|For an overview of the "mini nuke" ammunition used throughout the Fallout series, see Mini nuke.|
Developed at Fort Strong as part of the M42 Fat Man project, the mini nuke is one of the most powerful conventional weapons ever devised. Though the project was plagued by design issues from the beginning, caused by the weight of the micro-nuclear warhead and the resulting low range, the designers eventually happened upon a break through: Instead of trying to reduce the weight of the warhead or the power of the launching system, one researcher proposed falling back on the spigot mortar system, used over 130 years before in PIAT launchers. The ingenious solution was just what was needed to complete the project and by September 2077 the first M42 Fat Man weapon systems were sent to ordnance depots across the United States.
The mininuke consists of four principal components. The detonator shell on the bottom contains a conventional sub-charge that detonates when struck by the M42's striking pin, catapulting it out of the launcher. Four stabilizer fins attached to it ensure a stable trajectory and prevent tumbling in flight, increasing accuracy (a necessary feature, as the projectile is not spin-stabilized). The hemisphere core is screwed onto the top, containing the nuclear core. Finally, the weapon is fitted with a beryllium contact fuse that starts the nuclear reaction on impact.
Mini nukes are the most expensive type of ammunition, ranging from 250 to 400 caps a piece to buy, depending on your Barter skill. They are the ammunition for the two most powerful weapons in the game: the Fat Man and the experimental MIRV, doing many times more damage than any other weapon even at low Big Guns skills. Despite having nuclear qualities, outside influences besides firing it from the Fat Man will not cause it to detonate.
Weapons using this ammunition
There are a total of 70 free mini nukes in Fallout 3. Two more can be obtained by doing various quests. Another two are in random encounters, one of which only occurs after you complete Reilly's Rangers. Another one can be found in Operation: Anchorage, 13 in Broken Steel, 8 in Point Lookout and two in Mothership Zeta, making for 98 in total with all add-ons.
Available for free
|Closest map marker||Amount||Description|
|Agatha's House||1||Inside Agatha's ammunition box. Get the key through dialogue.|
|Bethesda Ruins||3||One in Office West (move some crates on the top floor near a fridge), one in Office East (near the exit to the catwalk on top of a filing cabinet in a pile of collapsed celling ruble.), and one in the Underworks (in the storage room under a crate).|
|Broadcast Tower KB5||3||1 in a truck's trailer on an abandoned highway to the west, 1 Northwest of tower, in an abandoned house guarded by raiders, in the bathtub, and 1 Northeast of the abandoned house in a lone bathtub between a skeleton's legs.|
|Broadcast Tower KT8||1||In a the Drainage Chamber to the northeast, in the room with the Chinese remnant spies.|
|Calverton||1||Under or on a table.|
|Capitol||2||1 carried by the Talon Company merc with the Fat Man, another on a shelf in the rotunda.|
|Cliffside Cavern||1||In the northwestern chamber, on top of a Hard locked safe.|
|Corvega Factory||1||In a derelict truck trailer on the road leading south from the factory.|
|Deathclaw Sanctuary||1||Near the Endurance Bobblehead, inside, near the entrance.|
|Evergreen Mills||1||Directly East of Evergreen Mills is a chapel (right over cliff sides), inside on the table next to the combat shotgun trap, sometimes found knocked over onto the floor.|
|Five Axles Rest Stop||1||Inside the truck used by the raiders as a sleeping chamber.|
|Fort Bannister||1||Inside the main fort, at the top of the stairs in an Average locked room.|
|Fort Constantine||3||In the Bomb Storage: Two in locked room (see You Gotta Shoot 'Em in the Head), one on a desk upstairs.|
|Fort Independence||2||In the room containing the Miss Launcher.|
|Franklin Metro Utility||1||At the end of the water filled tunnel, on top of the Radiation suit case, underwater.|
|Friendship Heights||1||West of Friendship Heights, in a super mutant camp, close to health and ammunition boxes.|
|GNR building plaza||8||Eight mini nukes and a Fat Man are on the body of a fallen Brotherhood of Steel soldier. This soldier only spawns during Following in His Footsteps.|
|Georgetown east||1||In La Maison Beauregard, on the billiards table.|
|Grayditch||1||In the ghoul outpost building to the south, in the back room on a shelf.|
|Hallowed Moors Cemetery||1||Inside the chapel, tucked under the podium.|
|Hamilton's hideaway||1||In the weapons cache behind a (key-required; get it from Three Dog) locked cell door.|
|Jocko's Pop & Gas Stop||1||In the Signal Sierra Victor drainage chamber to the southeast, on a table.|
|Jury Street Metro Station||2||1 inside the Calverton church to the southwest, and 1 in Gold Ribbon Grocers (see Rube's Gold Ribbon).|
|L.O.B. Enterprises||1||East Wing, on top of light fixture in CEO's bathroom.|
|Marigold Station||1||At the Ghoul outpost, n a bucket on a shelf in the back room with the caged super mutant.|
|Meresti station||1||On an inaccessible shelf near a workbench; shoot with a sniper rifle or knock off with a grenade explosion.|
