Nuclear weapons were first used in 1945 to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II. It would be over a century after that nuclear weapons would be used again. In 2053, terrorists would obtain a nuclear weapon and manage to detonate it in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.[Non-canon 1] As a direct result of the destruction of Tel Aviv, a limited nuclear exchange would occur in the Middle East one month later.[Non-canon 2]
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.[Non-canon 3] An average strategic warhead in 2077 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.
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 can include bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
In Fallout, the Glow is a radioactive region destroyed by a direct nuclear hit. The Vault Dweller discovers an unused nuke sitting in the Master's vault, to be used as last resort against this final challenge.
In the Capital Wasteland, nuclear weapons appear in several places. Megaton is built around an undetonated atomic bomb, and the Fat Man and its unique variant, the experimental MIRV, use mini nukes. Liberty Prime has an arsenal of medium-sized bombs. Within Fort Constantine, the Lone Wanderer can attempt to launch a ballistic missile from a concrete silo via a computer terminal to an unmarked destination.
Fallout: New Vegas
The Boomers have a stockpile of atomic weapons at Nellis Air Force Base, some of which they have detonated in the past, though Pete shares that they haven't done this since before he was born. The Fat Man 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, including the Minuteman XI variant within Ulysses' missile silo. The warheads throughout the Divide can be detonated using a laser detonator. With Wild Wasteland, an undetonated atomic bomb labeled The One is located northwest of the Devil's Throat.
Nuclear bombs designated Mark 28 are used by Liberty Prime against the Institute. Fat Man launchers are found throughout the region. The Glowing Sea is a unique landscape caused by the detonation of a high-yield nuclear bomb southwest of the greater Boston area. The area contributes to a weather phenomenon known as radstorms. One warhead remains inside of the Yangtze submarine, having failed to launch during the Great War. At Nuka-World, a modified Nuka-nuke launcher was designed to launch weaponized miniature Nuka-Cola nuclear bombs, known as Nuka-nukes.
A long-range nuclear weapon, operated via the Appalachian Automated Launch System. Stored underground in three locations in Appalachia, including Site Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Vault Dwellers can utilize these weapons against various threats as part of public events such as A Colossal Problem and Scorched Earth.
After completing Mission: Countdown in any of the three nuclear silos, player characters can insert a nuclear keycard and enter launch codes which grant access to the targeting computer. They can then target a location on a military-style version of the map to fire the missile, creating a blast zone, and triggering the quest Death from Above.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
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 a nuclear bomb.
Nuclear weapons appear or are mentioned in all Fallout games.
Behind the scenes
- Fallout 4 intro: "In the year 1945, my great-great grandfather, serving in the army, wondered when he'd get to go home to his wife and the son he'd never seen. He got his wish when the US ended World War II by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
- The Courier: "Yeah, any detonation with a yield of less than a half-ton of TNT is boring."
Pete: "Exactly! We haven't detonated any atomic warheads since before I was born, but besides that, to heck with nitpicky restrictions!"
- Liberty Prime's nuclear bomb
- Fort Constantine terminal entries; Fort Constantine launch control
- Fallout history marketing image
- Fallout Bible 0 timeline: "January 2054: Limited nuclear exchange in the Middle East raises fears throughout the world."
- Vault Dweller's Survival Guide; Nuclear blast effects, Overview of delayed effects