Hafner, Anton, born on 02-06-1918 in Erbach near Ulm located in the Württemberg region, the son of a Meister, a master craftsman, in the field of tinsmith. After completing his training as a pilot in 1940 he joined the Ergänzungstaffel JG 51 (reserve flight). On 23-02-1941, Gefreiter Hafner joined 6./JG “Mölders” 51. under commad of Oberstleutnant Werner Mölders On 29 March he crash-landed at Mardyck. Hafner was wounded and his Bf 109 E was 80% damaged. Hafner recorded his first victory operating over the Eastern Front on the 24-06-1941, and by the end of the month he had added another victory to his account. He had recorded 14 victories by the end of 1941. His 25th victory was obtained on 21-03-1942. On 5 July, he claimed seven Russian aircraft’s shot down to record his 35th through 41st victories. On 23-07-1942, Feldwebel Hafner shot down his 50th enemy aircraft and, on 22 August, he destroyed his 60th and received the Ritterkreuz on 23 August. Hafner was then granted leave. Hafner returned to combat duty in November 1942, by which time II./JG51, under Major, Hartmann Graser had transferred to Tunisia. Graser died age 71, on 02-06-1986, in Cologne. On 18-12-1942 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 Air force to fulfill his brother’s will. Hafner, flying with 4./Jagdgeschwader 51, succeeded in destroying a RAF Spitfire fighter as his 63rd victory and his first in the Mediterranean theater on 16 November. On 02-01-1943, II./JG 51 engaged a formation of Hurricane and Spitfire fighters. In the subsequent combat, Hafner was hit probably by British ace, Robert Wardlox “Bobby” Oxspring of 72 Squadron, RAF , nickname “Basutoland”. Oxspring died age 70, on 08-08-1989 in Cranwell. Hafner was forced to bail out of his Bf 109 G-2 (W.Nr. 13 985) but hit the rudder of his plane and suffered a splinter fracture of his hand. He spent six months in a German hospital as a result. He had 82 victories his credit at this time. In August 1943, Hafner returned to the Eastern Front with the Stabstaffel of JG 51, a unit equipped with the Focke-Wulf 190 A. On 15 October, he shot down three Russian aircraft (98-100). On 20 October, he shot down five enemy aircraft (102-106) and five more on 28-10-1943 (107-111). He shot down seven Russian aircrafts on 22-02-1944 (126-132), his 134th on 27 March and five on 24 June (140-144). Leutnant Hafner was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 452) on 11 April for 134 victories.
In August 1943, Hafner returned to the Eastern Front with the Stabstaffel of JG 51, a unit equipped with the Focke-Wulf 190 A. On 15 October, he shot down three Russian aircraft (98-100). On 20 October, he shot down five enemy aircraft (102-106) and five more on 28-10-1943 (107-111). He shot down seven Russian aircrafts on 22-02-1944 (126-132), his 134th on 27 March and five on 24 June (140-144). Leutnant Hafner was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 452) on 11-04-1944 for 134 victories. On 15 May, he took over 8./JG 51 from Hauptmann Fritz Stendel (49 victories, DK) equipped with the Bf 109 G-6. On 28 June, he succeeded in bringing down his 150th victory but, two days later, his Bf 109 G-6 was hit in the engine while still over the Front. After an emergency landing he was able to return to his unit and was soon back in action.
Death and burial ground of Hafner, Anton “Toni”.
On 15-08-1944, 8./JG 51 was renamed 10./JG 51. He shot down seven Russian Il-2 Sturmoviks on 8 August (162-168). On 21 August, Hafner claimed Il-2 Sturmovik as his 175th victory. On 16 October, Hafner destroyed four fighters (199-202) thus taking him past the 200-victory mark. Hafner shot down a Russian Yak-7 fighter as his 204th victory on 17-10-1944. However, during the dogfight his plane hit a tree. His Bf 109G-6 “Black 1” crashed killing Hafner, the highest scoring pilot of JG 51 “Mölders”. (49 victories, DK) equipped with the Bf 109 G-6.”. The Bf 109G-6 W.Nr. 442 013 “Black 1” of 10./JG 51 in which Toni Hafner died. Toni Hafner is buried at Gusev, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia