Ranks and insignia of the Red Army 1940–1943

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:

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:

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:

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:

Rank insignia land forces 1940–1943


Designation Commander in chief, higher commanders and top appointments
Gorget insignia
Sleeve 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
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
(Russian) (Маршал Советского Союза) (Генерал армии) (Генерал-полковник) (Генерал-лейтенант) (Генерал-полковник
танковых войск)
OF-equivalent OF10 OF9 OF8 OF7 OF8 OF7 OF6


Designation Higher commanders and unit commanders
Gorget insignia
(land forces)
Gorget insignia
(Air force)
Gorget insignia
(Armoured corps)
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 Land forces
Air Force
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 OR5 OR2 OR1

Rank insignia of the Soviet Navy 1940–1943

Flag officers

Designation Commander in chief, higher commanding flag officers and senior appointments
Sleeve insignia
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)
Designation Commanding officers, commanders and sub-unit commanders
Sleeve insignia
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
Designation Lower commanding staff and specialists Enlisted men
Sleeve insignia small red star
(without yellow border)
Rank designation Michman Glavny starshina Starshina
1st stage
2nd stage
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 Stashina Senior sershant Sershant Junior sershant 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


  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
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