Anton Hackl

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Anton Hackl
Anton Hackl.jpg
Anton Hackl
Nickname(s) Toni
Born (1915-03-25)25 March 1915
Regensburg
Died 10 July 1984(1984-07-10) (aged 69)
Regensburg
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Reichsheer (1933–35)
Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe (1935–45)
Years of service 1933–45
Rank Major (major)
Unit JG 333, JG 77, JG 11, JG 76, JG 26, JG 300
Commands held II./JG 26, JG 76, JG 11
Battles/wars
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[edit]

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).[1]

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.[1][2] In early 1938, II. Gruppe of JG 77 was known as Küstenjagdgruppe I./136 (Coastal Fighter Group).[3] In October 1938, I./136 was renamed to II. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 333 (JG 333—333rd Fighter Wing).[4] On 1 May 1939, the Gruppe was again renamed, and from then on, was referred to as II. Gruppe of JG 77.[4]

World War II[edit]

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 border during the period dubbed the Phoney War.[1] For this, he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class (Eisernes Kreuz zweiter Klasse) on 6 March 1940.[5][Note 2]

Norwegian Campaign[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] His opponent was Hudson (N7330) "C" of No. 269 Squadron piloted by Pilot Officer P.N. Trolove.[9] His four aerial victories in Norway earned Hackl the Iron Cross First Class (Eisernes Kreuz erster Klasse) on 2 July 1940.[5][Note 3]

War against the Soviet Union[edit]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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 claimed 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 claimed 14 further victories which included his 100th claim on 3 August. He was the 16th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark.[13]

Following his 106th aerial victory, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) on 7 August 1942. He was the 109th member of the German armed forces to be so honored. Hackl and together with Oberfeldwebel Franz-Josef Beerenbrock were presented the Oak Leaves by Adolf Hitler at the Führerhauptquartier at Rastenburg.[1] He claimed his last victory on the Eastern Front on 5 September 1942. On 7 November, II. Gruppe received orders to immediately transfer to the Mediterranean theater.[14]

North Africa[edit]

The first elements of II. Gruppe arrived in North Africa on 5 December where it was based at Zazur airfield, approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Tripoli. Hackl's 5. Staffel arrived in North Africa on 13 December, initially based at Tripoli and then moved to Zazur on 18 December.[15] On 20 December 1942, Hackl claimed two victories 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.[1][16] In combat with P-38 Lightnings escorting a flight of 24 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress' on 4 February 1943, he was badly wounded resulting in a forced landing in his Bf 109 G-2 trop (Werknummer 10787—factory number) near Matmata.[17] His injuries to the head and right hand turned out to be severe. He was flown to Rome and was hospitalized for several months.[18] Command of 5. Staffel was passed on to Oberleutnant Franz Hrdlicka.[19]

Defense of the Reich[edit]

Returning to duties in September 1943, Hackl next operated with III. Gruppe of 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 III. Gruppe. In April 1944, he briefly acted as commander of JG 11, replacing Oberstleutnant Hermann Graf who had been wounded in combat on 29 March.[20]

On 15 April 1944, Hackl was shot down in his Focke-Wulf Fw 190A and wounded in combat with United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) P-47 Thunderbolts, grounding him for a period of convalescence.[21] During this period, he was promoted to Major (major) on 1 May 1944.[18] On 30 May 1944, he was replaced by Hauptmann Horst-Günther von Fassong as Gruppenkommandeur of III. Gruppe. Following additional training at the Verbandsführerschule of the General der Jagdflieger, a training school for unit leaders, Hackl was appointed Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of Jagdgeschwader 76 (JG 76—76th Fighter Wing).[22]

The authors Prien and Rodeike describe Hackl as a tough and ruthless unit commander. According to a Ultra deciphered message sent by Hackl to the General der Jagdflieger on 20 May, he had made recommendations on how to best utilize the young and inexperienced new fighter pilots in combat. His suggestions included attacking the bomber formations from the rear, driving the attack to point-blank range, and threatening the new pilots with court-martial if they did not follow these orders.[22] 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 for 162 aerial victories.[23]

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.[24] 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.

Summary of career[edit]

Aerial victory claims[edit]

Matthews and Foreman, authors of Luftwaffe Aces — Biographies and Victory Claims, researched the German Federal Archives and state that Hackl was credited with more than 180 aerial victories. This figure includes at least 103 claims made on the Eastern Front and 44 on the Western Front, including at least 16 four-engined bombers.[25]

Victory claims were logged to a map-reference (PQ = Planquadrat), for example "PQ 35 Ost 53224". The Luftwaffe grid map (Jägermeldenetz) covered all of Europe, western Russia and North Africa and was composed of rectangles measuring 15 minutes of latitude by 30 minutes of longitude, an area of about 360 square miles (930 km2). These sectors were then subdivided into 36 smaller units to give a location area 3 × 4 km in size.[26]

  This and the ♠ (Ace of spades) indicates those aerial victories which made Rudorffer an "ace-in-a-day", a term which designates a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more airplanes in a single day.
  This and the – (dash) indicates unconfirmed aerial victory claims for which Rudorffer did not receive credit.
  This and the ! (exclamation mark) indicates those aerial victories listed by Prien, Stemmer, Rodeike and Bock.
  This and the # (hash mark) indicates those aerial victories listed by Matthews and Foreman.
  This and the * (asterisk) indicates those aerial victories listed by Caldwell.
  This and the ? (question mark) indicates information discrepancies listed by Prien, Stemmer, Rodeike, Bock, Matthews and Foreman.

