This is an overview article, focusing on background information and cross-game comparisons. See articles on the right game-specific information.
Gameplay articles
FalloutPower armor
Hardened power armor
Fallout 2Power armor
Hardened power armor
Fallout 3T-51b power armor
Winterized T-51b power armor
Fallout: New VegasT-51b power armor
Brotherhood T-51b power armor
Fallout 4T-51 power armor
Fallout 76T-51 power armor
Prototype Steel Mill T-51b
Ultracite power armor
Strangler heart power armor
Fallout: BoSPower armor
Advanced power armor
Van BurenCut content Power armor
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T-51 powered combat infantry armor[1][2] is the most advanced operational power armor type developed before the Great War by West Tek on contract from the United States government. It provided a balance of performance, protection and mobility to United States troops, decisively shfting the balance of power in the Sino-American War.[Non-game 1]

Background

United States soldier in power armor

The successful deployment of the first operational power armor in 2067, designated T-45, changed the nature of modern warfare and played a key role in stabilizing the frontline in Alaska.[3][4][Non-game 2] West-Tek started development on an improved model of power armor immediately and by 2069, it was the single largest defense contract for the company.[5]

In 2074, following the invasion of mainland China, the aging T-45 model proved insufficient, and power armor units, infantry and mechanized divisions became bogged down in fighting.[Non-game 3] The development of a replacement continued, with various production models tested in combat conditions at Fort Strong in Massachusetts, troubleshooting the design. A prototype tested in September 2075 had the desired mobility and protection but were far from stable and soldiers tended to tip over on hard landings. Gyroscopic stabilizers and shock absorbers were subsequently added.[6] Pressure increased on development and by February 2076, the Pentagon demanded that turnaround times be cut in half, due to intensifying combat operations overseas. Despite the dangers, Fort Strong development teams complied.[7]

The intensified effort paid off and culminated in the first production run of T-51 power armor being sent to China in June 2076. It outperformed the T-45 in every aspect, providing the United States with the means to overcome Chinese resistance on all fronts, to the point where Chinese troops would surrender upon spotting a T-51 contingent.[8][Non-game 4] The renewed American offensive finally sent the People's Liberation Army into retreat. In January 2077, General Constantine Chase completed the Anchorage Reclamation, using troops fielding winterized T-51b power armor as spearhead to minimize causalities.[9][10] The Chinese war effort buckled and their supply routes broke down completely, with sweeping attacks by power armor units armed with the T-51 playing a crucial role.[Non-game 5][Non-game 4] In addition to the war against the Chinese, units in T-51 were also deployed to quell attacks by Canadian freedom fighters who were resisting the US annexation of Canada,[11] and from January 22, 2077, onwards, to break protests on the homefront, particularly the food riots.[Non-game 6]

Although recognized as the pinnacle of mechanized protection and associated with the battle of Anchorage,[12] the T-51 was bolstered by the deployment of T-60 power armor after Anchorage,[13] and the two were a common sight in all US military engagements by October 2077.[14]

After the Great War, the T-51 continued to serve with distinction with various wasteland factions. Its principal operator is the Brotherhood of Steel, with Brotherhood T-51b armor being commonly associated with the Brotherhood in New California.[15] Its use proliferated and by mid-23rd century it was used by a number of mercenary groups.[16] It was also the service armor of the Enclave until the deployment of advanced power armor of its own design in the early 23rd century, at which point the T-51 was relegated to training and logistical duties.[17]

Design

The T-51[1] was widely considered the apex of pre-War powered combat infantry development. Developed over a decade of war by West Tek, it incorporates many of the lessons gleaned from the T-45 power armor service history. Unlike its predecessor, the T-51 benefits from a long development cycle and uses custom-made components to create not a stop-gap model, but armor that provides the best possible protection through incorporating the latest passive defense features.[18][5][2] The resulting perfect balance of performance, mobility and protection made it a powerful asset for United States soldiers on the frontlines.[Non-game 1]

