The VCX-350 light freighter was a Corellian Engineering Corporation starship in the VCX series introduced to the starship market during the transition of power from the Galactic Empire to the New Republic. Benefiting from the New Republic's less-intrusive policies toward independent companies, CEC was able to create a more powerful freighter; the end result combined lavish staterooms, a large cargo hold, and heightened performance. Despite the higher prices, the ship garnered much popularity among trading companies and smuggler convoys; Talon Karrde used the VCX-350 in his own fleet. Pirates would also exclusively target the ship due to its demand. This popularity put the ship into direct competition with the older YT-series as the CEC's best known design.
The VCX-350 light freighter was the first of Corellian Engineering Corporation's VCX line, designed exclusively after the fall of the Galactic Empire. Because of the relaxed atmosphere business-wise under the New Republic, the ships of the VCX line, including the VCX-350, were designed and built with heavier, almost military-grade shield generators, weapons, and engines. The VCX ships were extremely modular, matching a trait common to CEC's starship designs. Dozens of standardized variations for the VCX-350 freighter were already in place within a few years of the model's introduction.
The VCX-350 light freighter possessed a 31-meter long double-decked frame, with a cockpit at the central fore of the vessel. The ship's lower level contained a sizable cargo bay capable of holding up to 250 metric tons. Located on the upper deck were amenities for the crew and any passengers. The crew and passenger accommodations were designed with comfort in mind, as each room was a small stateroom rather than the typical array of bunks provided aboard comparable ships at the time. Typically, a VCX-350 freighter's crew consisted of three beings—though the ship could be flown with only two—and could shuttle up to eight passengers. Six months of consumables were also kept aboard the ship, allowing prolonged journeys. Docking rings flanked the ship on port and starboard sides, just fore of the trio of engines.
Three large engines sat in the rearmost portion of the craft, providing a high top speed. A class 1.0 hyperdrive allowed the ship to move from system to system quickly, and a class 11 backed the other up in case of malfunction. The stock ship was armed with only a single set of fire-linked laser cannons mounted above the ship, located in front of the engines and along the same axis as the ship's pair of docking rings. These cannons were capable of acting as a turret with a partial fire arc pointing fore, starboard, and port and, due to the relaxed policies of the New Republic, were far more powerful than the standard armament for a freighter. VCX-350 freighters also included a shield generator, navigation systems, and an array of external communications devices.
However, all of this came at a price; a new ship cost around 300,000 credits, while used ships typically were sold for 175,000 credits. As such, independent traders typically were unable to purchase the starship, though trading corporations and small companies alike were purchasing the freighters at such a rate that the demand was far higher than the supply. Pirate groups also began exclusively targeting convoys of the freighters, to hijack them, dump their cargoes, and escape into hyperspace, all due to the ship's popularity.
The VCX series was created around 5 ABY, after the fall of the Galactic Empire and the rise of the New Republic. Because of this power shift and the New Republic's tendencies for a less strict control over independent companies, Corellian Engineering Corporation was able to create the VCX line into a more powerful and better equipped freighter than was allowed under Imperial control.
The VCX-350 design itself was created to fulfill the role of a workhorse in any freighting role. While most individual freighter captains could not afford the 300,000 credits required to purchase a new one, or even the 175,000 credit price tag of a used model, trading companies, both large and small, could—and did—pick up many of the VCX-350 freighters. In fact, the supply often paled in comparison for the demand for the ship. The amount of cargo space, as well as the advanced specifications the ship held, were not the only draws the ship had. The staterooms made standard on the stock ship made for a comfortable journey to and from a location, and the ship often became a personal shuttle.
These ships even challenged the ships in CEC's YT-series, particularly the YT-1300, on being the best known CEC design. This was due to just how popular and common they had become only a while after their inception. Most every smuggler fleet contained at least one of these ships in their fleet. Talon Karrde, a smuggler and businessman with galaxy-spanning influence, also used a VCX-350 freighter in his own fleet. This popularity had a price: bands of pirates would often exclusively target convoys of VCX-350 freighters for the ships themselves, rather than for any cargo they contained. Even with this added complication, the ship continued to sell.
Behind the scenes
The VCX-350 light freighter was first introduced in an RPG supplement on Corellian Engineering Corporation products, written by Owen K.C. Stephens and published in Star Wars Gamer 2. The illustration of the ship was made by Jeffery Carlisle. Until the release of Threats of the Galaxy in May 2008 the Gamer article was the only source in which this ship had appeared.