I flew it for a couple of hours in a high RES yesterday and it's just awesome. Firepower is now good enough. Speed and agility are excellent. Protection is sufficient. NPCs are no worry, it's collision that is my biggest threat, and I had a few of those.
But fighting in this ship is fantastic, most fun I've had in combat in a long time. The responsiveness is great. You don't spend much time flying backwards in this thing. I commented at the Frontier boards that killing ships in the FDL feels like business. In the Courier it feels like art
The main motivation behind this project was to make the slog to combat Elite fun. I will be flying a lot of combat in my quest to reach triple Elite. Doing it in a death machine would have been more effective, but less fun. Many ships explode after shooting at them for 5 or 10 seconds in the FDL. The Courier doesn't have that issue haha. The beams can be fired all day and give me good, effective shield stripping ability. The corrosive multicannon is there just to fire a burst and keep the beams getting a bonus.
Range isn't as much of an issue as I feared. Sure, the beams aren't doing a whole lot of damage at 2.5km or whatever. But they can get the tags in so I get credit. The absolute performance superiority I enjoy over every NPC ship means that I can gain control position in a blink, or evade/escape at the press of a button.
Switching out two lightweight weapons for efficient thermal vent beams added a net 7 tons of mass. This reduced speed by nearly 80 m/s, which was then halved with the smaller fuel tank, so it's 575/780 now. Still blazingly fast, but short of my stated target. No worries. Actually it makes it a little easier in dockside ops. Ultra-fast ships have err, excellent throttle response and the fine adjustments to throttle position are tricky, so a little less speed isn't a total loss.
Yesterday I finished the power distributor, one of the weaknesses of the Courier. G5 charge enhanced with super conduits now. I don't have the proto whizbangs needed to complete G5 on the beams yet. So they are still G4 point 6 or so. Still, I can fire almost forever, but the capacitor will drain if I stand on it.
I'm enjoying this ship so much I wanted to buy a paint job, but they are all sh!t. Would love the ability to paint it myself.