Like the T-45, it is designed for a single human operator, patterned after the human silhouette. Unlike its older sibling, the exterior shell is made from a poly-laminate composite capable of absorbing over 2.5 kilojoules of energy without damage. The strength of the material is further enhanced by the organic, rounded profile of the shell, improving the chances of deflecting projectiles and explosions compared to the older steel plating present on the T-45. The shell is coated in a 10-micron silver ablative layer that allows for reflecting laser blasts and radiation emissions without damaging the composite surface directly.[2][19] The surface can be treated in a special chemical process to increase its defensive properties substantially.[Non-game 7] To further enhance protection against direct contact with and contamination by radioactive, biological or chemical substances, the armor can be made airtight, allowing its operator to explore even the most contaminated areas with reasonable safety as long as the armor is not compromised.[20] The helmet is an integral part of this protection, fitted with a rubberized cowl mounted to the chest plate and providing a tight seal. The Courier can claim that the T-series' vision slits are bulletproof,[21] though conversation with Sheena in Appalachia mentions "a helmet with a bullet hole through the visor" being taken as a trophy after a battle with the Brotherhood First Expeditionary Force.[22] Both can potentially be right, as "bulletproof" is usually a misnomer, as a large enough bullet can penetrate conventionally bulletproof glass that is immune to smaller caliber bullets. Compared to its predecessor, the helmet is smaller and more durable, made out of a single piece of composite, with an easily removable vision assembly. As with the T-45, the ear ports double as accessory mounting points, with a drop-down aiming ocular being standard on all T-51 suits. A forehead-mounted lamp is provided for convenience.

The T-51's ace in the hole is the hydraulics system integrated into the West Tek power armor frame.[23] Powered by a back-mounted TX-28 microfusion pack generating 60,000 watts, the HiFlo hydraulics integrated into the frame of the suit allow it to carry the bulk of the suit and allow the soldier to carry heavy weapons into combat. Due to the design of the T-51, it's much more nimble and agile than the T-45.[2] However, to achieve optimal performance, the armor has to be custom-fitted to each operator.[Non-game 7] A properly fitted armor worn by a well-trained operator feels like an extension of one's body.[24] Comfort is imperative to success in combat operations, aided by the power armor's ability to recycle urine into perfectly drinkable water, allowing the operator to survive for weeks in power armor.[25][18]

T-51b power armor

T51 power armor.png

The most ubiquitous model of power armor typically features a solid olive green livery on the breastplate and pauldrons, with the base light gray on the limbs and helmet. It was widely considered the apex of the pre-War power armor design.

Winterized T-51b

Fo3OA Winterized T-51b.png
Gameplay article: Fallout 3

A pre-War variant of the T-51b power armor adapted for fighting in Arctic environments. The most noticeable difference is that the armor is painted a pale blue hue to blend in with the snowy environments and bears explicit livery of the United States Army (Army stars on the pauldrons and the national flag below the TX-28 fusion pack. The serial number is also printed on the left side of the chest plate.

Brotherhood T-51b

FNV T51b Brotherhood.png
Gameplay article: Fallout: New Vegas

A post-War variant of the T-51b, used by the Brotherhood of Steel as its service armor in New California and children chapters of Lost Hills. The olive green coloring of the armor has faded entirely and was replaced with a pale gray color overall. Brotherhood suits are kept in a state of good repair, with the usual streaks of rust and damage found on suits in the wasteland noticeably absent. The Brotherhood sigil is painted on the left pauldron, as per standard practice.

Prototype Steel Mill T-51b

Gameplay article: Wastelanders

An incomplete civilian model of the power armor under development by Grafton Steel's Project Phoenix. It was intended to not only allow workers to withstand and work under extreme temperatures but also to service machinery without stopping up the whole works. Only the helmet had been successfully produced when the Great War occurred.

Ultracite power armor

FO76 Ultracite Power Armor.jpg
Gameplay article: Fallout 76

A post-war, upgraded variant of the T-51 that uses Ultracite in its design. This variant was developed by both the Brotherhood of Steel's Lost Hills and Appalachia chapters. The upgrades push the T-51's performance far higher than previous versions.

