While the Zweireiner-Class freighter is the most common, and indeed the classic freighter in deWulf space, smaller designs do exist. A variety of designs and hullforms exist. Some are cut down Zweireiners, whereas others are completely new and different designs. One of those more common designs is the rough-field capable FT1 built by deWulf Heavy Industries.
The first thing that sets the FT1 apart is its use of a hard keel plate instead of a spine like on the Zwei. This means that instead of relying on landing cradles or lighters to handle cargo, all it requires is an area of clear land. The second major change is the shift of the command and habitation spaces as part of a central hull structure instead of the more traditional fore and aft like seen on the Zwei. Unlike other ships, the FT1’s bridge is not just a command deck (inasmuch as a freighter even needs one), but also a control station for the FT1’s onboard cargo handling systems. This collection of deployable cranes and related systems allows an FT1 to unload and load containers off its frame without any support.
Also unlike larger freighters, it’s not uncommon to see FT1s running as part of individual owner-operator companies or communes and filling both the spot freight market and the smaller freight runs that larger, more established lines refuse to serve.
While I was doing some writing for another project of mine, one thing that occured to me was that my universe was rather critically lacking in any kind of “player” ship. The kind that either an individual PC or a group of them would use. The smallest freighter in service was the the larger Zwei, and her crew complement is approximately 18, far too large for a “player” ship. But as I examined the Zwei, seeing if I could cut it down some, I realized that it also was like most modern ships: it’s an “ungeared” freighter. That means it needs port facilities to handle cargo, and is restricted to at least somewhat developed ports. That left a niche. And especially since smaller ports are the kinds that have fewer restrictions, less oversight, and more… interesting characters, it became clear that there was not just an incentive, but a need for a ship that could live from load to load and serve those corners that the big lines can’t and won’t go.