Ranks and insignia of the Red Army and Navy 1935–1940

Individual rank insignia to the (Army) ground forces and (Navy) naval forces (1935–1940) were established by orders 2590 and 2591, effective from September 22, 1935.[1]

This was mainly directed to supreme commanders, commanding officers, and personnel in charge to exert command and control in the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, published by order number 176 of the USSR People's Commissariat of Defense, dated from December 03, 1935.[2]

Situation in 1935

According to these new orders, new insignia of command personnel should indicate:

  • Branch of service (e.g. Army, Air Force, or Navy), or special troops
  • Qualification, professional responsibility, specific knowledge
  • Rank insignia, operational/ tactical responsibility, e.g. level of military command, formation, unit, or sub-unit.

The top military rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union was created by order of the USSR Central Executive Committee and the “Council of People's Commissars” from September 22, 1935 onward, before the new ranks were issued.

Military ranks

The military ranks created as a result of the joint decision of the “USSR Central Executive Committee” and the “Council of People's Commissars” from November 21, 1935 are contained in the table below. These replaced the ranks used from 1924.

Land forces
Air Force
Naval forces equivalent in GUGB/NKWD
Enlisted men & junior leading staff
Red Army ManOR1[3]Red Fleet Man
(from 1943: Matros)
OR1no equivalent
Otdeljonnyi komandirOR6
Junior commanderOR7No equivalent
StarshinaOR8
Commanding staff
LieutenantOF1[4]Sergeant of the state security
Starshy leytenantMladshy leytenant of state security
KapitanOF2Captain lieutenantOF2Lieutenant of state security
MajorOF3Captain 3rd rankOF3Starshy leytenant of state security
PolkovnikOF5Kapitan 2nd rankOF4Kapitan of state security
KombrigOF6Kapitan 1st rankOF5Mayor of state security
KomdivOF7Flag officer 2nd rankOF6Starshy mayor of state security
KomkorOF8Flag Officer 1st rankOF7Commissioner of state security 3rd rank
Komandarm 2nd rankOF9Fleet Flag Officer 2nd rankOF8Commissioner of state security 2nd rank
Komandarm 1st rankFleet Flag Officer 1st rankOF9Commissioner of state security 1st rank
Marshal of the Soviet UnionOF10No equivalentState Security Commissioner general

Additional regulations

The same orders mentioned above provided for separate ranks for the Political commissars and military specialists, as in the table below.

Military-political staff
all service branches
Military-technician staff Military-administration and support all service branches Military-medical service all service branches Military-veterinarian all service branches Military-legal service all service branches
Land forces &
Air Force
Naval forces
No rank establishedMil-technician 2nd rankTechnical-intendant 2nd rankArmy-surgeonVeterinarian army-surgeonJunior military jurist
Politleader Mil-technician 1st rankTechnical-intendant 1st rankSenior army-surgeonSenior veterinarian army-surgeonMilitary jurist
Senior political leader Mil-engineer 3rd rankIntendant 3rd rankMilitary physician 3rd rankMilitary veterinarian 3rd rankMilitary jurist 3rd rank
Bataillon commissar Mil-engineer 2nd rankIntendant 2nd rankMil-physician 2nd rankMil-vet-physician 2nd rankMilitary jurist 2nd rank
Regimental commissar Mililitary engineer 1st rankIntendant 1st rankMil-physician 1st rankMil-vet-physician 1st rankMilitary jurist 1st rank
Brigade commissar Brig-engineerEngineer Flag officer 3rd rankBrig-intendantBrig-physicianBrig-vet-physicianBrig-mil-jurist
Division commissar Div-engineerEngineer Flag officer 2nd rankDiv-intendantDiv-physicianDiv-vet-pysicianDiv-mil-jurist
Corps commissar Cor-engineerEngineer Flag officer 1st rankCor-intendantCor-physicianCor-vet-pysicianCor-military-jurist
Army commissar 2nd rank Army engineerFleet Engineer Flag officerArmy intendantArmy physicianArmy veterinarianArmy military-jurist
Army commissar 1st rank No equivalent ranks created

1937

More regulations were established in 1937, following general instructions of the Red Army. According to paragraph 10 of this instruction, the following subdivision of personnel was made:

  • Leading staff: Military officers and heads of departments, military administration and commissariat, medical service, veterinarian service, military legal service
  • Commanding staff: Personnel with the ranks commander in chief and commander
  • Junior commanding staff
  • Enlisted men/ratings

Paragraph 14 of this instruction contained the individual ranks and rank designations according to the order of September 22, 1935, and thus officially sanctioned the additional established OF-1c ranks (Junior lieutenant and Junior military technician), taking effect on August 5, 1937.

1939

By decision of the extraordinary session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (end of August until early September 1939) the law on universal compulsory service took effect, and the new OF4-ranks of Podpolkovnik and Battalion commissar were introduced as a result of the amendments to the rank regulations of 1935. An equivalent OF4-rank for the Soviet navy was not established, however.

Rank designations

In addition to individual ranks the establishment of defined rank insignia was made in December 1935 as well. From this time military staff, including political commissars, military administration, commissariat, medical service, veterinarian service, and military legal service of the Red Army wore rank insignia as follows:

  • Rank insignia chevron: on both sleeves (short above the cuff)
  • Rank insignia big: on both collar-edges of the uniform coat
  • Rank insignia small: on both collar-edges of the battle jacket (Gymnastjorka)

However, naval military staff wore sleeve insignia (stripes and stars) on both sleeves of the uniform.

