Ranks and insignia of the Imperial Russian Armed Forces

Summary

The Imperial Russian Army (Russian: Ру́сская импера́торская а́рмия, РИА) and the Imperial Russian Navy (Russian: Российский императорский флот) used ranks and rank insignia derived from the German model.[1] However, the entire rank system was also closely connected to the Russian military traditions. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the Red Army abolished the entire Imperial system of ranks and rank insignia, while military units and formations of the opposing White movement retained the Imperial rank system until 1923.

Army ranks and rank designationEdit

The following ranks and their respective insignia were also used by the personnel of the Imperial Russian Air Service from 1912 to 1917.

OfficersEdit

Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
Rank code K-1 K-2 K-3 K-4 K-5 K-6 K-7 K-8 K-9 K-10 K-12 K-13
Epaulettes
(?–?)
                       
Shoulder straps
(?–?)
                       
Field insignia
(1914–1917)
                   
Генерал-фельдмаршал
General-fel'dmarshal
Генерал рода войск
General roda voysk
Генерал-лейтенант
General-leytenant
Генерал-майор
General-mayor
Полковник
Polkovnik
Подполковник
Podpolkovnik
Майор
Mayor
(abolished 1884)
Капитан
Kapitan
Штабс-капитан
Shtabs-kapitan
Поручик
Poruchik
Подпоручик
Podporuchik
Прапорщик
Praporshchik

Non-commissioned officers & enlisted menEdit

Rank group Non-commissioned officers
(Russian: Унтер-офицеры, romanized: Unter-ofitsery)
Enlisted
(Russian: Рядовые, romanized: Rydovye)
Shoulder boards              
Artillery Зауряд-прапорщик
Zauryad-praporshchik
Подпрапорщик
Podpraporshchik
Фельдфебель
Fel'dfebel'
Старший Фейерверкер
Starshiy feyyerverker
Младший Фейерверкер
Mladshiy feyyerverker
Бомбардир
Bombardyr
Канонир
Kanonir
Infantry Старший унтер-офицер
Starshiy unter-ofitser
Младший унтер-офицер
Mladshiy unter-ofitser
Ефрейтор
Yefreytor
Рядовой
Ryadovoy
Cavalry Вахмистр
Vachmistr
Cossacks Подхорунжий
Podkhorunzhiy
Старший урядник
Starshyy uryadnyk
Младший урядник
Mladshiy uryadnik
Приказный
Prikaznyy
Казак
Kazak

Other regiments and cadet corpsEdit

The following shoulder board insignias of the Imperial Army used by specific units and cadet corps are illustrated below:

Naval ranks and rank insigniaEdit

Rank, category and designation Flag officers and general ranks Staff officers (Russian: Shtabs-ofitsery) Senior officers (ober-ofitsery)
Class
as to Table of Ranks
K1 K2 K3 K4 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10
Epaulette Maritime
service
Generaladmiral
(General-admiral)
Admiral Viceadmiral
(Vitse-admiral)
Counter admiral
(Kontr-admiral)
Captain 1st rank
(Kapitan 1-go ranga)
Captain 2nd rank
(Kapitan 2-go ranga)
Captain lieutenant
(1907-1911)
(Kapitan-leytenant)
Senior lieutenant
(after 1909)
(Starshi leytenant)
Lieutenant
(Leytenant)
Michman
(after 1909) (until 1909)
                     
Shore
Establishment

(after 1913)
no equivalent General Lieutenant general
(General-leytenant)
Major general
(General-mayor)
     
Shoulder
board
Maritime
service
Generaladmiral
(General-admiral)
Admiral Viceadmiral
(Vitse-admiral)
Rear admiral
(Kontr-admiral)
             
       
Shore
establishment

(after 1913)
no equivalent General Lieutenant general
(General-leytenant)
Major general
(General-mayor)
     
Ref. [2][3]

Non-commissioned officers & enlisted ratings, naval servicesEdit

Designation
Petty officers & enlisted ratings
Rank insignia
epaulettes
and shoulder boards
Gardemarin Senior boatswain Junior conductor Helmsman conductor Boatswain Coxswain Unteroffizier (since 1909)
Quartermaster (until 1908)
Seaman 1st rank Seaman 2nd rank
                   
(abolished 1883) 1904–1913 1913–1917 1904–1913 1913–1917
Russian transliteration (Gardmarin) (Starshy botsman) (Konduktor) (Botsman) (Botsmanmat) (Unter-ofizer
Kwartirmeister
)
(Matros pervoi stati) (Matros vtoroi stati)
Ref. [4][5]

Ranks of coastal servicesEdit

Ranks similar to those of the Imperial Army were, beginning in the late 18th century, used by the coastal services of the Imperial Russian Navy.

