Ranks in Wing Commander III

After learning the rank system for the Wing Commander movie, we decided to take a look back at the full motion video games. We were surprised to find that what we thought we knew wasn't accurate: as it turns out, the ranks used in Wing Commander III are different from those seen in the later games! The ranks in WC3 are harder to track because of the lower quality video, but a careful review can determine them for every character.

Wing Commander III is unique in that it included a comprehensive rank chart in the Victory Streak manual. But very few of the ranks included on the chart appear in the game. According to records from the set, six types of pins were purchased for the production and they were used to represent eight different ranks. Two services are represented, the Terran Confederation Navy (capital ship crewmen such as Tolwyn, Eisen and Rollins) and the Terran Confederation Space Force (Blair and his wingmen.) Navy ranks are inspired by the United States Navy, while Space Force ranks are based on those used by the Air Force. Both services uses the same insignias, with Navy ranks in silver and Space Force ranks in gold. Let's take a look…

Space Force

Second Lieutenant (O-1): The Space Force Second Lieutenant insignia is a rectangle followed by a square. Vagabond and Vaquero are both dressed as Second Lieutenants.

First Lieutenant (O-2): The Space Force First Lieutenant insignia is the reverse of the Second Lieutenant pin: a square followed by a rectangle. Flint is a First Lieutenant.

Captain (O-5): This rank does not appear on-screen.

Major (O-4): The Space Force Major insignia is two vertical squares. Maniac and Flash are both Majors, and Cobra incorrectly wears a Major's insignia (she is referred to as Lieutenant in both the manual and the game's cutscenes.)

Lieutenant Colonel (O-5): The Space Force Lieutenant Colonel is two wide, horizontal rectangles, with the smaller of the two at the bottom. Hobbes is the only Lieutenant Colonel seen in Wing Commander III.

Colonel (O-6): The Space Force Colonel insignia is the reverse of the Lieutenant Colonel badge. Blair and Angel both wear Colonel's insignias.

Brigadier General (O-7), Lieutenant General (O-8), Major General (O-9): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

General (O-10?): The Space Force General insignia is a gold square surrounded by smaller rectangles on every side. Paladin wears this insignia in Wing Commander III. Like the movie, the game does not seem to distinguish between flag ranks. According to the novelization, Taggart should be a Brigadier General (O-7.)

Navy

Ensign, Second Class (O-1) & Ensign (O-2): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

Second Lieutenant (O-3) or First Lieutenant (O-3): This unidentified Navy Lieutenant insignia is identical to the Space Forces Second Lieutenant pin, although it represents a different grade (O-3 rather than O-1.) Radio Rollins is a Navy Lieutenant. The version not represented is not visible in the game.

Lieutenant Commander (O-4) & Commander (O-5): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

Captain (O-6): The Navy Captain (equivalent in standing to Colonel Blair) is a solid silver rectangle. Captain Eisen wears this insignia.

Commodore (O-7), Rear Admiral (O-8) & Vice Admiral (O-9): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

Admiral (O-10): The Navy Admiral insignia is a silver version of the Space Force General rank. Tolwyn ears this insignia in Wing Commander III. It's not entirely clear what his specific flag rank should be; he is generally referred to as Admiral (O-10) in Wing Commander III-related material, though he is said to be wearing a Rear Admiral (O-8)'s uniform in the later Wing Commander IV novelization.

Space Marshal (O-11): This rank does not appear on-screen.

So what does THIS knowledge let you know? That Chris Roberts was also a Second Lieutenant in the Space Forces in Wing Commander III!


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Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans. Recent updates:


GOG Winter Sale In Full Swing
2017-12-16 -- It's time for another GOG sale, and that means another opportunity to complete your Wing Commander collection for 70% off or to gift the entire series to someone for just $14. If you never happened to pick up that digital copy of Armada or Privateer 2, now you can for just $1.79.

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2017-12-12 -- It's been 20 years since Wing Commander Prophecy arrived in stores! Longtime fans may remember some of the original games being released in the early to mid '90s, but Wing Commander Prophecy represented the first game to come out after the initial internet boom. Yes, it was possible to find WC4 information online in late 1995, but a huge influx of fans throughout 1996 and 1997 completely changed the landscape of this internet community.

Hats Off To New FMV Record Holder
2017-12-11 -- Games that feature full motion video have undergone a bit of a renaissance over the past two years with a handful of innovative adventures hitting the market since 2015's Her Story. Two decades of dormancy, however, let Wing Commander reign as king of the genre in a number of ways. Now, one game has passed Wing Commander 4 for quantity of FMV, and The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker has the Guiness World Record to prove it!

WC1 Live Viewer Now Displays Medal Points
2017-12-10 -- UnnammedCharacter has released an update to his WC1 Live Viewer program. The previous iteration of the app displayed game state statistics on flying objects throughout the battle space in your Wing Commander 1 game. It's not an editor, but rather, it can be paired with things like the WC Toolbox to help understand what's going on behind the scenes.

Check Out Rebel Galaxy's Delightful Blueprint
2017-12-09 -- The creators of Rebel Galaxy, already well known for their incredible Privateer April Fools commercial earlier this year, have made another awesome Wing Commander tribute. They've created a fighter diagram for the game's Coyote fighter that's a perfect match to the style of WC1's blueprints. Sure looks like Howie is having fun!

Backers' Wing Commander Album Scores Released
2017-12-08 -- Wing Commander fans who pledged for the second Wing Commander album at the $80 level and above now have a treat waiting for them. The PDF digital scores for the seventeen expected orchestral tracks have been released. Contributors can now log in to their Kickstarter Message Inbox for a special note from George Oldziey with a download link and access password.

Homeworld Mod Now Spoofs Missiles
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Hornet Zooms Towards The Action
2017-12-06 -- NinjaLA is back with a nifty sketch that shows off his "gradient mask coloring" technique. There are two images this time so you can see how things begin as a simple pencil sketch... and progress into a very sleek Hornet!

Nephilim Added To Star Trek Armada 2 Mod
2017-12-05 -- The Wing Commander mod for Star Trek Armada 2 has added a major new faction to the game. A full lineup of Nephilim capships and fighters have filled out the ranks and is set to invade the spacelanes. Each individual starship is beautiful, but check out the battle scenes.

Recording Session Set For WC Bar Music!
2017-12-04 -- There's a pretty sizable update on the progress of George Oldziey's second Wing Commander album today. A date has been set now for early February to do the live recording of the WC bar music. It'll be performed in George's personal studio in Austin.

The Voices Of War Speak Many Languages
2017-12-03 -- Christian Klein, the Pixel Engineer, has dug up a really cool version of Wing Commander Armada. This one's made for the Japanese PC-98 computer. There's so much to love on every inch of the box here, but my favorite might be the dark red disks with Japanese text.

We're Number 239!
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Wing Commander Teaches 3D
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Homeworld Mod Improves Skipper Missile Execution
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New WC Toolbox Release Adds WC2 & Academy Support
2017-11-29 -- UnnamedCharacter is back with an awesome upgrade to his WC Toolbox application. The program allows aspiring modders unprecedented ease of access to play around with and tweak some of the core elements of the original Wing Commander games. Previous versions have allowed for ship editing, revision of the in-game text, new copy protection questions and more!

Avoid The Node
2017-11-28 -- Dark Sentinel still has some of the fearsome capships like the Hydra under construction in his shipyards, but he's let loose a smaller pair of ships this week. This time we get to see the Ray node and its smaller Remora counterparts. When Prophecy was released twenty years ago, this ship was a real oddball.

Cyber Monday Discounts Abound For WC Fans
2017-11-27 -- If you're still searching for the perfect present after Black Friday, Cyber Monday gives you a great opportunity to give the gift of Wing Commander. GOG currently has the Wing Commander series for 75% off, which brings it down to just $11.92 for all DOS/Windows games (you may need to add them to your cart individually).

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