|This is an overview article, focusing on background information and cross-game comparisons.|
Vertibird is a designation for a series of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. These multipurpose tiltrotor aircraft were developed by the United States military and rapidly became a primary gunship and transport aircraft.
Developed by the Department of Defense as early as 2072, the original Vertibird was created as a multipurpose tiltrotor vertical take-off aircraft. While utilized early on in the days before the Great War, certain companies got word of its development, and began planning the use of it for their own methods. Following the success of the initial design, the military commenced work on a superior model, hoping to improve on virtually every aspect of the original: Better armor, better weapons, better speed and cargo capacity, everything. When the Great War struck in 2077, the XVB02 Vertibird was still in the prototype phase, scheduled to enter full military service in 2085.
Limited trial runs were developed and pressed into service, including winterized models during the last stages of the Battle of Anchorage The Enclave would finish prototyping the XVB02 at the Control Station Enclave, along with the X-01 power armor, sometime after the Great War and begin producing the XVB02 en masse.
The second-generation Vertibird was produced into two distinct versions: a transport design, with a large glass canopy, six non-retractable landing struts, a spacious cargo bay and seven-bladed rotors for extra lift, and a gunship, with a heavily armored hull, four rotor blades, four retractable landing struts, and better armament. These were used extensively in field operations on the West Coast, which include trading with the Salvatore family of New Reno, capturing of test subjects for the FEV Curling-13 research program from Arroyo and Vault 13 and more. Around 2242, the Chosen One stole the Vertibird plans from the Navarro base, making it possible that the Vertibird plans ended up in the hands of various factions of the wasteland. The destruction of the oil rig later that year has likely destroyed a large number of aircraft in the Enclave's service. When the Navarro military base was later conquered by the NCR, all of the Vertibirds stationed at the base were put into military service. One aircraft was assigned for transporting the NCR President, receiving a special green, white, and gold paint scheme as well as the designation Bear Force One.
In 2277, Enclave forces that relocated to the Capital Wasteland deployed a large fleet of Vertibirds to support their ground operations in the region. These gunships were used in a decidedly military capacity. A large number of craft were once again pressed into service by the eastern division of the Brotherhood of Steel, having not been used since the days of the Appalachian Brotherhood of Steel, becoming widely used by 2287.
The Vertibird has a heavily armored fuselage and can be outfitted with a variety of offensive weapons and defensive countermeasures, the most common being Gatling lasers, missile racks, and a mini nuke bay. It is unknown how a Vertibird is powered; however, dialogue with the Enclave remnants indicate a combustible fuel source. It has a winch that can haul several tons of equipment - or a large deathclaw cage.
There are two known versions of the craft used by the Enclave:
- A transport-oriented version with a glass canopy, six legs, a large cargo bay, and seven blades on each rotor to provide extra lift. This was the variant used before the Destruction of Control Station Enclave.
- A dedicated gunship version with a more heavily armored hull, four-bladed rotors, and four retractable landing struts as well as greater maneuverability. This is the variant in use by the Enclave Remnants and the Enclave operating in the Capital Wasteland. This is the variant seen after the destruction of Control Station Enclave.
- A bulkier transport model with a glass cockpit, retractable side doors, collapsible wings, and two additional jet engines behind the main cabin.
Based on evidence from the Museum of Freedom, the Vertibird (at least in its early/pre-War versions) lacks shielding and is susceptible to an EMP. Its armaments consist of two front-facing cannons and dual miniguns. The Vertibird's crew consists of two pilots but can be piloted just as smoothly with only one.
The Vertibird's VTOL flight mechanics allow it to approach landing zones with the speed of a fixed-wing aircraft and transition into a hovering mode of flight, by tilting its rotors vertically upwards 90 degrees. Given this extreme amount of maneuverability, the Vertibird is regarded as a formidable force in the Fallout universe.
While the design of a Vertibird is convenient, its dual rotor-blades serve as a flight hazard, for if the aircraft were to suffer a single rotary malfunction at a substantial altitude, the Vertibird's airframe and distribution of down-wash would cause the aircraft to fall on its side in a dramatic and likely fatal crash, which can be seen if the player character disables a Vertibird's rotor in Fallout 4. In addition, the Fallout 4 version, due to its narrow landing gear footprint and high center of gravity, would easily topple to the side during landing.
Vertibirds are mostly supporting craft, but they will attack in a few circumstances. They are a significant threat for a wide array of reasons, but the biggest is that they pack an enormous amount of firepower on an extremely well-armored chassis. Their weapons include a nose-mounted Gatling laser, a minigun on the left side of the Vertibird for passengers, a pair of missile launchers, and a bomb rack for mini nukes. All of these weapons are threatening; the missile launcher deals heavy damage and can knock an opponent back, the Gatling laser can deal a lot of damage from afar, the minigun is used to mow down large amounts of infantry, and the mini nukes, used in airstrikes against heavy targets and placed defenses, can instantly kill a hostile.
