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)
- 2nd Class (6 July 1941)
- 1st Class (18 July 1941)
- 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
- Knight's Cross on 23 August 1942 as Feldwebel and pilot in the 6./Jagdgeschwader 51 "Mölders"
- 452nd Oak Leaves on 11 April 1944 as Leutnant (war officer) and pilot in the 6./Jagdgeschwader 51 "Mölders"
- ^ 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.