Born to a wealthy wine family in Calw, Germany, Schnaufer joined the Luftwaffe in 1939 with the distinction of already being a credited glider pilot before his enlistment. Schnaufer would find himself deployed to the Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 unit operating on the Western Front. Operating almost exclusively at night within his BF 110 night fighter, Schnaufer would score 121 confirmed kills, making him the highest night fighter in history. Schnaufer would receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on October 16, 1944 for his 100th kill by Hitler himself.
"During the night of the 9th to the 10th October Hauptmann Schnaufer, Gruppenkommandeur in a night fight wing, whom the Führer has decorated with the Oak Leaves with Swords to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, scored his 100th night aerial victory." via the official Wehrmachtbericht dated October 10, 1944.
Schnaufer would survive the war with the rank of Major and take on his family's winery until his death in 1950 from a car accident.
A deadly and capable enemy elite in every respect,
Schnaufer's BF 110 G-4 in action.
Schnaufer's victory wing from his BF 110 G-4 at Imperial War Museum.