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

Ranks and rank insignia of the Red Army 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.


Change of military rank insignia

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

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

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 1940–1943

Generals

Designation Commander in chief, higher commanders and top appointments
Rank
insignia
Gorget insignia Marshal RKKA 1940-1943.png RA A F9GenArmy 1943.png RA A F8ColGen 1943.PNG RA A F7LtGen 1943.PNG RA AF F8-Gen-polkovnik 1943.png RA AF F7LtGen 1943.png RA AF F6MajGen 1943.png RA A-armor F6MajGen 1943.png RA A F6MajGen 1943.PNG
Sleeve en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! Five-pointed small stars in gold embroidery, piping in corps colour, below an embroidered gold chevron
Corps colour Land forces (generic), infantry & motorized rifles Air Force Armoured corps Generic
Rank designation Marshal of the Soviet Union General of the Army Colonel general Lieutenant general
generic
Colonel general
of the Air Force
Lieutenant general
of the Air Force
Major general
of the Air Force
Major general
of the armoured corps
Major general
(generic)
(Russian) (Маршал Советского Союза) (Генерал армии) (Генерал-полковник) (Генерал-лейтенант) (Генерал-полковник
авиации)
(Генерал-лейтенант
авиации)
(Генерал-майор
авиации)
(Генерал-майор
танковых войск)
(Генерал-майор)
OF-equivalent OF10 OF9 OF8 OF7 OF8 OF7 OF6

Officers

Designation Higher commanders and unit commanders
Rank
insignia
Gorget insignia
(land forces)
RA A F5Col 1943 h.png RA A F5-Polkovnik-1940 F4-Podpolkovnik-1943.png RA A F3Maj 1943.png RA A F2Capt 1943.png RA A F1-1Lt 1943.png RA A F1-2Lt 1943.png RA A F1-3Lt 1943.png
Gorget insignia
(Air force)
RA AF F5-Polkovnik 1943h.png RA AF F5-Polkovnik-1940 F4-Podpolkovnik-1943h.png RA AF F3-Mayor 1943h.png RA AF F2Capt 1943h.png RA AF F1a-St-leytenant 1943h.png RA AF F1b-Leytenant 1943h.png OF1-AF F1c-Ml-leytenant 1943h.png
Gorget insignia
(Armoured corps)
en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! RA A-arm 1943h.png RA A-arm OF1c JunLt 1943h.PNG
Sleeve en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture! en: Request for creation and upload of a picture!
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

Lower commanding staff and enlisted men

Designation Sub-subunit leaders and enlisted men
Rank insignia Gorget RA A R8SergMaj col 1943.PNG RA A R7SFC col 1943.PNG RA A R6SGT col 1943.PNG RA-A R4CPL col 1943.PNG RA A R2PVT col 1943.PNG RA A R1RA-Sol col 1943.png Land forces
(generic)
RA A-cav R1RA-Sol col 1943.jpg Cavalry
Sleeve No insignia
Rank designation Starshina Senior sergeant Sergeant Junior sergeant Corporal Red Army soldier
(Russian) (Старшина) ( Старший сержант) (Сержант) ( Младший сержант) ( Ефрейтор) (Красноapмеец)
OR-equivalent OR8 OR7 OR6 OR4 OR2 OR1

Rank insignia of the Soviet Navy 1940–1943

Rank insignia for naval service personnel

Flag officers

Designation Commander in chief, higher commanding flag officers and senior appointments
Sleeve insignia RAF N F9AdmiralFleet 1943.jpg RAF N F8Admiral 1943.jpg RAF N F7ViceAdmiral 1943.jpg RAF N F6RearAdmiral 1943.jpg
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

Naval officers

Designation Commanding officers, commanders and sub-unit commanders
Sleeve insignia Red Fleet Insignia 10.svg Red Fleet Insignia 9.svg Red Fleet Insignia 8.svg Red Fleet Insignia 7.svg Red Fleet Insignia 6.svg Red Fleet Insignia 5.svg Red Fleet Insignia 4.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
Lower commanding staff and enlisted ratings
Designation Lower commanding staff and specialists Enlisted men
Sleeve insignia Red Fleet Insignia 2b.svg Red Fleet Insignia 2a.svg Red Fleet Insignia 1b.svg Red Fleet Insignia 1a.svg RAF N R1RedNavyMan 1918-1945.gif small red star
(without yellow border)
Rank designation Michman Glavny starshina Starshina
1st stage
Starshina
2nd stage
Leading Red Fleet sailor Red Fleet sailor
(Russian) (Мичман) (Главный старшина) (Старшина 1-й статьи) (Старшина 2-й статьи) (Старший краснофлотец) (Краснофлотец)
OR-equivalent OR8 OR7 OR6 OR4 OR2 OR1

Rank insignia of the Soviet Navy 1940–1943 (coastal services and other branches)

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

Flag officers
Designation Higher commanding flag officers, and top appointments
Sleeve insignia RAF N F8Admiral 1943.jpg RAF N F7ViceAdmiral 1943.jpg RAF N F6RearAdmiral 1943.jpg
Rank designation Colonel general Lieutenant general Major general
(Russian) (Генерал-полковник) (Генерал-лейтенант) (Генерал-майор))
OF-equivalent OF8 OF7 OF6
Senior and company grade officers
Designation Commanding officers, commanders, and sub-unit commanders
Sleeve insignia Red Fleet Insignia 10.svg Red Fleet Insignia 9.svg Red Fleet Insignia 8.svg Red Fleet Insignia 7.svg Red Fleet Insignia 6.svg Red Fleet Insignia 5.svg Red Fleet Insignia 4.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
Lower commanding staff and enlisted personnel
Designation Lower commanding staff, specialists Enlisted men
Sleeve insignia Red Fleet Insignia 2b.svg Red Fleet Insignia 2a.svg Red Fleet Insignia 1b.svg Red Fleet Insignia 1a.svg RAF N R2SeniorRedNavyMan 1940-1946.gif RAF N R1RedNavyMan 1918-1945.gif
Rank designation Warrant officer Senior sergeant Sergeant Junior sergeant Leading Red Fleet sailor
(1940–1945)
Red Fleet sailor
(1918–1945)
(Russian) (Старшина) (Старший сержант) (Cержант) (Младший сержант) (Старший краснофлотец) (Краснофлотец)
OR-equivalent OR8 OR7 OR6 OR4 OR2 OR1

See also

References

  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