Born: 26 June 1898 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Died: 15 September 1978 in Munich, Germany.
Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau GmbH
Technical University of Munich
Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG
Wilhelm Emil Messerschmitt was born in Frankfurt, Germany on 26 June 1898 and was a famous aircraft designer during World War II. Willy Messerschmitt was the son Ferdinand Messerschmitt and his second wife Anna Maria, who operated a large wine store in Bamberg. Willy as a young child growing up, persistently built model aeroplanes, as he got older, he designed and built gliders, which he tried out with his friends.
As a 13 year old student Willy Messerschmitt met Friedrich Harth who was a German sailplane pioneer who had a major influence on Willy. In 1917, Willy Messerschmitt joined the German imperial army.
From 1918 to 1923, Willy Messerschmitt studied at the Technical University of Munich, while studying Willy founded Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau GmbH in Bamberg, M 17 was the first powered aircraft, built and designed by Willy, the second aircraft, built was M 18 there were a total of 26 different variants. Built of this model.
In 1927 Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau GmbH moved from Bamberg to Augsburg, and the nearby airfield off Gersthofen Gablingen was where many Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau GmbH designs were test flown.
During 1926. Willy company Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau GmbH worked in close association with
Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG in which he was given the position of chief designer which led to the development of the M 20 which was a 12 seat commercial aircraft used by Lufthansa. Unfortunately the M 20 was flawed, and was involved in several serious crashes. In one crash killing Hans Hackman who was an extremely close friend of Erhard Milch who at that time, was head of Lufthansa, Which started a lifelong hatred of Willy Messerschmitt.
Because of the crashes Erhard Milch cancelled the Lufthansa contract with Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG for M 20 which in turn led to the bankruptcy of Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau GmbH and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG.
However, in 1933 because of the German re-armament program Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG was resurrected. However, because of Erhard Milch intervention Willy Messerschmitt was unable to take over the company until 1938, and that is why early designs of Messerschmitt were designated Bf.
In 1933, Willy along with Robert Lusser designed the M 37 which was a four seat single-engine light aircraft designed totally for sporting purposes however this plane was later redesignated Bf 108 Taifun.
The M 37 was successfully sold to Romania, along with M 36 which was a six seat single-engine passenger airliner, however this success led to further conflict with Erhard Milch who openly called Willy, a national traitor. The Gestapo became involved and questioned Willy and several high-ranking employees of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG, in any event, no further action was taken.
In 1934 Willy along with Walter Rethel designed the Bf 109 which was to become one the most important fighter planes of the Luftwaffe, it was also produced in vast quantities reaching 35,000 plus in 1936 the Bf 109 won the RLM single seat fighter contest, to add to this Bf 110 also won the multipurpose fighter contest which as a point of interest Robert Lusser was in charge of the Bf 110 heavy fighter project.
On 11 July 1938 Willy Messerschmitt was appointed chairman and managing director of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG on the company was later renamed after him to Messerschmitt AG.
During 1938. Work began on Me 262 it would become the first operational jet fighter during World War II.
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