Re: General order 24, were Kir kand Scotty bluffing?
It's debatable whether the order would have been carried out had Kirk's demands not been met. However, would a single Constitution-class ship really have the means to carry out such an order?
I haven't seen anything that suggests the Enterprise has that kind of firepower. There is a similar concept in the Star Wars universe called Base Delta Zero, but completely melting a planet's surface wouldn't be necessary to wipe out all life.
They don't say anything melting the planet surface only that they had programmed all cities and military installations into their fire control computer.
The capability is also mentioned in Bread and Circuses
Bread and Circuses wrote:
CLAUDIUS: But on the other hand, why even bother to send your men down? From what I understand, your vessel could lay waste to the entire surface of the world
"I had no idea you were so... formidable. " - Anan 7 to James T. Kirk, A Taste of Armageddon