William T. Little, 51, a Washington photographer for more than 30 years and former photo department chief of the Northern Virginia Sun, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Arlington.

He was chief photographer and head of the photo department at the Sun from 1952 to 1968. He received an award in 1959 from the White House Photographers Association for tracking down a hit-and-run driver who had struck former Washington Post photographer Frank P. Hoy.

After hearing of the hit-and-run over a police radio, Mr. Little rushed to the scene of the accident to cover it for his paper. After questioning witnesses at the scene, Mr. Little conducted his own search for the vehicle, and found it less than two hours later.

Mr. Little left the Sun to become supervisor of the color lab at the Cooper-Trent Division of the K&E Company, then became manager of the photo department of the Campbell Photo and Printing Service in Washington in 1971. At the time of his death, he worked for Century III Photography, a commercial photographic business, in Falls Church.

He taught photography courses for the Arlington Adult Education program from 1968 to 1979. He also was active in the Arlington Boy Scouts program, having been a scoutmaster, neighborhood commissioner, and chairman of the troop committee.

He had contributed many of the photographs for a historical work, "Arlington Heritage," written by Eleanor Lee Templeman.The book was published in the 1960s.

Mr. Little was born in Washington and reared in Arlington. He served as a photographer in the Marine Corps from 1945 to 1948.

After leaving the Marines, he worked as a free-lance photographer, attended the National School of Photography in Silver Spring, and worked for an electronics firm before joining the Northern Virginia Sun.

Survivors include his wife, Marilyn, a daughter, Cynthia, and a son, Stephen, all of Arlington; two other sons, Jeffrey, of Newport, R.I., and Michael, of Columbia; his mother, Isabel Booker of Falls Church; a brother, Richard, of McLean, and a sister, Betty Quackenbush of Springfield.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Arlington Methodist Church, the Hospice of Northern Virginia in Arlington, or the National Medical Oncology Branch (NCI-Cancer Institute-Veterans Administration AMC-MOB) c/o Dr. John Minna at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington.