Japanese Officer ranks are the same for IJA and IJN. The point of difference is in the translation. If we speak of British terms then the translation is somewhat different than American terms. American terms are used for the following:
It becomes a problem to compare the enlisted ranks with American enlisted ranks (rates). There were also changes in the Japanese Naval enlisted ranks (rates) after select dates which add to the problems.
IJA Enlisted RANKS (with approximate equivalents)
Juni***= Warrant Officer
Socho**= Sergeant Major
Heicho*= Lance Corporal (leading Private)
Jotohei= Superior Private
Ittohei= Private First Class
AFTER November 1942, three changes:
the (Hiko) Heisocho = (Flight) Warrant Officer was placed above the CPO; and an (Hiko) Heicho = Assistant (Flight) Petty Officer and a Joto (Hiko) Hei = Chief Flyer REPLACED the Santo (Hiko) Heiso
The additional term "Koku" 航空 or "Hiko" 飛行 determines the aeronautical nature of the aviator job. This is "understood" in aeronautical texts and thus left out of many books.
Japanese Naval ratings are similar to US Navy ratings. A Japanese Seaman First Class, for example, has crossed anchors on his rating/rank badge, the Japanese Airman First Class has crossed aircraft, the Japanese Mechanic First Class has crossed wrenches, etc.
The range of NAVAL aviators IN COMBAT is (usually) "Flyer 1c" and above. Those lower ranks of "Flyer 2c", "Flyer 3c" are in training schools. Again usually, the top NAVAL flying officer "Hikotaicho"(on a CV) / “司令”（shirei ）in a "Kokutai" (land unit) is "Lt Commander"; with the "Commander" slot going to a non-flying officer (most times of aviation experience) as "Hikocho". As the war progressed, several "Hikocho" positioned men were placed in combat flight "slots" as "Hikotaicho" or "shirei".
Of interest, the ground crews for the aircraft had the same rank system except for the word "Hiko"/"Koku" was replaced by "Seibi". The Itto (Seibi) Heiso also had crossed aircraft rank badge...but the crossed aircraft were "in profile", rather than like the Itto (Hiko) Heiso, which had top views of the crossed aircraft. The Seibi is on the right sleeve on the man on the left, the Hiko version on the other man.
Select errors creep into certain non-Japanese texts including "Sailor First Class" or "NAP 4th Class"...sailors swabbed decks and the incorrect "Naval Aviation Pilot" term seems to include non-pilots, and the NAP4c in these texts really refers to "Itto (Hiko) Hei" [Flyer First Class].
The US Navy had BOTH the Commissioned Warrant Officer (just below "Ensign") and the ENLISTED rate (rank) of Chief Petty Officer. Selection of WHICH US Navy term is used for the highest ENLISTED rate 航空兵曹長. "Heiso" 兵曹 is also used in the lower ENLISTED ranks of:
Itto (Hiko/Koku) Heiso...and even lower ranks. Thus 飛行兵曹長 is equal to the enlisted Chief Petty Officer, rather than the higher term "Warrant Officer".
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