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Willy Messerschmitt

AKA Wilhelm Emil Messerschmitt

Born: 26-Jun-1898
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: 17-Sep-1978
Location of death: Munich, Germany
Cause of death: Illness
Remains: Buried, Hall Stadter Cemetery, Bamberg, Germany

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Engineer, Business

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Designer of Nazi fighter planes

Military service: German Army (1917-19)

Wilhelm "Willy" Messerschmitt built his first glider when he was 16 years old, and founded Flugzeugbau-Messerschmitt (Messerschmitt Aircraft) when he was fresh out of college, in 1923. Three years later it became the Bavarian Aircraft Works, a partially-owned subsidiary of BMW, where Messerschmitt designed the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force, the Bf 109 single-seat monoplane. He became head of the firm when it was reorganized with Nazi support as Messerschmitt AG in 1938, where he designed military planes including the single-seat Me 109 (which set a speed record of 481 mph in 1939), the Me 110 bomber, the Me 163 rocket-propelled aircraft; and the first jet-propelled fighter, the Me 262. In 1938 he was awarded the Nazis' highest honor, the German National Prize for Art and Science, by Adolf Hitler.

After World War II Messerschmitt was imprisoned for two years. His firm was banned from aircraft production, and instead built pre-fabricated housing, motorcycles, and small appliances. Messerschmitt AG resumed aircraft production in 1958, and was subsequently known as Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm, Deutsche Aerospace AG, and Daimler-Benz Aerospace. Its corporate descendant is the present-day EADS Germany AG, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS).

Father: Johan Baptiste Ferdinand Messerschmitt (wine merchant)
Mother: Anna Maria Schuller (div.)

    High School: Bamberg Gymnasium, Bamberg, Germany
    University: BS Engineering, Munich Institute of Technology (1923)
    Teacher: Engineering, Munich Institute of Technology (1929-37)
    Professor: Engineering, Munich Institute of Technology (1937-38)

    EADS Messerschmitt AG:Founder and President (1938-68)
    BMW Chief Designer, Bavarian Aircraft Works (1933-38)
    BMW Chief Designer, Bavarian Aircraft Works (1926-31)
    Messerschmitt Aircraft Founder & President (1923-26)
    German Academy of Aeronautical Research VP
    German National Prize for Art and Science 1938
    Taken Prisoner of War (1945-47)

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