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During the General War, when massive fleets could blow up an enemy cruiser with every volley, empires began using fighters as "attrition units" since they were too dangerous to ignore and too small to be worth a lot of firepower. By the end of the war, fighters had been replaced by advanced fighters, heavy fighters, then by gunboats. Gunboats were small starships, with a crew of about 30 on a hull that was less than 10% the size of a starship. Each gunboat had half of the firepower of a cruiser, but they operated in packs of six (four gunboats, a leader with extra systems, and a scout to find targets). A flotilla of six gunboats could wreck a cruiser in one battle pass and give a dreadnought a really bad day.
Gunboats were easy to build and cheap, but their one disadvantage was range. This made them defensive units, protecting planets and bases, turning the "front lines" of open space into trench warfare. Then the empires figured out how to carry six gunboats on a cruiser-sized mothership, and brought packs of these vicious killers into offensive battles.
When the Klingons made their shuttles, they put the "door" in the side so it would be easy to get in and out of the shuttle. For the G1 Gunboat Leader, that meant its shuttle had to dock along the boom so that the door and the hatch matched (and artificial gravity also lined up). This made it so the shuttles were easily interchangeable.
The G1 Gunboat Scout gave up its drone racks for sensors. You can see the matching sensor dishes on the left and right of the ship.
This tree of gunboats is available in a variety of materials. Ships are unpainted, use standard flight stands available from many sources, and, while designed for gaming, make fine display pieces.