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EUROPE - MILITARY BRANCH & RANK INSIGNIA

More on Imperial Russian Epaulettes and Pogoni

Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines

Moderators: Miklós Lovász, Dorward_Bis, Medic_in_Uniform, kaldi, Chuck Anderson, Pavel Močoch, Erskine Calderon, Lukasz Gaszewski, ChrisWI, Zdzislaw Rudzki, Peter

More on Imperial Russian Epaulettes and Pogoni

Unread postby Lukasz Gaszewski » Tue Nov 12, 2002 6:02 pm

I would like to add some general information on the history of the epaulettes and disticntive shoulder boards (pogoni) in Czarist Russia.

Epaulettes were introduced in the Russian army and navy in 1807 and they survived only with some minor alterations until the February revolution of 1917. They were bigger and more elaborate than those in other European countries. Epaulettes of general officers had broad cords (bullions) instead of normal fringes, those of staff officers (majors, ltcs and colonels) had narrower fringes. Junior officers (called "higher officers" or "oberofitsery" in Russian terminology), ie. lieutenants, staff-captains and captains, wore so called "counter-epaulettes", that is epaulettes without any fringes. From 1827 the rank was indicated by the combination of small five pointed stars, with the peculiarity that the highest rank in each officer group (captains, colonels and full generals) did not wear stars at all. Regiments and services were denoted by background colors, company numbers by a numeral sewn onto the epaulette. Generals' epaulettes were made of gold fabric, epaulettes for officers of the imperial suite were silver. Officers of the guards and aides-de-camps wore a metal imperial cipher on their epaulettes.

It can be noted that in the same 1827 epaulettes, very similar to the Russian ones, were introduced in the army of the Kingdom of Poland, united after 1815 with the Russian Empire. They replaced the ones, more French in style, used before. Unlike the original, Russian ones, Polish epaulettes were always silver instead of gold. Epaulettes of the infantry and services were smooth, while in the cavalry they had scale-like carving. They survived until 1831, when the autonomy of the Kingdom of Poland was abolished and her army disbanded after an unsuccessful national rising of 1830.

Broad officer shoulder boards (pogoni) were authorized in the Russian army and navy in 1854, during the crimean war. They were meant to replace the inconvenient epaulettes on field uniforms, and proved so useful that they began to be worn on other types of uniform as well. They were made of gold or silver band with a single color pin stripe for the ranks from warrant officer to captain, a double stripe for ltcs and colonels (the rank of major was discontinued in 1884) and with a broad zigzag for general officers. The combination of stars and imperial ciphers closely followed that of the corresponding epaulettes. It should be noted however that unlike the pogoni of the Soviet period, the size of the stars on the imperial pogoni was identical for all ranks.

Following the February revolution of 1917, the pogoni, a symbol of the imperial power, were abolished by the Russian Provisional Government. Hated by the Bolsheviks too, they weren't reestablished in the Red Army until January 1943, and they are still used in the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Note also that yet in the imperial period they became a model for similar shoulder boards in Bulgaria and Serbia. In the post-WWII years the rule of the pogoni extended over Albania, China, Korea, Mongolia, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary (for a brief preiod) and even Cuba.

There is an excellent website (in Russian, alas) on Russian (and non-Russian) hussar regiments, which gives an abundant description on the history of both epaulettes and pogoni:

http://www.kulichki.com:8105/gusary/kruzhki/istoriya/uniform/znaki.html
http://www.kulichki.com:8105/gusary/kruzhki/istoriya/uniform/index.html
http://www.kulichki.com:8105/gusary/kruzhki/istoriya/otkrytki/vypusk4.html

:)
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Re: Imperial pogoni

Unread postby Zdzislaw Rudzki » Tue Nov 12, 2002 7:30 pm

Great, informative post.

I have one question. In the book about Russian Imperial Navy there are illustrations of admiral ranks where instead of five pointed stars were black eagles. On the same picture both the epaluettes with stars and with eagles are shown. Description states that those with stars are "generals" while those with eagles were "admirals" however both in the Navy. What is the difference between those ranks then?

P.S. The links to the hussar website is nice however it is very strange to read text in Russian written with latin letters.
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Admirals and Generals

Unread postby Lukasz Gaszewski » Tue Nov 12, 2002 9:37 pm

Right! There were both admirals and generals in the Imperial Navy. Admirals occupied posts in the line (sea) service, while generals served in engineering corps, coastal artillery and other services. Instead of the stars, admirals wore 1 up to 3 black eagles on their pogoni or epaulettes; if they wore also the imperial cipher, it was superimposed straight on the eagles. Nota bene, unlike most other navies, the Czarist Navy did not develop any system of cuff insignia! These were introduced only by the Provisional Government in 1917 (replacing the pogoni), but soon swept away by the winds of the October revolution.

