Comparative Military Ranks
(major European powers)

The first table is the names of the various national military organizations. The US section is actually somewhat incorrect, as the US had two different organizations – the Regular Army and the Army of the United States – and a given officer might hold different rank in each. For the purpose of fanfic writing, however, "US Army" is sufficient. Also, the US Army Air Forces was known as the US Army Air Corps prior to 1942, just to make things even more complicated. The Germans also had the Allgemeine SS, which is what most people think of when they see "SS" and the Waffen-SS, which was a military force but used the Allgemeine SS ranks.

The second table is a rough summary of the relative officer ranks of the major European powers during WWII (enlisted ranks still to come). In the case of the Soviet ranks, they are listed as English translations for most (but not all), but they are still awaiting a proper transliteration of their Russian names, as having them in Cyrillic does fanfic writers little good. You will have to scroll sideways to see all of it; it just couldn't be made to fit on any reasonably-sized screen without breaking it up.

The designations in the header row are the NATO rank codes. Most of the countries listed have two elements to their O1 rank, such as 2nd Lieutenant and 1st Lieutenant; some subdivide it even further. Also, there are a number of ranks higher than O-10, but those have been left off as they are generally either ceremonial or unique to heads of state, high officials, etc., as opposed to part of the regular military structure.

countryarmynavyair force
CommonwealthBritish ArmyRoyal NavyRoyal Air Force
USAUS ArmyUS NavyArmy Air Forces
ItalyRegio EsercitoRègia MarinaRègia Aeronautica

countryserviceOF-1 (lower)OF-1 (higher)OF-2OF-3OF-4OF-5OF-6OF-7OF-8OF-9OF-10
CommonwealthArmy2nd Lieutenant1st LieutenantCaptainMajorLieutenant ColonelColonelBrigadier GeneralMajor GeneralLieutenant GeneralGeneralField Marshal
NavyCommissioned W/OSub-LieutenantLieutenantLieutenant-CommanderCommanderCaptainCommodoreRear-AdmiralVice-AdmiralAdmiralAdmiral of the Fleet
Air ForcePilot OfficerFlying OfficerFlight LieutenantSquadron LeaderWing CommanderGroup CaptainAir CommodoreAir Vice-MarshalAir MarshalAir Chief MarshalMarshal of the RAF
FranceArmySous-lieutenantLieutenantCapitaineCommandantLieutenant-colonelColonelGénéral de brigadeGénéral de divisionGénéral de
corps d'armée
Général d'arméeMaréchal
NavyEnseigne de vaisseau
de 2nde classe
Enseigne de Vaisseau
de 1re classe
Lieutenant de
Capitaine de CorvetteCapitaine de FrégateCapitaine de VaisseauCapitaine de Vaisseau
Chef de Division
Contre-AmiralVice-Amiral d'EscadreAmiralAmiral de la Flotte
Air ForceSous-lieutenantLieutenantCapitaineCommandantLieutenant-colonelColonelGénéral de
brigade aérienne
Général de
division aérienne
Général de corps
d'armée aérienne
d'armée aérienne
USAArmy2nd Lieutenant1st LieutenantCaptainMajorLieutenant ColonelColonelBrigadier GeneralMajor GeneralLieutenant GeneralGeneralGeneral of the Army
NavyEnsignLieutenant JGLieutenantLieutenant CommanderCommanderCaptainCommodoreRear AdmiralVice AdmiralAdmiralFleet Admiral
USSRArmyJunior Lieutenant
Senior LieutenantCaptainMajorPodpolkovnikPolkovnik General-MajorGeneral-LieutenantGeneral-ColonelGeneral of the Army
or Marshal
Chief Marshal
NavyJunior Lieutenant
Senior LieutenantCaptain-LieutenantCaptain 3rd rankCaptain 2nd rankCaptain 1st rank Counter-AdmiralVice-AdmiralAdmiralAdmiral of the Fleet
NavyLeutnant zur SeeOberleutnant zur SeeKapitänleutnantKorvettenkapitänFregattenkapitänKonteradmiralKommodoreVizeadmiralAdmiralGeneraladmiralGrossadmiral
Air ForceLeutnantOberleutnantHauptmannMajorOberstleutnantOberstGeneralmajorGeneralleutnantGeneralGeneraloberstGeneralfeldmarschall
Primo TenenteCapitano
Primo Capitano
MaggioreTenente ColonnelloColonnelloGenerale di BrigataGenerale di DivisioneGenerale di
Corpo d'Armata
Generale d'ArmataMaresciallo d'Italia
NavyGuardiamarinaSottotenente di VascelloTenente di VascelloCapitano di CorvettaCapitano di FregataCapitano di VascelloContrammiraglioAmmiraglio di DivisioneAmmiraglio di SquadraAmmiraglio di ArmataGrand'Ammiraglio
Air ForceSottotenente
Primo TenenteCapitano
Primo Capitano
MaggioreTenente ColonnelloColonnelloGenerale di
Brigata Aerea
Generale di
Divisione Aerea
Generale di
Squadra Aerea
GeneraleMaresciallo dell'Aria

To better understand the ranks listed here, you are strongly advised to research the military organization in question in greater detail. This is of necessity only a brief (and possibly inaccurate) summary; the real situation, complicated by both time and place, is far more complex, and if it makes a difference to your story, it behooves you to find out what it should be.

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