Strangler heart power armor

FO76NW Strangler Heart PA.png
Gameplay article: Nuclear Winter

A set of ultracite power armor that has been completely overrun by strangler vines and other flora. When the full set is equipped, the wearer gains the strangler heart set bonus, which adds acid damage to all armed attacks and makes nearby enemies take acid damage.

Behind the scenes

Gallery

Fallout

Fallout 2

Fallout 3

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout 4

Fallout 76

Fallout Tactics

Van Buren

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Vault Dweller: "{112}{}{What type of armor is that your wearing.}"
    Darrel: "{135}{}{This is Powered Combat Infantry Armor model T-51b or more commonly know as Power Armor.}"
    (Darrel's dialogue)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Power armor specs: "The T-51b Powered Infantry Armor is designed with the latest passive defense features for both civilian and military disturbances. The back-mounted TX-28 MicroFusion Pack generates 60,000 Watts to power the HiFlo hydraulic systems built into the frame of the suit. Made of the latest poly-laminate composite, the T-51b shell is lightweight and capable of absorbing over 2500 Joules of kinetic impact. The 10 micron silver ablative coating can reflect laser and radiation emissions without damage to the composite subsurface."
  3. Fallout 76 loading screens: "Built by defense contractor West-Tek, the T-45 series of Power armor was the first to be successfully deployed on the battlefield. Its introduction changed the nature of modern warfare."
  4. Fallout 4 loading screens: "The T-45 series was the first version of Power Armor ever employed on the battlefield by the U.S. military. Many suits remain active in the Wasteland today, and provide their wearers with substantial protection."
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Vault Dweller: "{207}{}{Base Information}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{211}{}{West Tech Research Facility: Founded in 2002 as a private contractor for the United States government, the company initially consisted of two divisions--the Advanced Weapons Research and the Biomedical Sciences divisions.}
    {241}{}{ In 2069, West Tech was the single largest contractor for the United States government; its largest contract being Powered Infantry Armor Model T-51b. }
    {242}{}{In light of significant advances in 2076 by the NBC on the Pan-Immunity Virion Project, the United States Defense Department, in fear of international espionage,}
    {243}{}{ moved a team onto the site to secure and oversee the project, now dubbed the FEV (Forced Evolutionary Virus) project.}"
    (ZAX 1.2's dialogue)
  6. Fort Strong terminal entries; General Brock's terminal, General Brock's Report - September 2075
  7. Fort Strong terminal entries; General Brock's terminal, General Brock's Report - February 2076
  8. Fort Strong terminal entries; General Brock's terminal, General Brock's Report - June 2076
  9. Constantine Chase: "What are we looking at for losses if we pull this off?"
    Thomas Morgan: "I'd say about 20 percent, sir. But that number significantly decreases if we can get the tin cans in there."
    Constantine Chase: "Good, good. Keep monitoring the battlefield and let me know when we've punched through the Pulse Field."
    (Constantine Chase and Thomas Morgan's dialogue)
  10. Constantine Chase: "How's our boys in the suits doing?"
    Thomas Morgan: "The T-51b units are at 95 percent readiness level. We've had a bit of trouble adapting them to the cold."
    Constantine Chase: "Well, tell those men they need to be ready. As soon as the Pulse Field is down, we need them cocked, locked and ready to rock."
    (Constantine Chase and Thomas Morgan's dialogue)
  11. Fallout intro
  12. Fallout 4 loading screens: "The T-51 series of Power Armor was the pinnacle of mechanized protection before the Great War. First introduced in the Battle of Anchorage, it is highly valued today for its increased protective capabilities."
  13. Fallout 4 loading screens: "The T-60 series of Power Armor saw extensive use by the United States Army after the Battle of Anchorage. In fact, soldiers in T-60 Power Armor were among those trying to retain order on October 23, 2077 - the day America fell to atomic war..."
  14. Fallout 76 loading screens: "The most advanced suits of Power Armor to see extensive use were the T-60 models. By the time of the Great War, they were a common sight in all U.S. military engagements."
  15. Brotherhood paladins in Fallout are the exclusive owners of the armor.
  16. Mercenaries in Fallout 2 spawn with combat armor and T-51 power armor at max level.
