Wilhelm Emil "Willy" Messerschmitt (German pronunciation: [ˈmɛsɐʃmɪt]; 26 June 1898 – 15 September 1978) was a German aircraft designer and manufacturer. In 1934, in collaboration with Walter Rethel, he designed the Messerschmitt Bf 109, which became the most important fighter aircraft in the Luftwaffe as Germany rearmed prior to World War II. It remains the second most-produced warplane in history, with some 34,000 built, behind the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2. Another Messerschmitt aircraft, first called "Bf 109R", purpose-built for record setting, but later redesignated Messerschmitt Me 209, broke the absolute world airspeed record and held the world speed record for propeller-driven aircraft until 1969. Messerschmitt's firm also produced the first jet-powered fighter to enter service — the Messerschmitt Me 262.
He was born in Frankfurt am Main, the son of Baptist Ferdinand Messerschmitt (1858–1916) and his second wife, Anna Maria Schaller (1867–1942).