2 June 1918|
Erbach an der Donau
17 October 1944
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 in Erbach an der Donau, killed in action 17 October 1944 on the Eastern Front) was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade the Oak Leaves was awarded 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, 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 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. However, during the dogfight his plane hit a tree. His Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 442 013—factory number) "Black 1" crashed killing Hafner, the highest scoring pilot of JG 51 "Mölders".
Anton 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./JG 51
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Weal 2001, p.92.
- Thomas 1998, p. 237.
- Obermaier 1989, p. 65.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 159.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 360.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann.
- 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.
- 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 Miltaer-Verlag.
- 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.
- Weal, John (2001). Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK:
- Petr Kacha. "Anton Hafner". Aces of the Luftwaffe. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- "Anton Hafner". Adlertag (in German). Retrieved 16 November 2012.