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For an explanation of Luftwaffe unit designations see Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II.
  2. ^ a b According to Stockert on 19 March 1940.[1]
  3. ^ a b According to Stockert on 6 August 1940.[1]
  4. ^ a b c d e According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as a Polikarpov R-5.[36]
  5. ^ According to Matthews and Foreman claimed as a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3.[53]
  6. ^ According to Scherzer on 7 August 1942.[77]
  7. ^ According to Scherzer on 12 July 1944.[77]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Stockert 2012, p. 28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Berger 1999, p. 99.
  3. ^ Prien 1992, pp. 26–27.
  4. ^ a b Prien 1992, p. 41.
  5. ^ a b c d Thomas 1997, p. 235.
  6. ^ Prien 1992, p. 234.
  7. ^ Prien 1992, pp. 234–236.
  8. ^ Prien 1992, p. 239.
  9. ^ Shores, Foreman & Ehrengardt 1992, p. 351.
  10. ^ Prien 1995, p. 2372.
  11. ^ Prien 1993, pp. 732–733.
  12. ^ Prien 1993, pp. 966–967.
  13. ^ Obermaier 1989, p. 243.
  14. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 289.
  15. ^ Prien et al. 2004, pp. 308–309.
  16. ^ Prien 1994, p. 1374.
  17. ^ Prien et al. 2011, pp. 402, 460.
  18. ^ a b Stockert 2012, p. 29.
  19. ^ Prien et al. 2011, p. 452.
  20. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 815.
  21. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1996a, pp. 868, 1173.
  22. ^ a b Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 990.
  23. ^ Stockert 2012, p. 30.
  24. ^ Bergström & Mikhailov 2001, p. 197.
  25. ^ a b Matthews & Foreman 2015, pp. 451–454.
  26. ^ Planquadrat.
  27. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2000, p. 23.
  28. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2006, p. 303.
  29. ^ a b c Prien et al. 2006, p. 304.
  30. ^ Prien et al. 2003, p. 326.
  31. ^ Prien et al. 2006, p. 305.
  32. ^ a b Prien et al. 2003, p. 327.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Prien et al. 2006, p. 306.
  34. ^ Prien et al. 2003, p. 328.
  35. ^ a b Prien et al. 2003, p. 248.
  36. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, pp. 451–452.
  37. ^ a b c d Prien et al. 2003, p. 329.
  38. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2003, p. 330.
  39. ^ Prien et al. 2003, p. 331.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i Prien et al. 2003, p. 332.
  41. ^ a b c d e f g h Prien et al. 2006, p. 307.
  42. ^ a b c d e f g Prien et al. 2006, p. 308.
  43. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2005, p. 300.
  44. ^ a b c d e f g Prien et al. 2005, p. 301.
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i Prien et al. 2006, p. 309.
  46. ^ a b c d e Prien et al. 2006, p. 296.
  47. ^ a b Prien et al. 2006, p. 310.
  48. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2006, p. 311.
  49. ^ a b c d e f Prien et al. 2006, p. 299.
  50. ^ a b Prien et al. 2004, p. 314.
  51. ^ a b c d e f g h i Prien et al. 2006, p. 300.
  52. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Prien et al. 2011, p. 456.
  53. ^ Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 452.
  54. ^ a b Prien et al. 2006, p. 301.
  55. ^ a b c d e Matthews & Foreman 2015, p. 454.
  56. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1994, p. 635.
  57. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1994, p. 637.
  58. ^ a b Prien & Rodeike 1994, p. 638.
  59. ^ a b c Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1204.
  60. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1205.
  61. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1994, p. 640.
  62. ^ a b Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1206.
  63. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1994, p. 641.
  64. ^ a b c Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1200.
  65. ^ a b c d e Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1208.
  66. ^ a b Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1201.
  67. ^ Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1203.
  68. ^ a b Prien & Rodeike 1996a, p. 1209.
  69. ^ Caldwell 1998, p. 373.
  70. ^ a b Caldwell 1998, p. 393.
  71. ^ a b c Caldwell 1998, p. 391.
  72. ^ Caldwell 1998, p. 397.
  73. ^ Caldwell 1998, p. 416.
  74. ^ a b Caldwell 1998, p. 421.
  75. ^ a b c Prien & Rodeike 1996b, p. 1655.
  76. ^ a b Prien & Rodeike 1996b, p. 1657.
  77. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 358.
  78. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 209.
  79. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 151.
  80. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 60.
  81. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 29.
  82. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 44.
  83. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 17.

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  • Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4. 
  • Weal, John (1996). Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Aces of the Western Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-595-1. 
  • Weal, John (1999). Bf 109F/G/K Aces of the Western Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-905-8. 
  • Weal, John (2001). Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-084-1. 
  • Weal, John (2011). Fw 190 Defence of the Reich Aces. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-482-4. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Oberstleutnant Hermann Graf
Acting commander of Jagdgeschwader 11
April 1944 – April 1944
Succeeded by
Major Herbert Ihlefeld
Preceded by
Major Jürgen Harder
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 11
8 May 1944 – 20 February 1945
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
none
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 76
August 1944 – October 1944
Succeeded by
Major Ernst Düllberg
Preceded by
Major Kurd Peters
Acting commander of Jagdgeschwader 300 Wilde Sau
30 January 1945 – 20 February 1945
Succeeded by
Major Kurd Peters