Elite: Impressions – Lakon Type-6

2015-01-16

Supersonic Space Truck

The original space truck, the Lakon Type-6 Transporter (AKA the Lakon-T6 or just the T6) was the first and cheapest dedicated cargo transport vessel implemented in the Elite: Dangerous beta. The introduction of the Zorgon-Peterson Hauler gave a cheap low-cost light alternative for those interested in space trading, but if anything else it’s made the T6 all the more ubiquitous – visit any large station in the game and you’re near-guaranteed to see at least one of these distinctive vessels.

Appearance

A departure from the usual ‘triangle with the pointy end towards the front’, the T6’s general shape is a slightly rounded rectangle, tapered slightly towards the front. A distinctive domed bubble canopy juts from the center of the front ‘face’ of the vessel, flanked by hefty retrothrusters on the front corners of the ship. The slablike sides of the vessel feature heavy-duty heat dissipator grilles and large maintenance hatches, exposing coils of cable and pipe. The rear of the ship, meanwhile, is dominated by a pair of massive primary thruster banks and a large, sturdy-looking cargo ramp. Sturdy, pawlike landing gear fold out from compartments on the center front and the rear corners of the ship, practically clamping onto the landing pad underneath. The basic color scheme is a creamy, neutral gray with some rusty red accents along the dorsal length of the hull. All in all, the Type-6 is big, clunky, bulky, and blocky – it’s not pretty, but there’s a certain no-nonsense, utilitarian aesthetic to it. It’s not designed to look pretty or graceful, it’s designed to get dozens of tons of bulk cargo from A to B with a minimum amount of jumps and fuss.

Cockpit

Most ships I’ve had the chance to examine so far have had either a fighter-type bubble cockpit on the top of the ship, or a more ‘truck cab’ type of a mostly-enclosed cabin on the front end of the ship. The T6 departs from this trend by having the single-seat reinforced glass bubble cockpit protrude from the front of the ship – essentially the pilot’s seat is mounted on a little platform that protrudes from the ‘face’ of the ship, enclosed by a reinforced bubble of transparencies – I’m rather reminded of the front glazing on the B-7 bomber. Whatever the inspiration for the cockpit design, the end result is an impressive field of view for the pilot. While the bulk of the ship itself blocks line of sight directly backwards, the line of sight forwards is a near-complete 180 degree hemisphere, only hampered by the retrothrusters protruding to both sides of the cockpit. This is further reinforced by the relative minimalism in the crescent-shaped main control panel. The primary console is very flat and ‘shallow’, designed to minimally hamper vision downwards, positioned so that you can glance down under it and get a view almost directly forwards and below the craft – a convenient little feature when you’re coming in to dock.

Besides the massive forward canopy, the bridge of the ship is very utilitarian – plated in what looks like brushed steel, status monitors and information screens on both sides of the pilot’s shoulders. The blue glow of the monitors and the orange accents painted here and there form a nice contrast that makes the cockpit look simple and utilitarian, but still visually distinct and interesting. All in all, I quite like the mood and feel of the Type-6.

Seriously, just look at that view.

Handling

The T6 has the general shape of a brick – and honestly speaking, it flies like one most of the time. Certainly, the default thrusters on the Type 6 are rather powerful for a ship of its size – but once you load the ship up to its full cargo capacity, you can definitely feel that you’ve got fifty-odd tons of cargo strapped in the ship’s cavernous holds. Seeing as this is a trade vessel and if your cargo isn’t full, you’re doing it wrong – well, you’ll be flying a brick a lot. Fully loaded, the Lakon’s turn radius is extensive, and the ship has a LOT of inertia – make sure that you leave yourself the appropriate distance and time to bring yourself to a halt when you’re coming in to dock. (A fun little detail is the fact that your retrothrusters are mounted directly on both sides of the cockpit; when you hit the brakes, you can actually see the blue-white thruster plasma flaring). Empty of cargo, of course, the T6 is surprisingly nimble for its size – what with the ship having fifty to a hundred tons less mass to push around.

