Transport hulls can be used for many purposes. So long as you meet the minimum design requirements, the design is legal. The most limiting design requirement on a transport is that it needs to have 50% of its space used for cargo components. This might be a little misleading because any component that has the "Cargo Storage" ability counts toward this requirement. By using Transport hulls for lots of different designs, you can keep your opponents guessing as to which type of ship they are up against. The following components (in the unmodded game) are legal Cargo Storage components and can make some interesting Transport designs. Mix and match for more complex designs.
Basic Cargo Bays: for Population Transports, Troop Transports, or general transports to move units around or to carry replacement units in a fleet.
Satellite Bays: for a satellite layer ship.
Mine Layers: for a mine layer ship.
Colony Modules: for a colonizer. Note that 1 colony module will satisfy the 50% requirement on a Small Transport all by itself. This can be used as a "secret" colonizer.
Fighter Bays: for an auxiliary carrier.
Drone Launchers: for a drone launcher ship.
A cargo ship is 300Kt, half of which must be cargo spaces. So basically you have a the same amount of room as an escort (150kt) for weapons etc. PLUS you have 150Kt worth of cargo components that help to absorb a few extra shots in combat. All else being equal such an armed cargo ship should win a large majority of 1 on 1 fights against escorts, and will hold it's own against frigates. The longer you can last in a fight the better off you'll be. The main drawback is the 5 engine limit on cargo ships. Sometimes speed can be a decisive factor. (Geoschmo)
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