  17. Enclave troops on the oil rig in Fallout 2 are seen in barracks and workshops. It is not seen at all on the mainland.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Armor appearance in the games.
  19. The Vault Dweller: "{218}{}{Power Armor. Status: Complete}"
    ZAX 1.2: "{231}{}{Power Armor Specs: The T-51b Powered Infantry Armor is designed with the latest passive defense features for both civilian and military disturbances. }
    {250}{}{The back-mounted TX-28 MicroFusion Pack generates 60,000 Watts to power the HiFlo hydraulic systems built into the frame of the suit. }
    {251}{}{Made of the latest poly-laminate composite, the T-51b shell is lightweight and capable of absorbing over 2500 Joules of kinetic impact. }
    {252}{}{The 10 micron silver ablative coating can reflect laser and radiation emissions without damage to the composite subsurface.}"
    (ZAX 1.2's dialogue)
  20. Ancient Brotherhood disk: "The fact that I can smell Soto's burning flesh where his arm was taken off means that my power armor is no longer airtight, so I'm sucking up a lot more rads than I had planned on. I'm leaking hydraulics at an alarming rate. We need to get far enough away from this place before my armor dies."
  21. The Courier: "You're saying that you killed a Brotherhood of Steel Paladin?"
    Ricky: "What's it sound like I'm saying? If I was saying what you said I was saying, then yeah, I said it!"
    The Courier: "Please go on. This promises to be entertaining."
    Ricky: "I was walking along, minding my own, and up pops one of them Brotherhoods. He yells "Hand over that laser rifle, asshole!" So I hand it over, just to make him think I'm scared! But really I'm not! I never am! Before he knows what hit him, I draw my 11mm machinegun and BAM! BAM! Right through the eyeslit in his helmet! D.O.A.!"
    The Courier: "What a load of crap. The eyeslits of T-series power armor are bullet-proof!"
    Ricky: "Then I guess this dumb fucker's armor musta been... D-series or something! All I know is, he died up real dead when I killed him, okay?"
    (Ricky's dialogue)
  22. Vault Dweller: "Did your Raider friends mention anything else about the fight?"
    Sheena: "They wouldn't shut up about it, so I learned to tune it out pretty quick. But I do remember them passing around a helmet with a bullet hole through its visor. A trophy from the fallen."
    (Sheena's dialogue)
  23. The Sole Survivor: "One good idea can make all the difference."
    Preston Garvey: "Sturges? Tell him."
    Sturges: "There's a crashed vertibird up on the roof. Old school. Pre-war. You might've seen it. Well, looks like one of its passengers left behind a seriously sweet goody. We're talking a full suit of cherry T-45 Power Armor. Military issue."
    The Sole Survivor: "What makes that Power Armor so special?"
    Sturges: "A West Tek internalized servo-system, that's what. Inside that baby, super is the new normal. You'll be stronger, tougher, resistant to rads. And... Get the suit, you can rip the minigun right off the vertibird. Do that, and those Raiders get an express ticket to Hell. You dig?"
    The Sole Survivor: "And I can use the minigun like a... rifle?"
    Sturges: "Don't see why not. It'll have a manual trigger. Just aim it at the bad guys, and do the ole' "spray and pray." Now, as for the armor... It's outta juice. Probably has been for a hundred years. It can be powered up again, but we're a bit stuck..."
    (Preston Garvey and Sturges' dialogue)
  24. The Vault Dweller: "{137}{}{It looks like it would be cumbersome to wear.}"
    Darrel: "{147}{}{Cumbersome? Not in the least. The sacred armor is so finely constructed to such exacting specifications that it feels like an extension of the blessed one's own body. It increases one's strength many times over and helps you resist the effects of radiation so that you may more effectively serve the brotherhood. I would feel diminished without my holy armor.}"
    (Darrel's dialogue)
  25. Paladin: "{103}{}{Did you know you could survive for weeks without water in a suit of powered armor?}"
    (Generic Paladin's dialogue)
Non-game
  1. 1.0 1.1 Bethesda UK
  2. Fallout Bible 0: "2067 The first suit of Power Armor is deployed in Alaska. While lacking the full mobility of future versions, this Power Armor is incredibly effective against Chinese tanks and infantry. Its ability to carry heavy ordinance becomes key in various localized conflicts, and it has the power to destroy entire towns without endangering the wearer. China rushes to create its own versions, but they are many years behind the United States."