|National Archives||1||Sub-basement, in the generator room behind a Very Hard locked gate.|
|National Guard depot||5||Next to the experimental MIRV.|
|Oasis||1||In the northern-most part of the sunken chambers, at the bottom of a pool.|
|Old Olney Sewer||1||In a Very Hard locked closet.|
|Pylon Shack||1||On the right-hand pylon footing. (This is also the location of the first Keller Family Transcript)|
|Raider Farmhouse||1||On the ground inside the barn, next to an open locker.|
|Raider Wharf||1||On one of the wooden shelves on the dock.|
|Roosevelt Academy||1||Due east of the academy. Under a table, located on top of a small wooden platform alongside a dried-up riverbed. This is A Wanderer's jetty.|
|SatCom Array NN-03d||2||On the hands of the dummy on top of tower C.|
|Seward Sq. Southeast||5||Near The Preacher.|
|Super-Duper Mart||1||On a table near a protectron, in the pharmacy.|
|Tenpenny Tower||1||Inside Herbert Dashwood's safe.|
|The Roach King's Throne||1||The Roach King keeps one behind his throne, with two bottles of dirty water.|
|VAPL-58 Power Station||1||In the power station building on top of the overhead light near the door.|
|VAPL-66 Power Station||1||On a table next to the left desk.|
|VAPL-84 Power Station||1||In a trailer behind the station.|
|Vault 101||1||On a wooden shelf at the back of the barn just northwest of the Vault.|
|Vault 106||1||In the final chamber of the Science Lab level, after killing the Survivor.|
|Wasteland Gypsy Village||1||In the eastern building of the Village, laying on the floor next to a Duck and Cover! book.|
|White House||3||At the top of the stairs (outside), near a Fat Man.|
|Outcast Outpost||1||In the reward armory after the Anchorage Reclamation simulation has been completed, on a shelf.|
|Adams Air Force Base||4||In the 2nd aircraft hangar on the Eastern side from the entrance to the airstrip. Get in through the alley on the eastern side of the hangar, and check under the desk in the southeastern side, then behind some filing cabinets on the opposite wall. Another 1 is on a metal awning reached from the building adjacent to the building with the Sector 1 Artillery Note, along with 4 groups of 20 microfusion cells. A final one is located on top of the stacked yellow crates inside the hangar with the open deathclaw cages.|
|Adams Storage Facility||2||On a table next to the rapid-torch flamer, several missiles, and a bunch of .308 caliber rounds.|
|Citadel||3||Inside the armory after blowing up the Citadel in Who Dares Wins.|
|Old Olney S. Wilson Building||2||Inside the broken half of the radio tower, on a debris shelf. Get to the east side of the top level and jump down to reach them.|
|Old Olney Underground||1||Inside the hospital, hidden in a room filled with toys, with a teddy bear sitting on it.|
|Presidential Sub Level||1||Inside the metro car behind the one with the Senate Employee ID; it is next to a skeleton with a laser pistol.|
|Calvert Mansion||1||Enter the Chinese Intelligence Bunker (Access granted only via The Velvet Curtain quest) take a left, down the stairs and the mini nuke will lie on a shelf next to the door on the opposite wall.|
|Coastal Grotto||1||The first door on the right when you round the corner and see Plik. The mini nuke is in the back on the table, next to Plik's Journal.|
|Grower's Shack||1||The mini nuke is on the table next to the bed.|
|Naval Recruitment Center||1||Just a little bit north of the House of Wares is a Naval Recruitment Station. In the small office next to the computer is the mini nuke.|
|Pilgrim's Landing||1||Beneath the buoy right behind the riverboat is a half overturned non-movable metal crate close to a standing mannequin. The mini nuke is in this crate.|
|Trash Heap||1||In the open safe next to the bed frame on top of the heap.|
|Turtledove Detention Camp||1||In the Administration building to the west as you enter the camp. The mini nuke is on the top shelf in the armory immediately to the left when you enter the building.|
|Warehouse||1||Next to a camera on the shelf pressed against the western wall.|
|Cargo Hold||1||Follow the conveyor belt in any direction and the mini nuke will stand in one of the turns down in the southeast corner.|
|Engineering Core||1||Right before you enter the decompression chamber during "Among the Stars" quest, it will be on the left along with several clips of 5.56mm rounds and other ammunition types, on a chair.|
|Random||1||Carried by a dead scavenger, who is also carrying a Fat Man.|
|Super mutant behemoths||0 - 4||Each of the four armored mutant behemoths (all of them except the one at Evergreen Mills) has a possibility of spawning a single mini nuke. However, these four are not guaranteed.|
Available through quests
|Closest map marker||Amount||Description|
|Megaton/Underworld||1||Obtained from Moira Brown after completing all of the objectives in The Wasteland Survival Guide.|
|Canterbury Commons||1||Obtained from Lucky Harith by investing twice in him for the Merchant Empire quest.|
|Random||1||Obtained from Donovan for completing Reilly's Rangers.|
- One way of obtaining mini nukes is to kill super mutant overlords which are found throughout the Capital Wasteland. Super mutant overlords can only be found with Broken Steel installed.
- Flak 'N Shrapnel's in Rivet City frequently restock with mini nukes, to the extent that one can acquire up to five of them with every visit.
- Lucky Harith calls them this when gifting one to you for upgrading his caravan
- Fort Strong terminals; Bravo Team Testing Terminal, Bravo Team M42 Report 001: "Things are getting tough around here. Brock has decided to split our men into two teams. I drew one of the short straws, so I ended up on the M42 "Fat Man" Launcher team while most of my buddies are sitting pretty upstairs with the T-51B suits. I can't even begin to describe what a ridiculous idea the M42 is - a man-portable mini-nuke thrower that a trooper in the field is supposed to deploy at close range. I've been pouring over the schematics and I have no idea how were going to get this thing to throw a warhead far enough not to kill the soldier unlucky enough to be stuck with these deathtraps."
- Fort Strong terminals; Bravo Team Testing Terminal, Bravo Team M42 Report 002: "We've stripped the warhead weight down as much as possible, but I think we're looking at this the wrong way. Instead of trying to reduce the warhead weight, we should try and amp the power on the thrower itself. I know that means adding weight to an already heavy piece of ordinance, but I don't think we have any choice. One of the guys suggested we try magnetics to push the warhead through like a rail gun, but the power pack would need to be the size of a suitcase. I'll keep picking away at this problem and see what I can turn up."
- Fort Strong terminals; Bravo Team Testing Terminal, Bravo Team M42 Report 003: "We lost two good soldiers this morning. They were on the surface testing a MIRV variant of the launcher, when one of the warheads misfired and hit the ground right where they were standing. Poor bastards didn't even have a chance. We couldn't even find any remains to send home to their folks, so Brock told us to just fill some cans with sand. I'll tell you, that guy doesn't give a crap about us, he's just worried about the brass back in Washington giving him a hard time."
- Fort Strong terminals; Bravo Team Testing Terminal, Bravo Team M42 Report 004: "I was in bed last night when I had one of those "Eureka" moments. I ran over to the night shift guys in the lab, swept all of their drawings on the floor and starting sketching my idea. They must have thought I'd lost my mind. Six hours and about fourteen cups of coffee later, and I had it all mapped out. We'd use a small sub-charge as a launching catalyst to catapult the warhead from the launcher. We'd have plenty of range, and the sub-charge could be built into the warhead itself. Brock seemed to like the plan and gave us the go ahead to prototype the device. I can't wait to try it out."
- Fort Strong terminals; Bravo Team Testing Terminal, Bravo Team M42 Report 005: "It took the better part of a year, and over a hundred test firings, but the M42 is ready to shipped out into the field. I can't believe I spent over a year on this single project. I feel pretty good knowing we're delivering a well-tested weapon to our own guys fighting overseas. Now that it's over, I suppose Brock will move us on to something else, but for now I'm going to spend the rest of the month packing up these warheads to ship off base."
- Fort Strong terminals; General Brock's Terminal, General Brock's Report - December 2076: "Bravo Team is having a heck of a time getting the M42's not to shoot far enough away from its firing position. The problem is that the warhead is still too heavy to fire the distance required - our simulated soldiers are still soaking far too many rads and suffering blast burns. One of the technicians has suggested a radical idea of using a conventional depleting sub-charge to catapult the round rapidly out of the launcher. His calculations look sound, so I am going to let him give it a try."