Retired Rear Admiral Wilson Durward Legget Jr., 75, one of the U.S. Navy's foremost engineers, died at the Washington Home Saturday after a long illness.

A former president of the American Society of Naval Engineers, Admiral Leggett was especially known for his work on the design and development of diesel engines.

Born in Scotland Neck, N.C., Admiral Leggett was graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with the Class of 1921. He served on submarines, commanding one at one time. After earning a master's degree at Columbia University, he became an engineering duty officer.

During World War 2, he was engineering officer for the Mare Island, Calif., Navy Yard and then for the Seventh Fleet. He later headed the Naval Engineering Experiment Station in Annapolis and then the Bureau of Ships before retiring in 1955.

After retirement, Admiral Leggett for several years was vice president for engineering and development of American Locomotive Co. in Schenectady, N.Y. and then became vice president of IMODCO, Inc. in California.

Admiral Leggett received the Navy's Commendation Medal and the Legion of Merit, an honorary doctorate from North Carolina State University for his work on diesel engines, and the 1967 David W. Taylor Medal from the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers for his contributions to marine engineering.

He was a member of the Army and Navy Club and the Chevy Chase Club as well as the American Society of Naval Engineers and Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

Survivors include his wife Mary C. of the home in Washington, a son W. D. Leggett III of Pittsburgh and a daughter Mrs. H. B. Sewell of Lancaster. England, and four granchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy include contributions to Vinson Hall or the American diabetes Association.