I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the outfitters
In this article we'll be talking about the Faulcon Delacy Python. The python is an often overlooked ship that I think you can have a lot of fun with.
Full disclosure here: I've pretty much ignored the python until now and dismissed it as not having a well defined role but after putting in the flight hours over the past few weeks I've got to say the python is more of a luxury cobra than a budget anaconda.
The fly-off-the-forecourt Class-E python isn't much to write home about, but no ship is until you really make it your own. Like any of my builds, I wanted a slimline refit to get a good jump range before I equip and engineer so after flying around outside the station to get the feel of it I went for the all-round Class-D with the A-Rated FSD.
This slimline refit is usually a good starting point for a build but for the Python it's worth going into a bit more detail because you have options.
The 7D power plant gives out 22.5MW and weighs in at 32T. Replace this with a cheeky 6A which provides slightly more power at 25.0 MW, weighs only 20T and has better heat effeciency. OK, so the 6A is going to cost you 16MCr but it's a good base if you can keep the power draw down. The class-A heat efficiency is strongly recommended and the 6A is a lot cheaper than the 7A if you are buying your first python.
You can't quite pull the same trick with the Distributor - the 6A is better then the 7D but does add 8T to your weight and you have to choose what you pay for so you have to choose where to compromise. If its just jump range you need, then stick with the 7D, which was my starting point until I'd flown for a while and gotten used to the ship - more on that later but this is a component I upgraded fairly quickly.
Keep it slim
I actually didn't mind the 6D thrusters when I started flying, so I kept D-Ratings on everything else except the FSD, which is obviously the 5A and will give you a jump range in the 18-19 LY range depending on what else you fit.
When I first took the Python out for a spin, I maxed it at 212T of cargo space and flew it as a "Tons & Guns" delivery truck doing missions and flying a gold run without fear of interdiction.
I used the Python for the Tutumu Community goal - hauling 200+ of Gold hundreds of light years out, and it earned me 20M credits in no time at all as a long-distance freighter. As my flight time increased, I got more and more drawn to missions and pretty much stopped trading. So it didn't take me long to go back to the outfitters and start pimping my python.
Four 0A Shield boosters is a good start, but what I've found is my shields hold out for a while but my hull is getting torn open in seconds so - and hold your breath - I'm strongly advising military composites on the Python. It's not so bad in a wing, but when you are flying solo things can go South quickly. The problem really is how crazy strong the shields are compared to the hull, usually when my shields dropped I knew it was going to be an insurance payout.
Military composites cost a cool 50M on the Python - it's not a cheap ride compared to all the flight time I've put into space superiority starfighters, but the extra durability feels like it's needed and at this point I wasn't hauling long distance freight so the extra weight didn't hurt the jump range
As far as hardpoints go, I started with three large burst lasers and two medium multi-cannons. This was a power-draw compromise but not a great choice. Combat against almost any ship became a rhythm of me taking down their shields quickly but not being able to finish the job, so I switched to two medium lasers and three large MCs.
Overall, I found the MCs suit the python a little better than the fraggers that I preferred on the Vulture and Viper builds. They can be on gimbals to make up for the less responsive turning circle, and still do reasonable damage. In the end I replaced one of the MCs for a missile but in general I don't find missiles too reliable because of countermeasures so I don't think I'll be keeping it long term but it was worth trying out. With a bit of tweaking, higher dps short-range burst lasers and MCs with corrosive rounds this is quite a formidable bounty hunter.
Combat encounters are going to upgrade you to the big 7A power couplings, and I'd recommend these right off the bat if you can afford them. I didn't feel the thruster upgrades made a huge difference until I'd flown it around for a while, but once I had them I wouldn't go back. You get about 10% more on the turn and ~50m/s more on the boost, but if you are spending the money anyway then it's worth picking them up.
Price it up
And this brings me on to the price. Upgrading the Python feels super expensive, especially if you are used to smaller ships and there is a huge difference between a small ship that you can Class-A for 16M credits and a ship like the Python where each individual component costs 16M. Each. This isn't a ship you should buy on a whim and not something you can knock together cheaply but now I have it ticking over just so its a ship I've got a lot of affection for.
You can outfit a reasonable Python for just under 100M, but will pay a fair amount more once you have that top-tier Class-A refit.
(Image credit: http://elite-dangerous-blog.co.uk/)
I'm going to touch on engineering briefly, although this is such a personal topic that I can't really give recommendations - you tweak the way you want to go. Always pay attention to how your ship is performing and use the engineers to nudge it the way you want it. I AM going to say that loss of accuracy on your hardpoints really annoys me, you should prefer charge rate to capacity on your power couplings and raw dps over large ammo counts. I'm not building a warship to sit in a conflict zone for hours, I'm building a wing fighter with a sting in the tail so that you can seal the deal quickly and collect the bounty.
If you are engineering for jump range, there are plenty of lightweight components and obviously the drive tuning of your choice.
The Python is a good hunter, miner, and mission runner so collecting engineering components isn't going to be that hard for you.
I've had people recommend Pythons specialized mining, and you could easily dedicate a hardpoint and the internal capacity. I think I'd be tempted to have a mining refit, and then switch back to general purpose rather than carrying a little bit of mining gear around all the time but there is space to keep a refinery at hand all the time if you wanted to. For me, just adding a SRV was enough for me to drop planetside and mine some materials for engineering but I can see the attraction of full on mining.
I guess the roundup wouldn't be complete without touching on skimmer missions. They seem on-vogue at the moment. Obviously you can hunt skimmers in a Python and it'll do the job just fine if that's the way you roll. It's overkill for that sort of thing, but a rock solid weapons platform with a good jump range so well suited to the task.
Overall the python is super versatile. I started out by saying I'd overlooked it as a poor-mans anaconda and I had low expectations of the ship but it feels like a super luxury cobra. Its a mission runner, it's a trader, its a smoker, it's a midnight joker and it's a space cowboy that I'm looking forward to flying for a long time.
So far it's not come up short in any area - sure the Asp can jump further and the Type Nine carries twice the cargo, but its a similar gunner to the FDL and the Python has been great for running missions, gaining faction rep, collecting engineering components, and I've used it to haul kilotons to Community Goals and put thousands of light years on the clock - and it has done all of that with gusto.
"The Python cruiser: Freedom in a box from Falcon Delacy" Five stars, would fly again.
This is Delacy "Tango-Whisky-India" signing off, until next time, fly Casual everybody.