Neil H. Swanson, 86, executive editor of the Baltimore Sunpapers from 1941 to 1954, who was a longtime Baltimore newspaperman and the author of historical books and novels, died Feb. 5 in Baltimore County General Hospital. The cause of death was not reported.

He lived in Baltimore before entering Randallstown Convalescent Center about two years ago.

Mr. Swanson moved to Baltimore and joined the Sunpapers, which include the Sun, the Evening Sun, and the Sunday Sun, in 1931. He was named managing editor of the Evening Sun in 1939, and executive editor of the combined newspapers two years later.

After leaving the Sunpapers, he joined the rival Hearst publications, the News Post and Sunday American, forerunners of the current News American. He retired from the newspaper in 1973, but continued to write until several years ago.

His books included "The Unconquered," a novel published in 1948 and made into a movie starring Gary Cooper. A 1937 historical work, "The First Rebel," was made into a film titled "Allegheny Uprising," starring John Wayne.

Mr. Swanson was a native of Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota. He served in the Army in France during World War I, and had been managing editor of both the Pittsburgh Press and the Minneapolis Journal before moving to Baltimore.

His wife, the former Anne Herman Reilly, died in 1974.

Survivors include two daughters, Jean Longdon and Anne Reilly, both of Los Angeles, two sons, Neil Jr., of Maui, Hawaii, and Robert, of Visalia, Calif.; seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.