T-51 power armor
|This is a lore summary, presenting intradiegetic or in-universe information about the subject. For game characteristics and similar data, consult the table on the right.|
Background[edit | edit source]
With the resource crisis severely limiting the ability of the United States military to deploy combat vehicles, especially tanks and other types of armor, it began research efforts to create self-powered combat suits in August 2065. Mechanized cavalry units provided with them would retain the mobility of a soldier moving on foot while giving them the ability to use heavy weapons with ease. Research proceeded rapidly. While early prototypes were unsuccessful, lessons learned in the process paved the way for future advances in military sciences, construction, and fusion.
The most important achievement of this early stage of research was the development of a fusion cell. Crude, but effective, the design was unveiled to the world in the summer of 2066. It further strained Sino-American relations, after the United States refused to share its crude oil reserves with the Asian superpower. The invasion of Alaska in winter of 2066 forced the military and its contractors to cut corners and come up with a stop-gap solution. In 2067, the first West Tek production model of powered infantry combat armor designated T-45 was rushed to the frontline to defend against the Chinese attackers. Although lacking in mobility, this early model allowed soldiers to carry heavy weapons into combat, becoming key to countering masses of Chinese infantry and tanks. China rushed to develop its own version, but it was years behind the United States. Anticipating this move, the military invested in the development of electromagnetic weapons to counter the threat should it arise. In a way, China engineered its own demise, as the deployment of the T-45 also led to the development of the West Tek power armor frame, the basis on which all subsequent armor was manufactured.
Meanwhile, West Tek continued developing a superior model, designated T-51. By 2069, it was the largest contract of the largest defense contractor of the United States government. However, the ambitious nature of the project led to many delays and it took nearly ten years to complete the development cycle. In the meantime, the T-45d became the symbol of American might. Various modifications were developed and tested using it as basis, including the MP-47A unit, featuring an autonomous medical delivery system and rudimentary onboard AI.
In 2074, American T-45 model D power armor units, mechanized cavalry, and infantry divisions invaded mainland China. However, the invasion quickly bogged down as the T-45's aging design proved insufficient to overcome the Chinese defenders. The T-51 model power armor remained in development, with various production models being tested in combat conditions at Fort Strong in Massachusetts, troubleshooting the design. Problems were still present this far into the development cycle, delaying deployment. For instance, the September 2075 iteration 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.
However, the problems were eventually ironed out and the joint efforts of West Tek and Fort Strong resulted in the first production run of T-51 power armor being sent to China in June 2076. It outperformed the T-45d in every aspect, providing the United States with the means to overcome Chinese resistance on all fronts. Many units were sent to China, where the renewed American offensive finally sent the People's Liberation Army into retreat. In January 2077, General Constantine Chase completed the Anchorage Reclamation, using winterized T-51b power armor troops as spearhead. The completion of the Anchorage Reclamation also coincided with the introduction of the T-60 power armor, developed first as an upgrade of the T-45 series, then spun-off into a separate series. The Great War and the destruction of the United States ensured that the T-51 model B (T-51b) and T-60 power armor remained the most advanced designs to see mass production.
Shortly before the Great War, the U.S. government began the development of the first suit of advanced power armor, designated X-01. It represented a radical, new approach to designing powered armor, eschewing traditional design philosophies and was manufactured in limited amounts. Due to the threat of nuclear war, the armor was designed to be used after a nuclear apocalypse. While several prototypes were fielded by Presidential bodyguards, the prototype models suffered from design flaws that prevented full production. These design issues were not overcome before the start of the Great War, leaving very few units of X-01 produced, although the schematics were saved and backed up by the Enclave just prior to the bombs falling. It wasn't until the 2198 that the Enclave began to develop advanced versions of power armor anew. Due to a lack of success, the research stalled until Presidential Order mandated the development of an upgrade in 2215. Five years later, the first mass produced advanced power armor was developed and mass-produced for the use of Enclave field units. Existing T-51 stock was used for training troops on Control station Enclave and logistical duties.
Subsequent research and development of new power armor models was hampered by the destruction of the oil rig by the Chosen One in 2242. The efforts began anew once the fleeing Enclave arrived in the Capital Wasteland and settled into Adams Air Force Base. The result was the next-generation Hellfire power armor: Pinnacle of post-War power armor design.
Design[edit | edit source]
The T-51 is 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 a weapon that provides the best possible protection through incorporating the latest passive defense features.
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. The surface can be treated in a special chemical process to increase its defensive properties substantially. To further enhance protection against direct contact with and contamination by radioactive, biological or chemical substances, the armor can be made air tight, allowing its operator to explore even the most contaminated areas with reasonable safety as long as the armor is not compromised. The helmet is an integral part of this protection, fitted with a rubberized cowl mounted to the chest plate and providing a tight seal. As with all T-series, the vision slit is bullet-proof. 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. Powered by a back-mounted TX-28 Micro-Fusion 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. However, to achieve optimal performance, the armor has to be custom-fitted to each operator. A properly fitted armor worn by a well trained operator feels like an extension of one's body. 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.
The combination of excellent design, careful engineering, and intense mass production allowed the United States to field entire platoons of powered armor infantry in June 2076. While Chinese soldiers learned how to counter T-45d armored units, stalling U.S. offensives in Alaska and China, the T-51 model B firmly tipped the balance of power on the front in favor of the United States. With T-51bs, the American military achieved more in six months than over the preceding ten years with T-45 model Ds. By January 2077, Anchorage was liberated with surprisingly low casualties, thanks to T-51b models adapted to Arctic conditions. The renewed offensive on the Chinese mainland has also sent the PLA into full retreat after supply routes from countries it annexed broke down totally.
After the Great War, the T-51 would continue to serve with distinctions with factions that had access to it. Its principal operator is the Brotherhood of Steel, with Brotherhood T-51b armor being standard issue. It was also the service armor of the Enclave until the deployment of advanced power armor of its own design, at which point the T-51 was relegated to training and logistical duties. Some factions and wastelanders also possess the armor in limited quantities.
Variants[edit | edit source]
T-51 model B[edit | edit source]
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 is the apex of pre-War power armor design.
Winterized T-51 model B power armor[edit | edit source]
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-51 model B power armor[edit | edit source]
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.
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
- The game and cutscene model of the armor was created by Tramell Ray Isaac for Fallout.
- The drop-down optic on the helmets is directly taken from a similar optic used by a cult in the film The City of Lost Children.
- In Van Buren, the appearance of the armor was slightly changed. Joshua Sawyer justified the decision as follows:
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.”
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Fallout[edit | edit source]
Fallout 2[edit | edit source]
Tribal with a broken T-51b helmet
Enclave soldiers in advanced power armor in front of a pre-War poster depicting the T-51b
Fallout 3[edit | edit source]
Van Buren[edit | edit source]
Fallout Tactics[edit | edit source]
Fallout: New Vegas[edit | edit source]
Fallout 4[edit | edit source]
Fallout 76[edit | edit source]