Vertibirds tasked with fire support are the biggest threat, as they eliminate engaging hostile forces to back up Enclave troops on the ground. These Vertibirds often perform bombing runs and make several passes to eliminate any resistance in the area. Vertibirds on these support flights may open fire with their missile launchers or Gatling lasers, though they do not use them as much as their mini nukes.
Vertibirds can sometimes be encountered on the ground. One instance is on the steps of the Capitol Building in the Capital Wasteland. In these cases, upon finding one of the parked Vertibirds, there should be a cage containing a deathclaw inside. When engaged in combat, the Enclave officer nearest to the cage will often let the deathclaw loose.
In the Commonwealth, Vertibirds lack the large armament package seen in the Capital Wasteland and are only armed with two fixed forward-firing machine guns and a crew operated minigun mounted on the left-hand side. When dropping the Sole Survivor off in an area inhabited with hostiles, the Vertibird will sometimes support the player character by firing on the hostiles with its machine guns.
On the West Coast, Vertibirds were used by the Enclave to transport personnel and materials between the mainland and the Enclave Oil Rig. Vertibird range was at least 175 miles distance between the Enclave Oil Rig and California. Their known reach includes locations such as Klamath, New Reno and Vault 13. According to the Shi, Vertibirds flew over San Francisco on the way from Navarro to the Enclave Oil Rig.
Vertibirds are known to have appeared on the East Coast in 2277, when the Enclave came out of hiding to secure Project Purity. It is unknown if the Vertibirds were brought over by the Autumn Senior, when he led the Enclave forces east or had been sequestered there by the Enclave before the War.
Fallout: New Vegas
A crashed vertibird can be found in the southern Mojave Wasteland, and several Vertibirds are seen crashed at the Long 15 if it is nuked during The Apocalypse. One is known to have been converted to a presidential transport, labeled Bear Force One, and is seen during President Kimball's visit to Hoover Dam.
Between the events of Broken Steel and entering the Commonwealth in 2287, the Brotherhood has established a vast arsenal of Vertibirds. The Vertibirds have been modified so that they can be docked on the Brotherhood airship, The Prydwen.
Initially the Brotherhood of Steel and the Gunners are the only two factions known to possess Vertibirds, however, in the course of their questlines, the Minutemen and the Railroad may also come into possession of a single Vertibird.
In the Commonwealth the Vertibirds seen are significantly different compared to those seen in New California and the Capital Wasteland. It is larger in appearance and has a transparent cockpit, sliding doors on the cabin, a pintle-mounted minigun on the left-hand side, and folding wings and rotors. The Vertibird also has a docking hook along the top near the tail, that links with the docking hook/arm on the flight deck of the Prydwen. Different from previous models are the model's retractable landing gear, in a different configuration with one along the centerline at the front of the aircraft, and the other three in a tricycle layout at the rear of the fuselage.
Vertibirds in Appalachia closely resemble those seen in the Commonwealth. Crashed vertibirds can be found across Appalachia and automated vertibirds, known as vertibots, can be seen patrolling the skies above certain military installations and workshops.
Behind the scenes
The name "Vertibird" is the trademark for a toy helicopter playset produced between 1971 and the early 1980.
Concept art and renders
- Museum of Technology Vertibird placard: "This is a scaled model of a prototype military transport vehicle being developed by the U.S. Military. The XVB02 'Vertibird' is a VTOL ('Vertical Take Off and Landing') craft with an extremely durable armored fuselage and can be armored with a variety of offensive weapons and defensive countermeasures. This is the most advanced aircraft of its kind ever developed, and the military hopes to press them into service by 2085."
- Shanghai Sally: Chapter Closed
- Hornwright Industrial Headquarters terminal entries; CEO's terminal, Personal Entry 02
- A winterized Vertibird can be seen during the Anchorage Reclamation simulation, dropping off troops.
- The Whitespring bunker terminals; Schematic Archives, Prototype Power Armor Schematics
- Appearance of the craft in Fallout 2, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas.
- Help guard a secret transaction taking place in the desert
- Events of Fallout 2.
- Vertibirds appear at Long 15, while another is used as Bear Force One by the NCR President.
- Fallout 76
- Fallout 4
- Daisy Whitman's dialogue - line 21: I never was happier than when I was in the cockpit. I was able to go just about anywhere and everywhere, limited only by the fuel I could carry.
- Log - SSG Michael Daly