF6 OF7 OF8 general.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF6 OF7 OF8 general.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF6 OF7 OF8 general.svg
Rank designation Marshal of the Soviet Union General of the Army Colonel general Lieutenant general Major general
(Russian) (Маршал Советского Союза) (Генерал армии) (Генерал-полковник) (Генерал-лейтенант) (Генерал-майор)
OF-equivalent OF10 OF9 OF8 OF7 OF6

Middle and senior commanders[edit]

Designation Senior commanders Middle-level commanders
Rank
insignia
Coat-collar RKKA 1940 collar big OF5 polkovnik.svg RKKA 1935 collar big OF5 polkovnik 1940 OF4 podpolkovnik.svg RKKA 1935 collar big OF3 mayor.svg RKKA 1935 collar big OF2 kapitan.svg RKKA 1935 collar big OF1a starshy leytenant.svg RKKA 1935 collar big OF1b leytenant.svg RKKA 1937 collar big OF1c mladshy leytenant.svg
Gymnastjorka RKKA 1940 collar small OF5 polkovnik.svg RKKA 1935 collar small OF5 polkovnik 1940 OF4 podpolkovnik.svg RKKA 1935 collar small OF3 mayor.svg RKKA 1935 collar small OF2 kapitan.svg RKKA 1935 collar small OF1a starshy leytenant.svg RKKA 1935 collar small OF1b leytenant.svg RKKA 1937 collar small OF1c mladshy leytenant.svg
Sleeve RKKA 1940 chevron OF5 polkovnik.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF3 mayor OF4 podpolkovnik.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF3 mayor OF4 podpolkovnik.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF2 kapitan.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF1a starshy leytenant.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF1b leytenant.svg RKKA 1940 chevron OF1c mladshy leytenant.svg
Rank designation Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Senior lieutenant Lieutenant Junior lieutenant
(Russian) (Полковник) (Подполковник) (Майор) (Капитан) (Старший лейтенант) (Лейтенант) (Младший лейтенант)
OF-equivalent OF5 OF4 OF3 OF2 OF1

Junior commanders and enlisted men[edit]

Designation Junior commanders Enlisted men
Rank
insignia
Coat-collar RKKA 1941 collar big OR8 starshina.svg RKKA 1941 collar big OR7 starshy serzhant.svg RKKA 1941 collar big OR6 serzhant.svg RKKA 1941 collar big OR5 mladshy serzhant.svg RKKA 1941 collar big OR2 yefreitor.svg RKKA 1941 collar big OR1 krasnoarmeyets.svg
Gymnastjorka RKKA 1941 collar small OR8 starshina.svg RKKA 1941 collar small OR7 starshy serzhant.svg RKKA 1941 collar small OR6 serzhant.svg RKKA 1941 collar small OR5 mladshy serzhant.svg RKKA 1941 collar small OR2 yefreitor.svg RKKA 1941 collar small OR1 krasnoarmeyets.svg
Rank
designation
Starshina Senior sergeant Sergeant Junior sergeant Yefreytor Red Army man
(russian) (Старшина) (Старший сержант) (Сержант) (Младший сержант) (Ефрейтор) (Красноармеец)
OR-equivalent OR8 OR7 OR6 OR5 OR2 OR1

Rank insignia of the Soviet Navy 1940–1943[edit]

Flag officers[edit]

Designation Commander in chief, higher commanding flag officers and senior appointments
Sleeve insignia UdSSR Navy 1943-1955 OF9 insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF8 insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF7 insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF6 insignia.svg
Rank designation Admiral of the fleet Admiral Vice admiral Rear admiral
(Russian) (Адмирал флота) (Адмирал) (Вице-адмирал) (Контр-адмирал)
OF-equivalent OF9 OF8 OF7 OF6
coastal services and other branches
Rank designation no equivalent Colonel general Lieutenant general Major general
(Russian) (Генерал-полковник) (Генерал-лейтенант) (Генерал-майор)

Naval officers[edit]

Designation Commanding officers, commanders and sub-unit commanders
Sleeve insignia UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF5 insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF4 insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF3 insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF2 insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF1a insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF1b insignia.svg UdSSR Navy 1955-1991 OF1c insignia.svg
Rank designation Captain 1st rank Captain 2nd rank Captain 3rd rank Captain lieutenant Senior lieutenant Lieutenant Junior lieutenant
(Russian) (Капитан 1 ранга) (Капитан 2 ранга) (Капитан 3 ранга) (Капитан-лейтенант) (Старший лейтенант) (Лейтенант) (Младший лейтенант)
OF-equivalent OF5 OF4 OF3 OF2 OF1
coastal services and other branches
Rank designation Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Senior lieutenant Lieutenant Junior lieutenant
(Russian) Полковник (Подполковник) (Майор) (Капитан) (Старший лейтенант) (Лейтенант) (Млаший лейтенант)
Lower commanding staff and enlisted ratings[edit]
Designation Lower commanding staff and specialists Enlisted men
Sleeve insignia (RKKF) Michman1943.png RAF N R8Starshina 1924-1940.gif (RKKF) Squad Leader.png RAF N R2SeniorRedNavyMan 1940-1946.gif RAF N R1RedNavyMan 1918-1945.gif Rkkf-Rednavyman.jpg
Rank designation Midshipman Chief
Petty Officer
Petty Officer
1st class
Petty Officer
2nd class
Senior red fleet man Red fleet man
(Russian) (Мичман) (Главный старшина) (Старшина 1-й статьи) (Старшина 2-й статьи) (Старший краснофлотец) (Краснофлотец)
OR-equivalent OR8 OR7 OR6 OR4 OR2 OR1
coastal services and other branches
Rank designation Major sergeant Senior sergeant Sergeant Junior sergeant Senior red fleet man Red fleet man
(Russian) (Старшина) (Старший сержант) (Cержант) (Младший сержант) (Старший краснофлотец) (Краснофлотец)

The 1940 regulations reinstated ground force-style ranks to the coastal services of the Navy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Decree of the "Presidium of the Supreme Soviet" of 7 May 1943
  2. ^ Disposal by the central executive committee of the Council of People's Commissars, of 22 September 1935