The Megaton atomic bomb (called Atom by the Church of the Children of Atom and also the Apostles of the Holy Light) is the undetonated C-23 Megaton nuclear weapon sitting at the center of Megaton. The fate of the bomb and the whole settlement is determined in one of the adventures of the Lone Wanderer.
Megaton's crater was formed by a plane crash near Arlington during the Great War in 2077. Predecessors to the Children of the Atom began worship of the bomb, while other refugees hid from dust storms in the wreckage. Both groups formed the early founders of Megaton. As Megaton became a settled trade hub, some wanted to move the bomb, however worship of the bomb had evolved into the fledging Church of Atom. The Church would refuse to aide in clearing the wreckage, then a vital part of Megaton's population. Further, some feared the consequences of tampering with a bomb which had thus far seemed harmless. This situation continued through the construction of the town walls in 2241.
In 2277, Confessor Cromwell preaches on a daily basis from the foot of the bomb, calling for believers to drink from the puddle that has formed at the bottom of the crater. Despite his efforts, support for the Church has wavered. The rest of Megaton's population has remained either apathetic, or ignorant of the still active bombs risk. Many even believing the Bomb itself caused the crater. The Lone Wanderer is given the choice to detonate it (destroying Megaton in the process), or disarm it and save the town's population. Mister Burke is the person who is looking for help detonating it, as his employer, Allistair Tenpenny, considers Megaton "a blight on the landscape" of the Capital Wasteland. Megaton's sheriff Lucas Simms offers a reward for disarming the bomb. The fate of the town lies in the Lone Wanderer's hands.
The atomic bomb itself is in the center of the town, since Megaton was built around the crater in which it sits. It lies in a puddle of radioactive water from which Confessor Cromwell is constantly making speeches about his religion.
The bomb can be rigged to detonate with a fusion pulse charge.
Despite being a nuclear weapon, a barely-identifiable biohazard trefoil is found near the tip of the bomb facing the church.
Outside of Megaton
After taking part of the Ritual of the Mother Seed inside Point Lookout's Sacred Bog, the Lone Wanderer sees the bomb sitting next to Mister Break during the punga-infused hallucination. Although similar to the real bomb in Megaton, the imaginary one is much larger. After an interaction with Mr. Break, the bomb explodes and the Lone Wanderer wakes up outside of the Sacred Bog.
The Megaton atomic bomb only appears in Fallout 3.
Behind the scenes
The Megaton bomb is modeled after the "Fat Man" bomb, one of the world's first three functional nuclear weapons. "Fat Man" was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, although the bomb in-game is much larger than the real one. Also, in the Japanese version of the game, the option to detonate the bomb was removed due to the controversy of it being modeled after the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II and Japanese people may have taken offense to the fact.
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- Confessor Cromwell:"I've been concerned about church attendance lately, Mother. The town's inability to fully accept Atom's promise is... most discouraging."
- Manya: When the war happened, the machines started dropping from the sky. Everyone around here thinks that the bomb made the crater, but it didn't."