That said, the ship’s lateral and vertical thrusters are surprisingly powerful for a dedicated cargo ship – the Lakon-T6 might be on the clunky side and have a mile-wide turn radius, but it’s surprisingly fast for its size. While the regular cruising speed of the ship (ranging from about 180 meters per second at 2 thruster pips to 220 with full thruster power) is pretty much on par for dedicated cargo ships, hitting the engine boosters will kick you up to about 345 meters per second, and with the sheer mass of the ship and its cargo, you’ll maintain that inertia for a surprising amount of time. This can be a lifesaver if you get interdicted and need to get the hell out of dodge fast – or, pairing all that momentum with reinforced armor and the sheer mass of the ship itself, will make for an impromptu battering ram. Reports indicate anything the size of a Cobra or smaller does not appreciate the armored brick that is the Lakon Type-6 smashing into it at supersonic velocities. (Be aware that with the positioning of the cockpit bubble, this likely will result in a busted canopy).

Another note about the ships maneuverability is that the T6 is actually even just a little bit more narrow than the Cobra – it’s just much, much longer and certainly taller, more of a rectangular cross-section than the Cobra’s flat triangle shape. As long as you can keep the ship under control, you can fit through all sorts of gaps you wouldn’t expect, even if stations will still reserve the ‘big boys’ medium landing pads for you. (Which segues into another important point: the T6 is the largest dedicated cargo ship to fit onto a medium pad, while the Lakon type-7 and type-9 require large pads and therefore are unable to dock at outposts).

Questionable tactical maneuverability aside, strategically the Lakon T6 fares much better. Loaded up with its full default cargo compliment of 50 tons – and a full 16-ton fuel tank – you can get up to 10.07 LY in a single jump. Unladen (which you shouldn’t be in a Lakon), your jump range is an impressive 12.39 LY. Upgrading your systems with lighter D-grade equipment and more powerful frameshift drives can get you up to rather impressive distances. Meanwhile, the drive consumes a maximum of 2 tons per jump, meaning you can get up to eight max-range frameshift jumps with a full tanks – an impressive distance, all things considered.

As for sounds, the T6’s thrusters have this distinctive high-pitched whoosh-whine-rumble to them – rather like the whine of a jet engine spooling up, mixed in with the thrum of an 18 wheeler. It certainly does fit the feel of the ship – there’s something I quite enjoyed about the sound of the engine when you’re lifting off from the pad with 100 tons of precious metals in your hold and the drives’ bass vibration buzzing through the yokes in your hands.

Hardpoints

Armament-wise, the Lakon-T6 has exactly twice the firepower of the Hauler – the default configuration on the ship comes with a simple pair of class-1 pulse lasers in each of the ship’s two small hardpoints. Yes, two small hardpoints. Your over-a-million-credit ship actually has all the actual and potential dakka of a Sidewinder. The two mounts sit on the underside of the ship, near the front corners, right beside the front ventral thrusters. Convergence-wise they’re an alright distance from one another – they’re not grouped quite as tightly as with the Sidewinder, but definitely closer to one another than the Cobra’s wingtip guns. They’re also fairly close to the front edge of the ship – while they can’t traverse too high, they’re perfectly capable of firing at targets above the ship’s waterline with a bit of distance. Laterally speaking they’re well positioned – with the near-flat belly of the T6, they have a near-total 360 degree fire arc around them.

Meanwhile, though the Type-6’s armament leaves plenty to be desired, the ship actually comes with three utility mounts. Two of these are located at the front of the ship, one in a ‘chin’ mount underneath the cockpit, another directly above it, while the last one lives in a little socket underneath the rear cargo ramp. Having three utility mounts allows you to mount all sorts of interesting secondary and/or defensive equipment – all three together have a near-total coverage around the ship, making for a solid point defense envelope. Alternatively, you could carry systems like chaff launchers, EM pulsers and heat sink launchers in order to avoid fire altogether.

Fitting

Outfitting the Type-6 for its main task is relatively simple. Focused on cargo transport, the T6 hull features extensive internal compartments – featuring two class-5 bays (by default equipped with class-4 cargo racks), two class-4 bays (by default, class-3 racks), a single class-3 bay (for the C3 shield generator) and a pair of C2 bays (with a single C2 rack and a basic discovery scanner). Just throwing a little bit of money at the ship lets you easily double the carrying capacity of the vessel. My personal preference is a configuration with a C3 shield generator, a C2 fuel scoop, and the rest of the compartments filled with max-class cargo bays – that way you can fit a neat total of 100 tons of cargo while retaining your defenses AND allow you to save on fuel costs. Some people will advocate removing even the shield generator; I’m personally a bit iffy on that. The equipment classes on the Type-6 are high enough that any damage you might incur – pirate interdiction, a bad landing, some idiot boosting out of the mail slot when you’re aligning into it – will easily override any extra profits you’d make. Meanwhile, the ship is big and heavy and horks up enough fuel that collecting your own will make a neat extra profit on the side.

