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.
|Commonwealth||British Army||Royal Navy||Royal Air Force|
|USA||US Army||US Navy||Army Air Forces|
|Italy||Regio Esercito||Règia Marina||Règia Aeronautica|
|country||service||OF-1 (lower)||OF-1 (higher)||OF-2||OF-3||OF-4||OF-5||OF-6||OF-7||OF-8||OF-9||OF-10|
| ||Commonwealth||Army||2nd Lieutenant||1st Lieutenant||Captain||Major||Lieutenant Colonel||Colonel||Brigadier General||Major General||Lieutenant General||General||Field Marshal
|Navy||Commissioned W/O||Sub-Lieutenant||Lieutenant||Lieutenant-Commander||Commander||Captain||Commodore||Rear-Admiral||Vice-Admiral||Admiral||Admiral of the Fleet|
|Air Force||Pilot Officer||Flying Officer||Flight Lieutenant||Squadron Leader||Wing Commander||Group Captain||Air Commodore||Air Vice-Marshal||Air Marshal||Air Chief Marshal||Marshal of the RAF|
|France||Army||Sous-lieutenant||Lieutenant||Capitaine||Commandant||Lieutenant-colonel||Colonel||Général de brigade||Général de division||Général de|
|Navy||Enseigne de vaisseau|
de 2nde classe
|Enseigne de Vaisseau|
de 1re classe
|Capitaine de Corvette||Capitaine de Frégate||Capitaine de Vaisseau||Capitaine de Vaisseau|
Chef de Division
|Contre-Amiral||Vice-Amiral d'Escadre||Amiral||Amiral de la Flotte|
|Air Force||Sous-lieutenant||Lieutenant||Capitaine||Commandant||Lieutenant-colonel||Colonel||Général de|
|Général de corps|
|USA||Army||2nd Lieutenant||1st Lieutenant||Captain||Major||Lieutenant Colonel||Colonel||Brigadier General||Major General||Lieutenant General||General||General of the Army|
|Navy||Ensign||Lieutenant JG||Lieutenant||Lieutenant Commander||Commander||Captain||Commodore||Rear Admiral||Vice Admiral||Admiral||Fleet Admiral|
|Senior Lieutenant||Captain||Major||Podpolkovnik||Polkovnik|| ||General-Major||General-Lieutenant||General-Colonel||General of the Army |
|Senior Lieutenant||Captain-Lieutenant||Captain 3rd rank||Captain 2nd rank||Captain 1st rank|| ||Counter-Admiral||Vice-Admiral||Admiral||Admiral of the Fleet|
|Navy||Leutnant zur See||Oberleutnant zur See||Kapitänleutnant||Korvettenkapitän||Fregattenkapitän||Konteradmiral||Kommodore||Vizeadmiral||Admiral||Generaladmiral||Grossadmiral|
|Maggiore||Tenente Colonnello||Colonnello||Generale di Brigata||Generale di Divisione||Generale di |
|Generale d'Armata||Maresciallo d'Italia|
|Navy||Guardiamarina||Sottotenente di Vascello||Tenente di Vascello||Capitano di Corvetta||Capitano di Fregata||Capitano di Vascello||Contrammiraglio||Ammiraglio di Divisione||Ammiraglio di Squadra||Ammiraglio di Armata||Grand'Ammiraglio|
|Maggiore||Tenente Colonnello||Colonnello||Generale di|
|Generale di |
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.