  3. Fallout Bible 0 timeline: "2074 Contrary to their claims of seeking only to retake Alaska from the Reds, American Power Armor units, infantry, and mechanized divisions are deployed to China, but they become bogged down on the mainland, putting a further drain on American resources and supply lines.'"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fallout Bible 0 timeline: "2076 June Power Armor prototype completed, resulting in the Power Armor players find in Fallout 1. This is the pinnacle of Power Armor technology before the Great War. Many of these units are sent to China, and they begin to carve a swath through the Chinese forces. The Chinese resources are strained to the breaking point, and the supply lines from the nations China has annexed begin to break down."
  5. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.43: "Chinese Army (Simulated)
    U.S. Army (Simulated)
    With conditions deteriorating between the United States and China, a military presence in Alaska was established to prevent a possible invasion across the Bering Strait. With increasingly scarce oil reserves, a last deep-sea deposit below the Pacific Ocean was claimed by China before allegedly being sabotaged by American special operatives. Strained relationships spiraled downward into conflict as China marched on Alaska, and the Sino-American War of 2066—2077 erupted. Under the command of General Jingwei, the Chinese Army usurped control of Alaska's oil pipeline and reserves. In response, the Americans began what came to be called "The Alaskan Reclamation Operation" (2067—2077).
    Under the leadership of General Constantine Chase, the U.S. Army battled fiercely to the front lines of the conflict before Chase began deploying specialized Power Armor units that began pushing the Chinese back. Future Power Armor suits were further refined as the conflict dragged on, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was reclaimed. With resources flowing through Canada, strained diplomatic tensions between Canada and the United States becoming problematic, and Canadian forces attacking the pipeline, the country was annexed.
    A combination of inclement weather, constant American bombardment and trench warfare, and U.S. Powered Armor unit attacks sweeping through mainline China, the Chinese supply lines weakened and finally broke down completely. By the beginning of 2077, the city of Anchorage was finally liberated, the Chinese eradicated, and the operation deemed a success. A commemorative memorial was erected in Washington, D.C., in honor of the soldiers who fought and perished for the greater American good. Violence between America and pockets of Canadian freedom fighters continued throughout 2077, until the Great War obliterated almost all infrastructure, commerce, and human life."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide faction profiles)
  6. Fallout Bible 0 timeline: "2077 January 22 The first domestic use of Power Armor within the United States for crowd and quarantine control. Units originally serving in China and the Anchorage Front Line find themselves fighting Americans at home. Food riots increase, and many civilians are killed. Several soldiers defect from the military both in Canada and the United States. They are captured, and are sent to military prisons."
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fallout 2 Official Strategies & Secrets p.66-67: "Power Armor is the latest development in personal body armor. This armor must be custom fitted to the user and is so heavy that it requires internal micro-motors to allow movement. Hardening is a process that increases the protection of normal Power Armor. Advanced Power Armor is a completely new, postwar design of this Cadillac of the personal protection world (tail fins optional)."
  8. J.E. Sawyer, NMA: "We tried to model the power armor as T-Ray did in the opening movie and game, but he could get away with clipping that would look really bad at close distances or certain angles. Simply put, building the Fallout power armor as it originally looked would have resulted in a suit with a tiny range of motion or a hilarious amount of clipping. We changed as much as we needed to allow for more flexibility in movement, but tried to stay very close to the original design whenever possible."
  9. Tim Cain GDC talk at 10:42
Non-canon
  1. J.E. Sawyer, NMA: "We tried to model the power armor as T-Ray did in the opening movie and game, but he could get away with clipping that would look really bad at close distances or certain angles. Simply put, building the Fallout power armor as it originally looked would have resulted in a suit with a tiny range of motion or a hilarious amount of clipping. We changed as much as we needed to allow for more flexibility in movement, but tried to stay very close to the original design whenever possible."
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