A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion.
Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. A modern thermonuclear weapon weighing little more than a thousand kilograms can produce an explosion comparable to the detonation of more than a million tons of conventional high explosives. Nuclear weapons include bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Nuclear weapons were first used in World War II on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, effectively ending the war. The atomic bomb, a purely fission-based weapon, and the hydrogen bomb, a fission-fusion hybrid weapon, were both developed, with hydrogen bombs considered more dangerous due to the sheer size of their explosive yields.
Megaton-class thermonuclear weapons had largely been retired by the major nuclear powers in favor of much smaller-yield warheads by the time of the Great War. An average strategic warhead in 2077 (with a few exceptions, such as the weapons which fell on Washington D.C.) had a yield of about 200-750 kilotons, but with a massive increase in radioactive fallout in place of thermal shock. However, despite the apparent reduction in raw explosive power, this arsenal was far more dangerous to the Earth's ecosystem, as it deposited far greater amounts of fallout in the atmosphere than had been assumed by pre-War models.
China, the United States of America, the Soviet Union, the European Commonwealth's member states and other countries around the world possessed massive nuclear stockpiles. Limited nuclear exchanges occurred before the Great War as well, with at least one nuclear weapon detonated in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2053. The Great War stands are the largest and final example of nuclear weapon use.
In Fallout, the Glow is a testament to the horror of nuclear war, a radioactive hellhole destroyed by a direct nuclear hit. In the same game, the Vault Dweller also discovers an unused nuke sitting in the Master's vault, to be used as last resort against an undefeatable enemy.
Nuclear weapons feature prominently in Fallout 3, in the form of the C-23 Megaton - Megaton's nuke, the Fat Man and its unique variant, the experimental MIRV, which are two tactical nuclear catapults, a bunker full of nuclear bombs, vertibirds with nuclear carpet bombs, Liberty Prime's arsenal of medium-sized bombs, various orbital weapons platforms such as Highwater-Trousers and Bradley-Hercules.
Fallout: New VegasEdit
The Fat Man also returned in Fallout: New Vegas; it can be purchased from Knight Torres, a merchant in the Hidden Valley bunker. The Gun Runners also sell them. A unique version can also be purchased if one has the Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on.
In the add-on Lonesome Road nuclear weapons were detonated before the arrival of the Courier and many nuclear weapons remain scattered throughout the Divide, namely in an old missile silo. There are also some undetonated warheads scattered around in the divide that can be detonated using a laser detonator. Then there are the more 'ballistic' missiles, such as the Minuteman XI, Titan V and converted Delta 9 rockets that are launched from concrete silos (like the one outside Fort Constantine and in the Divide), and submarines (like the Chinese Yangtze). Most missiles that can still be found are either broken or still waiting for launch, as some officers based in these silos perished or refused to fire their warheads, including an entire arsenal of them in The Divide.
In Fallout 4, Mark 28 bombs are used by Liberty Prime against the Institute. In addition, the Fat Man launchers make a reappearance. The Glowing Sea is a unique landscape caused by the detonation of a nuclear bomb southwest of the greater Boston area. Unique radstorms roll through the Commonwealth as a result.
Nuclear weapons play a large role in the main story of Fallout 76 with Vault 76's overseer going missing while attempting to track down the launch codes and locations of three nuclear missile silos, Site Alpha, Site Bravo and Site Charlie in the Appalachia area. Player characters who manage to locate one of these silos and its respective launch code can use the silo's ICBM to destroy a target of their choice, be it scorchbeasts or enemy player characters. Fat Man nuclear launchers also return.
Fallout: Brotherhood of SteelEdit
A nuclear device also rests on the Secret Vault in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, as an emergency decontamination procedure (a self-destruct system) if the vault started to become too dangerous. A special monorail located in the first complex of the laboratories section should be used to evacuate the vault dwellers quickly to a secret exit in the mountains. The Initiate activates it to obliterate all of its research and all of the experimental deathclaws, radbugs, super mutants, robots, and the heavily mutated Attis, destroying both the Secret Vault and the city of Los.
- The term nuke is a generic name for anything that resembles a missile.
- The Bradley-Hercules platform appears to have been designed for surgical strikes based on its performance, taking out a single target in a small area of effect while leaving the surrounding area unscathed.
- The Highwater-Trousers platform appears to have been designed to destroy Satcom arrays NN-03d, NW-07c and NW-05a, its missiles only having the force of a standard mini nuke.
- The Kovac-Muldoon Platform was specifically designed for use in the aftermath of a nuclear war, not during one, by the Enclave.
Nuclear weapons appear in all Fallout games.