25 March 1915|
|Died||10 July 1984
|Service/branch|| Reichsheer (1933–35)
|Years of service||1933–45|
|Unit||JG 333, JG 77, JG 11, JG 76, JG 26, JG 300|
|Commands held||II./JG 26, JG 76, JG 11|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords|
Anton "Toni" Hackl (25 March 1915 – 10 July 1984) was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a fighter ace credited with 192 enemy aircraft shot down in over 1,000 combat missions. The majority of his victories were claimed over the Eastern Front, with 87 claims over the Western Front. Of his 87 victories over the Western Allies, at least 32 were four-engined bombers, further 24 victories were unconfirmed.
Born in Regensburg, Hackl volunteered for military service in the Reichsheer in 1933. He transferred to the Luftwaffe (Air Force) in 1935 and following flight training, Hackl was posted to Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing) in April 1938. Following the outbreak of World War II, he flew his first combat missions during the winter 1939/40, a period dubbed the Phoney War. Hackl claimed four victories during the Norwegian Campaign and then flew missions on the Channel Front in aftermath of the Battle of Britain.
Hackle then fought in the aerial battles of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. On 29 July 1941, Hackl was appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of the 5. Staffel (5th squadron) of JG 77. He claimed 23 further aerial victories by the end of 1941, and following his 51st victory was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 25 May 1942. He claimed his 100th victory on 3 August, and on 6 August, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords following his 106th aerial victory. On 19 September 1942, Hackl claimed his 118th and last victory on the Eastern Front, and was then transferred to the North Africa, fighting in the Tunisia Campaign. Hackl claimed six aerial victories over North Africa before he was severely wounded on 4 February 1943. After a period of convalescence, Hackly was posted to III. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG 11—11th Fighter Wing), fighting in Defense of the Reich. Appointed Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of the III. Gruppe on 1 October 1943, Hackl was wounded in action again on 15 April 1944, at the time his total was 142 aerial victories. Back in action, following his 162nd victory, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 13 July 1944.
Early life and career
Hackl was born on 25 March 1915 in Regensburg, Upper Palatinate of the Kingdom of Bavaria, as part of the German Empire. He was the son of a master joiner. He joined the Reichswehr (Army of the Weimar Republic) in 1933, initially serving with 20. (Bayerisches) Infanterie-Regiment (20th Bavarian Infantry Regiment), subordinated to the 7. Division (7th Division).
In 1936, Hackl transferred to the newly formed Luftwaffe, initially serving as a driver. In 1937, holding the rank Obergefreiter (senior lance-corporal), Hackl was sent to Halberstadt where he received flight training. There, he received his pilot license and was trained in aerobatics. He was promoted to Unteroffizier (staff sergeant) in 1937, received fighter pilot training, and in April 1938 was posted to the II. Gruppe (2nd group) of Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing),[Note 1] at the time under the command of Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) Carl-Alfred Schumacher. In early 1938, II. Gruppe of JG 77 was known as Küstenjagdgruppe I./136 (Coastal Fighter Group). In October 1938, I./136 was renamed to II. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 333 (JG 333—333rd Fighter Wing). On 1 May 1939, the Gruppe was again renamed, and from then on, was referred to as II. Gruppe of JG 77.
World War II
World War II in Europe began on Friday, 1 September 1939, when German forces invaded Poland. On the invasion day, Hackl was promoted to Feldwebel (staff sergeant) and did not participate in the Polish campaign. At the time, he attended an officers training course. Following officer training, Hackl was promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant), effective as of 1 August 1940, bypassing the rank of Leutnant (second lieutenant). In the winter 1939/40, Hackl was back with II. Gruppe, flying combat air patrol missions along Germany's western boarder during the period dubbed the Phoney War. For this, he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class (Eisernes Kreuz zweiter Klasse) on 6 March 1940.[Note 2]
By May 1940, Hackl was based in Norway, with JG 77 when he claimed his first aerial victory on 15 June 1940. That day, 5. Staffel flew from Stavanger-Sola and encountered a flight of Lockheed Hudson light bombers from the Royal Air Force (RAF) No. 233 Squadron. In the resulting aerial combat, Hackl claimed two Hudsons shot down, the first at 9:00 and the second at 9:02. The battleship Scharnhorst had been damaged in combat on 8 June 1940. Following preliminary repairs at Trondheim, Scharnhorst began its return voyage to Germany on 20 June. II. Gruppe of JG 77 had been tasked to provide fighter coverage for Scharnhorst. On 21 June, Scharnhorst came under two air attacks by six Swordfish torpedo bombers and nine Beaufort bombers. In this encounter, Hackl was credited with his third aerial victory, claiming a Beaufort shot down between 16:00 and 18:00. At 9:40 on 25 June, he shot down a No. 269 Squadron Hudson for his fourth aerial victory, but was also slightly wounded by the defensive fire. His opponent was Hudson (N7330) "C" of No. 269 Squadron piloted by Pilot Officer P.N. Trolove. His four aerial victories in Norway earned Hackl the Iron Cross First Class (Eisernes Kreuz erster Klasse) on 2 July 1940.[Note 3]
War against the Soviet Union
In July 1941 he was posted with JG 77 to the Eastern Front, supporting Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) Gerd von Rundstedt's Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South), with the objective of capturing the Ukraine and its capital Kiev. On 29 July 1941, Hackl was appointed Staffelkapitän of 5. Staffel, replacing Hauptmann Erich Friedrich. Hackl claimed his first victory on the Eastern Front, and fifth overall, on 1 August 1941. Operating from an airfield at Kishinev, II. Gruppe flew missions in the vicinity of Grigoriopol, on the eastern bank of the river Dniester. That day, Hackl flew a escort fighter mission for Kampfgeschwader 27 (KG 27—27th Bomber Wing), claiming a Polikarpov I-16 fighter aircraft shot down.
