2 June 1918|
Erbach an der Donau
17 October 1944 26) (aged|
near Gumbinnen, East Prussia
|Years of service||1940–44|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Anton "Toni" Hafner (born 2 June 1918 − killed in action 17 October 1944 on the Eastern Front) was a German fighter ace in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
World War II
On 18 December 1942 Hafner was on a bomber intercept mission. While approaching the bomber formation they engaged the escorting P-38 Lightning fighter escort. In the ensuing dog fight Hafner flamed the left engine of a P-38. The pilot, Norman L. Widen of the 94th Fighter Squadron, bailed out and was taken prisoner of war and brought to Hafner's airfield. After Hafner landed, Widen presented Hafner his silver pilot insignia. Before Widen was taken to the POW camp, Hafner and Widen promised to meet again after the war. Hafner sent the gift to his brother, Alfons Hafner, with the request to return the gifts together with a medal and picture of Anton Hafner in case of Anton Hafner getting killed in action. In 1960 Alfons Hafner managed to contact Major Widen via the US Airforce to fulfil his brother's will. On 15 October 1943, Hafner was credited with his 100th aerial victory. He was the 56th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark.
On 16 October 1944, Hafner destroyed four fighters thus taking him past the double century mark. Hafner's 204th and last victory was a Soviet Yak-7 fighter on 17 October 1944. During the dogfight his Bf 109 G-6 hit a tree and crashed killing Hafner, the highest scoring pilot of JG 51 "Mölders.
Hafner was credited with 204 victories in 795 combat missions. He claimed 184 victories over the Eastern Front. Of his 20 victories claimed over the Western Front, eight were P-38 two engine fighters. Among his claims are 55 Il-2 Sturmoviks.
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (27 April 1942)
- German Cross in Gold on 22 May 1942 as Unteroffizier in the 6./Jagdgeschwader 51
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Axis History Forum
- and pictures of Widen captured; several later appeared in the German Propaganda English Language magazine Signal.]]
- Life Magazine April 14, 1961
- Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
- Weal 2001, p.92.
- Thomas 1998, p. 237.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 65.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 159.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 360.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 210.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 81.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1939 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
- Weal, John (2001). Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-084-1.