|Imperial Japanese Military|
| Imperial Japanese Army |
(Dai Nippon Teikoku Rikugun)
| Imperial Japanese Navy |
(Dai Nippon Teikoku Kaigun)
The following graphs present the rank insignia of the Imperial Japanese Navy from its establishment in 1868 to its defeat during World War II in 1945 (with some changes in April and November 1942). These designs were used from 1931 onward. For the typical Navy, star modelling cherry blossom was used for showing their ranks/branches, but the Naval Reserve personnel wore the compass based star before 1942, when the Reserve and Special Duty Officers were merged with the typical naval personnel's insignia.
All commissioned officer rank names were the same as their army counterparts. The navy would prefix the common rank names with 海軍 (Kaigun), while the army would prefix them with 陸軍 (Rikugun), meaning "Navy" and "Army", respectively. There was a minor difference in pronunciation of character 大 for Navy Lieutenant and Navy Captain. The navy pronounced it as Dai, while the army pronounced it as Tai. However, this pronunciation difference was not officially enacted.
Regular Officers (将校 Shōkō) were graduates of Imperial Japanese Naval Academy. Reserve Officers (予備将校 Yobi-shōkō) were university or college graduates, as opposed to going through the naval academy. Special Duty Officers (特務士官 Tokumu-shikan) were the officers with the rank of Lieutenant or below, who were promoted from the rank of Warrant Officer (starting from the enlisted ranks).Typically the ranks discriminated in a way that the priority of taking command for Special Duty Officers was lower than that of Regular Officers or Reserve Officers. The distinction between Special Duty Officers and Regular/Reserve Officers was also highlighted in the rank insignia (see the table for details). This difference in the rank insignia was abolished in 1942, but the system itself remained.
The rank Commodore was not established but the Captain who was commanding the central ship in the fleet, usually close to being promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral, or acting as the unit commander (which was usually held by a Rear-Admiral) nominally became a flag officer by raising the "Commodore Flag".
See the table below for details regarding the officer ranks and insignia:
|N/A|| 大元帥海軍大将 |
| Lord high admiral of the Japanese Empire or Admiralissimo |
(the title used only for Emperor of Japan)
| 元帥海軍大将 |
| Fleet/Marshal/Grand Admiral |
(the title used for some Admirals with achievements)
| Captain |
(some Captains held the "position" of Commodore)
| Sub-lieutenant |
(Lieutenant junior grade)
| Acting Sub-lieutenant |
|Rank||Admiral||Vice admiral||Rear admiral|
Midshipman and Warrant Officer's collar insignia is same (both were treated as officer-equivalent), but in detail, midshipman's position is above Warrant Officer. Furthermore, midshipman rank was not via commissioned, but it was via ordered or warranted. Cadet is much likely to be classified as a slightly higher than non-commissioned officer, since the cap's line is only one, compared to the commissioned officer's cap which has two lines and the type 3 uniform is based on the enlisted personnel.
See the table below for details regarding the cadet/WO ranks and insignia:
|Apprentice (specialist branch) |
e.g., Apprentice surgeon (Medical branch)
For seamen and petty officers, which were selected from enlisted men or conscripts and given training in the Navy's service/technical school, the names were different from the army names but were equal in rank. Different service branches within the navy had their specialisation augment the common rank name. For example, Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAF) had "Flight" (飛行 Hikō)incorporated into the common rank name, such as Flight Petty Officer First Class (一等飛行兵曹 Ittō-hikō-heisō) or Flight Seaman Second Class (二等飛行兵 Nitō-hikō-hei). For practical use, these rank names were often shortened to 一飛曹 (Ippisō) or 二飛 (Nihi), respectively. The enlisted rank insignia were changed in April 1942 and the common rank names were updated in November 1942.
The enlisted insignia prior to changes in 1942 was a round patch that contained one anchor for the lowest grade, two crossed anchors for the middle grade and two crossed anchors with a cherry blossom for the highest grade. The petty officer insignia followed the same pattern but additionally had wreaths. The insignia was red on black background for winter dark-blue uniforms (also for flight suits), black on white background for summer white uniforms, and red on green background for Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF) uniforms. The anchor would be replaced by different symbols for specialised branches; for example, aviation had an aircraft instead.After the changes in 1942, the insignia was a black patch that was square-shaped on the top and arrow-shaped on the bottom. Inside the patch, all branches had a yellow anchor and one yellow horizontal stripe for the lowest grade, two for the middle grade and three for the highest grade. Similarly as before, the petty officer insignia followed the same pattern but additionally had wreaths. For all ranks there was also a cherry blossom in the middle, which changed its colour based on the branch; for example, light blue represented aviation.
See the table below for details regarding the enlisted/NCO ranks and insignia:
|Pre 1942||Post 1942|
|Petty officers 下士官 (Kashikan)|
|Petty officer first class||上等兵曹|
|Chief petty officer|
|Petty officer second class||一等兵曹|
|Petty officer first class|
|Petty officer third class||二等兵曹|
|Petty officer second class|
|Enlisted/Seamen 水兵 (Suihei)|
|Seaman first class||水兵長|
|Seaman second class||上等水兵|
| Able seaman |
|Seaman third class||一等水兵|
(seaman first class)
| Ordinary seaman |
(seaman fourth class)
(seaman second class)
The branch of the Navy in which non-executive personnel served was indicated by a colour code. For officers, including midshipmen, it was the colour of cloth placed as background to the cuff stripes, on both sides of the gold lace on the shoulder boards, and as longitudinal piping on the collar patches. Midshipmen and cadets wore a coloured anchor on the cap, which cadets wore on the shoulder boards as well.The branch of enlisted men was denoted by the colour of the cherry blossom flower on their rank patch; line personnel using the default gold.
|Brown||Ship and engine construction|
|Red||Medical (surgeon, dentist and pharmacist) and Hospital(Corps)man (combat medic)|
|Light blue||Aviation (Warrant and Special Duty Officer ) and Hydrography|
|Grey-blue||Band master (Warrant and Special Duty Officer)|
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