All ships must start with a base airframe. The airframe is a clean slate for mounting engines, weapons, and accessories to give your design special capabilities. An airframe's size, mass, armor, and drag will influence the final characteristics of your ship. Large airframes are durable. Small airframes are fast and manueverable.
Engines supply motive force and steering. Engines vary in price and performance characteristics. For example, maneuvering thrusters are good for steering, but do not have the endurance for good propulsion. Jets make excellent thrust at higher speeds. Bind controls to each engine to give your ship a control scheme.
Arm your craft with the best weapons for its role. Cannons hit hard and are lightweight. Missiles are deadly at long ranges. Beam weapons can strike instantly.
Mount weapons to turrets to make them more useable. Turrets can also be used to articulate the structure of your ship.
Make your ship fly and shoot better with an array of software modules. Software can affect and control other parts you select.
Fins let your ship "grab" the air, and provide tighter turns. Rudders and air brakes can be used as controls.
Expand your battle endurance with external magazines. Magazines increase your total ammunition pool.
Armor physically protects your ship against projectiles and impacts. It is less effective against explosive weapons, since your parts behind your armor are subject to explosive splash damage. Armor can also be used for ramming strategies.
You can make your ship look goofy with structural components.