Captain Raymond H. Littge
Raymond H. Littge Raymond H. Littge  © Sam Sox
© 352nd FG Association Archive

Distinguished Service Cross ribbon
Silver StarDistinguished Flying CrossAir Medal with fifteen Oak Leaf clusters ribbon
American Defence ribbonAmerican Campaign ribbon
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon five starsWorld War II Victory ribbon
Units: 487th FS, 352nd FG
WWII score: 23.5
Born: Altenburg, Missouri, 18/10/1923
Rank: Captain
Medals: Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 15 oak leaf clusters
Five Battle Stars
Aircraft: P-51C-1-NT, HO-M
SN: 42-103320
"Silver Dollar"

P-51D-25-NT, HO-M
SN: 44-11330
“E Pluribus Unum”

P-51D-20-NA, HO-M
SN: 44-72216
"Miss Helen"

   
 
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The little known ace

Although Captain Raymond H. Littge became the third highest scorer in the 352nd Fighter Group with 23.5 victories (10.5 in the air and 13 on the ground), his exploits have remained relatevely unknown in the years since World War II.
This may by due to the fact that he was a replacement pilot who missed out on the major air battles over Europe during the spring and early summer of 1944, when the more well known aces were gaining the free world's attention.

At the time of Littge's first missions, beginning in July of 1944, the opportunities for frequent aerial combat had lessened somewhat. But from a wingman's point of view he watched the handywork of the 352nd's best, Major George E. Preddy, and learned his lessons well.

Like George Preddy, Ray Littge developed an interest in aviation at a young age, but his road to becoming a pilot was a "little longer and rockier"...

 

Earning his wings

Raymond H. Littge was born on October 18th , 1923, at Altenburg, Missouri and was the son of Henry and Martha (Ahner) Littge. Hendry and Martha had eight kids who were raised in poverish conditions. Their father died when Ray was only four and he was raised by his mother and sister, Altheda.

When he was 16 years old, the family was able to buy a bike for Ray and his younger brother Vernon. Shortly afterwards, Ray set off on a 110 mile trip to see his sister in St. Louis. While there he got to see a large passenger plane and became obsessed with airplanes and flying.
He read every aviation magazine he could lay his hands on started working as a farm hand to make some money. He begged his mother unrelentingly for permission to take flying lessons and finally she gave in. Ray started taking lessons at a small field about 40 miles from his home town.

He attended Altenburg High School for 2 years and graduated in May of 1942 from Perryville High School.

He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the Army Air Corps on July 1st , 1942 and was inducted at Jefferson Barracks on January 19th , 1943.
He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and received his wings at Dale Mabry Field, Florida, on December 5th , 1943.

 

Joining the Bastards

He was sent overseas and was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 352nd Fighter Group, 487th Fighter Squadron in England on May 3rd , 1943. There he completed his P-51 Mustang training.

He started the war with a P-51C-1 42-103320 which he named “Silver Dollar”. The Mustang was previously flown by Lt. Glennon Moran. Littge flew the P-51C until it was declared war-weary on October 29th , 1944.

He flew his first mission on July 1st, 1944. During this mission his squadron encountered a group of 109s and claimed one destroyed and three damaged. On his 7th mission, he got to see Major Preddy in action. The mission was a Ramrod (escort) mission to the Kiel area and the group encountered swarms of enemy fighters.
When the engagement was over, the Bluenosers had scored 21-0-11 (21 kills, 0 probable, 11 damaged) against two losses of their own. Littge recorded in his diary:

"Group got 21 enemy aircraft - Lu-88s and Me-109s. My flight leader got two Me-109s. Lost of excitement. Saw at least seventy enemy aircraft and Major Preddy got four. Elhson got three. Fowler got two - all so fast I didn't even fire my guns - I was his wingman."