By the end of year his score was 27. Hackl became an "ace-in-a-day" for the first time on 19 April 1942, claiming two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3, two Polikarpov R-Z and one I-18 shot down over the Isthmus of Perekop. His score increased further, and by May 1942, after 51 victories he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). During the month of July 1942, Hackl amassed 37 enemy aircraft shot down in the aerial battles around Voronezh, including 6 victories in a day on both 21 July and 23 July. In August 1942, he shot down three which included his 100th victory on 3 August. He was the 16th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. After his 106th victory on 6 August he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). He shot down his 118th enemy aircraft on the Eastern Front, (a Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3), in September 1942.
II./JG 77 were then transferred to Tunisia where Hackl claimed 6 victories. On 20 December 1942, Hackl claimed his first victories-his 119th and 120th in total-over North Africa. That day, 5. Staffel encountered a flight of Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk ground-attack aircraft. In the encounter, 5. Staffel claimed five aerial victories, two by Hackl. In combat with P-38 Lightnings on 4 February 1943 he was badly wounded and was hospitalised for several months. Returning to duties in September 1943, Hackl next operated with III./Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG 11—11th Fighter Wing) on Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties. On 1 October, he became Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) III./JG 11. Hackl went on to claim 25 four-engined bombers shot down during his time with the III. Gruppe. In April 1944, he commanded JG 11 briefly before being badly wounded in battle with a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) P-47 Thunderbolt. He was promoted to Major (major) on 1 May 1944. Hackl received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern) on 12 July. During July 1944 he became Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of Jagdgeschwader 76 (JG 76—76th Fighter Wing).
On 8 October he became Gruppenkommandeur of II./Jagdgeschwader 26 "Schlageter" (JG 26—26th Fighter Wing) with 165 victories to his credit. By the end of the year he now had 172 victories. By late January 1945 he was acting Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 300 (JG 300—300th Fighter Wing) and, in late February, Geschwaderkommodore of JG 11. His last 24 victories were never officially confirmed.
Anton Hackl flew about 1,000 combat missions and was officially credited with shooting down 192 enemy aircraft plus another 24 unconfirmed aerial victories. 105 victories were claimed while serving on the Eastern Front, six victories have been claimed in Africa and 87 on the Western Front. Among these numbers are 34 four-engined bombers which puts him in second place behind Georg-Peter Eder as the leading daylight bomber claimant. 55 claims were made with JG 11, 10 with JG 26, 1 with JG 300, and 124 while flying with JG 77. He was shot down eight times and wounded four times. Anton Hackl died on 9 July 1984 in Regensburg.
- Wound Badge in Gold
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "1000"
- Combined Pilots-Observation Badge
- "Afrika" Cuff title
- Crimea Shield
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 25 May 1942 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 5./Jagdgeschwader 77
- 109th Oak Leaves 9 August 1942 as Hauptmann and Staffelkapitän of the 5./Jagdgeschwader 77[Note 4]
- 78th Swords on 9 July 1944 as Major and Gruppenkommandeur of the III./Jagdgeschwader 11[Note 5]
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Oberstleutnant Hermann Graf
|Acting Commander of Jagdgeschwader 11
April 1944 – April 1944
Major Herbert Ihlefeld
Major Jürgen Harder
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 11
8 May 1944 – 20 February 1945
|Commander of Jagdgeschwader 76
August 1944 – October 1944
Major Ernst Düllberg
Major Kurd Peters
|Acting Commander of Jagdgeschwader 300 Wilde Sau
30 January 1945 – 20 February 1945
Major Kurd Peters