P.S. Try this: http://www.kulichki.com/gusary/kruzhki/istoriya/uniform/index.html
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Equipage of the Guard

Unread postby sketor7558 » Tue Nov 12, 2002 10:04 pm

In the Equipage of the Guard (Marines) Admirals used the Eagles were used in Red Edged Shoulderboards too and "Admiral" ranks not "General" ranks .
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Unread postby Lukasz Gaszewski » Tue Nov 12, 2002 10:49 pm

Thats's right. The name of the guards was given to some selected units (in the army as well as in the navy) as the form of distinction (the rank in the guard stood higher in military hierarchy than the corresponding one in a non-guard unit), and it is questionable if we can see the Equipage of the Guard as a separate service, just like Marines today. Anyway, admirals (!) of the Guards wore eagles, not stars. Red background on Guards' epaulettes was authorized in 1810. Additionally, officers and NCOs of the Guards wore distinctive double gold stripes (Litzen) along the collar, which looked very much like those worn later by the Wehrmacht.
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Unread postby sketor7558 » Tue Nov 12, 2002 11:25 pm

I have a link for russian uniforms from 1910 that included Pogoni colours
http://www.xenophongi.org/rusarmy/shenk/shenklist.htm and the russian table of ranks http://www.100megsfree4.com/rusgeneral/table.htm
plus russian page of pogoni http://tewton.narod.ru/uniform/epolet.html and Epaulettes http://tewton.narod.ru/uniform/epolet.html
and the motherlink http://armor.kiev.ua/army/forma/
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Re: Imperial Russia

Unread postby Zdzislaw Rudzki » Tue Nov 12, 2002 11:33 pm

Hi
This are really great links if someone can read Russian (like me). Thanks sketor7558
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Unread postby sketor7558 » Tue Nov 12, 2002 11:41 pm

Your welcome ! :D and be sure to use my post on russian rank insignia on the forum. The pogoni without stars in the page they used it for merchandise anyway but still used the same system of stars as today russian armed forces and please tell Pavel to post some new russian rank insignia pleeeaaasssee!!!!!! :lol:
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Question to Sketor7558

Unread postby Lukasz Gaszewski » Thu Nov 14, 2002 8:01 pm

Dear Sketor,

Would you please supply us with some more detailed explanation on what exactly is wrong about the rank insignia of the Russian Federation on our website? One of the sources you've mentioned displays the current insignia for both RF officers and NCOs, and they are almost the same as ours:

http://armor.kiev.ua/army/forma/rkka_94-s.shtml
http://armor.kiev.ua/army/forma/rkka_94-og.shtml

Star combinations of officer pogoni repeat those of the Soviet Army rather than the Czarist Army, and all ranks do have stars anyway.

I remember once watching some RF generals and admirals on TV who wore pogoni with 4 stars (!) arranged in a single line. Was this the rank of General of the Army and Admiral of the Fleet?

If you have any other source material, please share it with us. Send it either to Pavel, Zdzislaw or me.

Best regards :D ,
Lukasz
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Unread postby sketor7558 » Thu Nov 14, 2002 11:20 pm

First of all the the 4 stars in a row are indeed "Army General" for Army and Air Force and Admiral of the Fleet. The 4-star ranks applies for the Army , Air Force and Navy ONLY! the rest of the security forces uses only 3-star ranks. Also there is an Admiral of the Fleet of the Russian Federation rank which as the russian eagle with an Huge Admiral's Star and the sleeve insignia is 4 stripes above 1 huge stripe with a star with laurels around it. Look at the sites http://www.tridentmilitary.com/RUSSIAN. ... oards.html and http://www.tridentmilitary.com/RUSSIAN. ... forms.html
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Unread postby Lukasz Gaszewski » Fri Nov 15, 2002 8:55 am

Thanx. The pages on Russian insignia will have to be corrected. I believe the new pattern of Army General boards must have been introduced somewhere between 1994 and 2000. I remember seeing some Russian 4 star generals and admirals on TV in 2000, after the sinking of the "Kursk" submarine. On tridentmilitary you can meet both types of boards. Don't you know when exactly the rank of Admiral of the Fleet of the Russian Federation was authorized? Trident does not mention it at all.

Best regards,
Lukasz

PS: I wonder if there are still only two warrant officer ranks in RF army/navy. I think I have seen a photo of a 1 star WO somewhere, but I can be wrong. Unfortunately they display only plain WO boards on trident, so you can't tell.
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Unread postby sketor7558 » Fri Nov 15, 2002 6:21 pm

If you have the most recent Jane's Fighting Ships they have rank insignia from the world's navies and coast guards. I saw the admiral of the fleet of the russian federation sleeve insignia there and that rank and marshal of the russian federation is honorary now since the minister of defence is a civilan not military now , these 2 ranks were introduced in 1994 for the minister of defence position to replace Marshal of the soviet union and Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union (also Minister of Defence positions of the USSR and other large army and navy units) . And the 1 star warrant officer isnt used anymore it was disbanded in the mid 80's
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Unread postby ChrisWI » Sat Nov 16, 2002 12:22 am

The most recent book edition of Janes Fighting Ships?
Could you kindly provide the ISBN od the book?

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Unread postby sketor7558 » Sat Nov 16, 2002 12:33 am

Its ISBN: 0 7106 2432 8
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Unread postby ChrisWI » Sat Nov 16, 2002 10:55 pm

geez, you have the book - its $600? My parents would never get me a $600 book, although I got $100 worth of Osprey military books for my birthday.


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Unread postby sketor7558 » Sat Nov 16, 2002 11:38 pm

No I dont have the book, But they have the book at my area's main library but its a reference book. :(
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