Littge's luck finally changed on August 25th during an escort mission to Germany, when he claimed his first two victories. He recorded this achievement in his diary:

"Bomber escort to Northern Germany. Flak, but no enemy fighters. We hit the deck and strafed an airfield at Neubrandenburg in Germany. Got two Me-210s on the first pass and damaged a 109 on the second. The bombers bombed field between passes.
Their airfields are pretty strongly defended by flak, and it's not very healthy to stay long in one spot. When we hit an airfield we got down as low as possible - right on the ground, below the trees, etc. going about 350mph. After hitting it we usually keep right on going and seldom make another pass on a field until the next mission."

It was his 18th mission.

On September 11th , the 8th AF was to raid industrial and petroleum targets in Germany when they were met with the largest force by the Luftwaffe since the spring of 1944. The bulk of the victories went to the 487th that day with 12 aerial and 4 strafing kills. Littge led the strafers at Gottingen airfield with two destroyed and two damaged.

In October of 1944 he was assigned P-51D-5 44-11330 which was named “E Pluribus Unum”. He flew this Mustang until February, 1945, when it got damaged in a landing accident.

P-51D-5 44-11330 “E Pluribus Unum”, October 1944 © 352nd FG Association Archive
P-51D-5 44-11330 which Ray named “E Pluribus Unum”. Picture taken in October of 1944 (© 352nd FG Association Archive)

 

Acedom

He scored his first aerial combat victory on his 46th mission, shooting down 2 BF-109s on November 27th , and later claimed 6 more victories between December 26th and January 1st . He commented on his victories of November 27th and on becoming an ace in his diary and in a letter to his fiancée, Helen Fischer:

"We ran into approximately 400 Me-109s and FW-190s. I was flying with Major Halton. I got two and the second gave me quite a tussle."

"Helen, can you believe it, I became an ace on November 27th! I got my fifth and sixth planes that day - they were Me-190s. The going has been quite rough here lately, but that is the thing we live for - I mean we live for the days when the Luftwaffe shows up."

You can read Lt. Littge's combat report on the November 27th mission here (courtesy of www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org).

On December 26th , the 352nd continued its coverage of the front (now flying from a forward air base in Asch, Belgium, designated Y-29) and scored a further 13.5 kills during two engagements with the Luftwaffe. The first flight of the day took off at 0940hrs when the 487th , led by Lt. Col. John C. Meyer, received a vector to Ollheim. They arrived just in time to prevent a bunch of Bf-109s from bouncing 9th AF P-47s that were dive-bombing German positions. Lt. Ray Littge of White Flight downed one Bf 109.

He stated in his report:

“I then bounced a ‘109 shooting at a P-51. This enemy aircraft broke for the deck immediately and I started shooting from 800 yards down to 150 yards, seeing many strikes and setting the left wing on fire. The fire stopped after a while and he climbed to 6000ft and bailed out.”

On December 27th , the pilots once again headed into Germany. As they approached Bonn, they spotted a large gaggle of enemy aircraft and the 486th and 487th peeled off for the attack. The assault begun at 1100 hrs. On that day Lt. Littge destroyed 3 FW 190s.

Here's his encounter report of that day:

“Flying White Three, our Flight of four bounced 8+ FW 190s on the deck. They started a loose Luftbury to the left and my wingman, Lt. Russell Ross, and I got behind the last boy in the Luftbury. I got strikes on his wings and tail, and he immediately snapped to the left and hit the ground and exploded. This is verified by Lt. Ross's statement. I got behind another one and scored many strikes on the cockpit and wing root area. He rolled over on his back and went into the ground. In the meantime, all but one of the ‘190s were either shot down or dispersed, and I started turning with him. I got strikes on him several different times. He straightened out, jettisoned his canopy and started pulling up. Then an unidentified P-51 came down on him from above and got several strikes as the pilot bailed out. I claim three (3) FW 190s destroyed.”

Click here for a copy of the combat report of Lt. Littge of the actions on December 27th (courtesy of www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org).

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