Meanwhile, the sheer amount of internal bays allows you to fit a Type-6 for all sorts of other potential tasks. An aspiring explorer can easily fit a discovery scanner, detailed surface scanner, fuel scoop and a shield generator while lugging around a field repair module ‘just in case’ and still have space for plenty of cargo. A miner could easily mount up mining lasers in the weapon hardpoints and carry a refinery to make their own fortunes in an out-of-the-way belt, and so on. And of course, upgrading the shield generator from C3 to C4 or even C5 would take a lot more power, but give an accordingly more powerful protective envelope.

Armament-wise.. honestly speaking, the main benefit of having two hardpoints is that you can carry two mining lasers for faster mining. Certainly, you could fit a pair of turreted weapons for defense – the wide fire arc available to the hardpoints would let you pretty much fire at anything halfway below your waterline. Alternatively, you could fit mine launchers to discourage pursuit while you’re spooling up your frameshift drive for a getaway. Chances are that most pilots will either stick with the default pulse lasers, or remove them entirely in order to lighten the ship a bit.

As for the rest of the equipment on the ship, the C3 power generator is actually fairly well-fit for the rest of the ship – not carrying big powerful weapons means there’s plenty of juice available in a unit that might be considered undersized for a ship of this size. The biggest power draw comes from the hefty C4 thruster array and frameshift drive. In practice, if you intend to just do trading, simply upgrading the power generator into a lightweight C3D model will provide plenty enough power to upgrade the rest of your gear into lightweight D-grade – and the frameshift drive all the way into high-performance A-grade for a 20+ LY laden jump range.

Combat

Don’t.

Still here?

Alright, alright. The Type-6 is a big, expensive, bulky ship with little to no guns on it and a lot of valuable cargo on board. In other words, you’re basically a loot piñata with the target profile of a barn. Certainly you could upgrade the shields and armor, maybe pack a shield cell bank as well, but the sheer size and bulk of the ship means you’re a very easy target to hit, to boot. As a T6 pilot, you won’t be looking for a fight – you’ll be looking to get away from one, possibly popping out mines while praying your FSD spools up before you get splattered across the void. If you do go looking for a fight – yes, paired small weapons can hurt small ships, but your lack of maneuverability will make keeping your target in your sights a pain in the aft. If you want to fight, go for the Viper, if you want to haul cargo while fighting, pick up a Cobra. The Type-6 is designed for primarily non-combat roles and it shows.

Putting It All Together

A hulky, dedicated vessel, the Lakon Type-6 Transporter might be an unexciting choice, but it does exactly what it’s designed to well – making it an invaluable tool for the would-be merchantman. With a hefty cargo capacity, an extensive frameshift range and the ability to carry plenty of useful equipment, it’ll also make for a good ‘low-cost’ exploration ship.

Numbers

Lakon ‘Type-6′ Transporter

Price: 1,045,945 CR

Shields/Armor: 90/90

Hardpoints: 2x C1, 3 utility mounts

Internal Compartments: 2xC5, 2xC4, 1xC3, 2x C2

Mass: 201.0 t (155t hull, 267.0 fully laden)

Cargo Capacity: 50 tons (max 112 tons)

Fuel Capacity: 16 tons

Jump Range: 12.30 LY unladen (10.07 fully laden)

Top Speed: 220 m/sec / 350 m/sec boost

Power Plant Output: 8.00 MW (7.47 / 93.3% used)

Default Loadout

2x Class 1 weapon mount: 2x C1E Fixed Pulse Laser

3x utility mount: Empty

Power Plant (Class-3): C3E

Thrusters (Class-4): C4E

Frameshift Drive (Class-4): C4E

Life Support (Class-2): C2E

Power Distributor (Class-3): C3E

Sensor Suite (Class-2): C2E

Fuel Tank (Class-4): C4 (16 tons)

2x Internal Bay (Class-5): 2x C4 Cargo Rack (16 tons)

2x Internal Bay (Class-4): 2x C3 Cargo Rack (8 tons)

1x Internal Bay (Class-3): C3E Shield Generator

2x Internal Bay (Class-2:) C1 Cargo Rack (2 tons), C1E Basic Discovery Scanner

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by CMDR Zhor.

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