General officersEdit

Designation Higher commanders
 
Rank designation
epaulettes
and shoulder boards
 
         
Rank General of the fleet Lieutenant general Major general
Russian transliteration (Флота генерал)
(Flota general)
(Генера́л-лейтена́нт)
(General-leitenant)
(Генера́л-майо́р)
(General-maior)

OfficersEdit

Designation Field and junior grade officers
                     
Rank insignia
epaulettes
and shoulder boards
Rank Brigadier
(abolished 1798)
Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major
(abolished 1884)
Captain Staff captain Lieutenant Sub-lieutenant Ensign
Russian transliteration Brigadir Polkovnik Podpolkovnik Mayor Kapitan Shtabs-kapitan Poruchik Podporuchik Praporshchik
Rank group Staff officer Junior officer

Non-commissioned officers & enlisted menEdit

Designation Non-commissioned officers & enlisted men
             
Rank insignia
shoulder strap
Rank Warrant officer
(1855-1917)
Boatswain Senior under officer Junior under officer Seaman 1st rank Seaman 2nd rank
Russian translation (Старший боцман, кондуктор) (Боцман) (Старший унтер-офицер,
starschy unter-ofizer)
(Младший унтер-офицер,
mladschy unter-ofizer)
(Матрос 1-й статьи,
Matros 1 statji)
(Матрос 2-й статьи,
Matros 2 statji)
Rank group NCO Soldier

Sleeve insignia of the Russian Navy from April 16, 1917Edit

By order № 125 of the Navy Ministry of the Russian Provisional Government, from April 16, 1917 was provided:

  1. Abolishment of the hitherto used shoulder rank insignia.
  2. Abolishment of the (naval) scarf.
  3. Deletion of any monogram, or initial letter on weapons and equipment.
  4. Paint over of the cockade center on caps with red color, until availability of the peaked cap with new national emblem.

The traditional shoulder rank insignia were replaced by golden sleeve strips for naval officers, admiralty officers, and naval engineers, as well as – after completion of mandatory examinations – praporshchiks and officers of the hydrographical service.

Silver sleeve strips were introduced to officers of the admiralty staff, before completion of mandatory examinations, as well to ship engineers, officials of the naval administration and naval physicians with officer rank or status.

Both cuff insignias were used in uniforms with the executive curl.

As discrimination criteria to specific appointments or assignments additional corps colours on the lower part of sleeve stripes was determinate:

  • red = ship engineers;
  • raspberry coloured = naval administration;
  • dark blue = hydrographical service;
  • white = physicians

The table below shows examples of rank insignia of the Russian Navy, to be worn on the lower part of uniform cuffs, as to the order № 125 of the Russian Navy Ministry from April 16, 1917.

Rank group Admirals Staff officers Senior officers
Rank code K-2 K-3 K-4 K-6 K-7 K-8 K-9 K-10 K-12 K-14
Sleeve insignia                    
Адмирал
Admiral
Вице-адмирал
Vitse-admiral
Контр-адмирал
Contre-admiral
Капитан 1-го ранга
Kapitan 1-go ranga
Капитан 2-го ранга
Kapitan 2-go ranga
Старший лейтенант
Starshey leytenant
Лейтенант
Leytenant
Мичман
Michman
Подпоручик
Podporuchik
Прапорщик
Praporshchik

US equivalent

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Erich Donnert. Peter der Große. Leipzig: Koehler & Amelang. p. 130.
  2. ^ Эполеты Флотских Экипажей и Свиты Его Императорского Величества при обще-адмиральской и обще-флотской форме (in Russian)
  3. ^ Чины по Адмиралтейству при различных формах (in Russian)
  4. ^ Кондуктора Гвардейского и Флотских Экипажей (in Russian)
  5. ^ Нижние чины Гвардейского и Флотских Экипажей (in Russian)