Commander in chief, higher commanding officers and top appointments OF10 to OF6
  • Rank insignia, big (overcoat): on a rhombic padding, gold coloured border, one to four rhombic red enameled badges, gold coloured Soviet star small/ big
  • Rank insignia, small (Gymnastjorka): on rectangle padding, gold coloured border, one to four rhombic red enameled badges
  • Sleeve insignia (overcoat): one to four gold colored chevrons, Soviet star small/ big, one red coloured extra chevron OF10
Commanding officers and unit leaders OF5, OF3 and OF2
  • Rank insignia big (over coat): on rhombic padding, gold coloured border, one to three red enameled rectangle badges
  • Rank insignia small (Gymnastjorka): on rectangle padding, gold coloured border, one to four red enameled rectangle badges
Subunit leader OF1
  • Rank insignia big (over coat): on rhombic padding, gold coloured border, one to four red enameled square badges
  • Rank insignia small (Gymnastjorka): on rectangle padding, gold coloured border, one to four red enameled square badges
Sub-subunit leader and enlisted men OR8 to OR1
  • Sub-subunit leader
    • Rank insignia big (over coat): on rhombic padding, gold coloured border, one to three red enameled triangular badges
    • Rank insignia small (Gymnastjorka): on rectangle padding, gold coloured border, one to four red enameled triangular badges
  • Enlisted men: simple rank insignia big (over coat)/ simple rank insignia small (Gymnastjorka)

Table of rank insignia land forces and Air Force 1935–1940

Higher commanders

DesignationHigher commanders
Rank
insignia
Coat-collar
Gymnastjorka
Sleeve chevron
Rank designationMarshal of the Soviet UnionKomandarm 1st rankKomandarm 2nd rankKomkorKomdivKombrig
(native designation)(Маршал Советского Союза)(Командарм 1-го ранга)(Командарм 2-го ранга)(Комкор)(Комдив)(Комбриг)
OF-equivalent OF10 OF9 OF8 OF7 OF6
Rank designation after 1940 No change General of the Army
(Chief marshal of the branch & Marshal of the branch)
Colonel general Lieutenant general Major General

Middle and senior commanders

DesignationSenior commandersMiddle-level commanders
Rank
insignia
Coat-collar
Gymnastjorka
Sleeve chevron
Rank designation PolkovnikMajorKapitanStarshy leytenantLieutenantMladshy leytenant
(adopted 1937)
(Native designation) (Полковник) (Майор)(Капитан)(Старший лейтенант)(Лейтенант)(Младший лейтенант)
OF-equivalent OF5 OF3 OF2 OF1

Junior commanders and enlisted men

DesignationJunior commandersEnlisted men
Rank
insignia
Coat-collar
Gymastjorka
Rank
designation
Starshina Junior platoon commander Section commander Red army man
(native designation) (Сташина) (Младший комвзвод) (Отделённый командир) (Красноармеец)
OR-equivalent OR8 OR7 OR6 OR1
Rank designation after 1940 No change Starshiy serzhant Serzhant No change
(native designation) (Старший сержант) (Cержа́нт)

Table of rank insignia for the navy 1935–1940

The following ranks and insignia were used by the Soviet Navy from 1935 to 1940.

Flag officers

DesignationCommander in chief, higher commanders and top appointments
Sleeve insignia
Rank
designation
Flag officer of the fleet
1st rank
Flag officer of the fleet
2nd rank
Flag officer
1st rank
Flag officer
2nd rank
(native designation) (Флагман флота 1-го ранга) (Флагман флота 2-го ранга) (Флагман 1-го ранга) (Флагман 2-го ранга)
OF-equivalent OF9 OF8 OF7 OF6
Rank designation after 1940 Admiral of the Fleet Admiral Vice admiral Counter admiral

Officers

DesignationCommanding officers and unit leaders
Sleeve insignia
Rank
designation
Kapitan 1st rank Kapitan 2nd rank Kapitan 3rd rank Kapitan leytenant Starshy leytenant Leytetant Mladshiy leytenant
(from 1937 onward)
(native designation) (Капитана 1-го ранга) (Капитана 2-го ранга) (Капитана 3-го ранга) (Капитан-лейтенанта) (Стазший лейтенанта) (Лейтенанта) (Младший лейтенант)
OF-equivalent OF5 OF4 OF3 OF2 OF1

Sub-subunit leader and enlisted men

DesignationSub-subunit leaders, specialists & enlisted men
Sleeve insignia
Rank
designation
Starshina Squad commander Krasnoflotets
(native designation) (Старшина) (Отделенный командир) (Краснофлотеец)
OR-equivalent OR7 OR6 OR1

See also

References

  1. Rank insignia and sequence of ranks of the “Workers' and Peasants' Red Army” as to order number 2590 of the “USSR Central Executive Committee” and “Council of People's Commissars” from September 22, 1935. Other solutions to ground forces and navy of the “Workers' and Peasants' Red Army” were disposed by order 2591.
  2. Order number 176 of the „People's Commissar of Defence of the USSR” from December 3, 1935 pertaining individual military ranks of the land forces and the Navy of the “Workers' and Peasants' Red Army”.
  3. The abbreviation "OR" stands for "Other Ranks / fr: sous-officiers et militaires du rang / ru:другие ранги, кроме офицероф"
  4. The abbreviation "OF" stands for de: "Offizier / en: officer / fr: officier / ru: офицер"
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