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Cruiser Hull Kestrel B Red-Tail.png
Cruiser Kestrel B Red-Tail.png
Ship type Kestrel Cruiser
Layout Layout B
Weapons Basic Laser, Basic Laser, Basic Laser, Basic Laser
Missiles 5 Missiles
Drone parts 0
Power 8
Augmentations None
Achievements The United Federation, Full Arsenal, Tough Little Ship
Door System
Weapon Control
Kestrel Cruiser
The Kestrel
Stealth Cruiser
The Nesasio
DA-SR 12
Mantis Cruiser
The Gila Monster
The Basilisk
Engi Cruiser
The Torus
The Vortex
Federation Cruiser
The Osprey
Slug Cruiser
Man of War
The Stormwalker
Rock Cruiser
Zoltan Cruiser
The Adjudicator
Crystal Cruiser

This page outlines any ship the player can control in an unmodified game. Enemy ships are outlined on the Enemies page. To unlock the second layout (Layout B) of any player-controlled ship, the player must complete at least 2 of three ship-specific achievements. To unlock the third layout (Layout C) of any ship, for those ships that have a layout C, the player must reach sector 8 with the B layout of the ship in question. The Crystal Cruiser and the Lanius Cruiser do not have a third layout. All third layouts require Advanced Edition Content to be on to unlock and play.

Kestrel Cruiser

The player is provided with Layout A of this ship from the start. The ship has powerful starting weapons, but no augments. It's a gunship, with 4 weapon slots and only 2 drone slots. It's designed to blow enemies away.

The type A's burst laser is extremely formidable, and accompanied with the three human crew and the Artemis missile launcher the type A is extremely capable in the early game. The type B is capable of tearing through tier one - three shields, but against a tier four she is useless. The variety of crew allows for dealing with most situations, but upgrades to the lasers are a must to beat the game. The type C starts with dual lasers and an ion stunner, making it worthless against tier 3 and 4 shields unless better weapons are equipped.

Stealth Cruiser

To unlock, enter the Engi Homeworlds Sector (Green) with an Engi Crewmember. One of the nodes (Long-Ranged Scanners will show empty space) will have blue dialogue that spawns two quest markers. One quest is a decoy while the other will give the player an additional quest marker. At the new quest, destroy the Mantis ship to unlock the Stealth cruiser.

Completing the game with Rock ship also unlocks Stealth Cruiser.

Mantis Cruiser

To unlock, enter the Mantis Homeworlds Sector (Red) with a Crew Teleporter and a Med Bay level 2. One of the beacons (Long-Ranged Scanners will show a ship) will have an encounter with a famous thief's ship. Defeat the enemy ship's crew, leaving the ship intact. Select the following blue options after successfully defeating the crew:

  1. (Teleporter) Quickly send additional crew to look for survivors.
  2. (Adv. Medbay) Quickly teleport him back to the medbay.

KazaaakplethKilik, the famous thief, will join your crew for saving him. He proceeds to provide you with the plans for the Mantis cruiser and a quest point (in the next sector) for a hidden stash of military goods.

Engi Cruiser

To unlock, the player must simply reach Sector 5. This can be done on any difficulty with any ship.

Federation Cruiser

To unlock, defeat the Rebel Flagship at Sector 8 with any layout of the Engi Cruiser.

Can also be unlocked by defeating the unfinished Flagship in the Rebel Stronghold Sector. This is done by finding a huge abandoned warehouse (will show empty node),choose to look around and you will find the construction flagship, defeat this to unlock the federation cruiser.

Slug Cruiser

To unlock, go to the Slug Home Nebula (Purple) with either a Slug crewmember or Sensors level 2. Fight Slug ships at various flight points and damage them to the point of surrender. They will offer you their cargo, and after accepting their surrender there is a random chance that they will offer you an experimental weapon. Ask for data instead and you will see a new quest marker on the map. At the quest marker, the player should first follow the ship by choosing 'Tail the ship'. For the next dialogue, use the blue option to trigger a fight with the fleeing ship. Defeat the ship or kill the crew before they jump to unlock the Slug Cruiser.

Rock Cruiser

To unlock, enter the Rock Homeworlds (Red). One node will have dialogue insulting your mission. Respond with the "or die trying" option, which will give the player a quest marker. At the quest marker, simply wait for the Rock ship to jump out, and then follow (do not kill the Rock Ship, let it get away). There will be a new quest marker on your map. Travel there to unlock the Rock Cruiser.

Zoltan Cruiser

To unlock, enter the Zoltan Homeworlds (Green). One node will have a peaceful dialogue - respond with "Hear them out" to receive a quest marker. At the quest marker, choose "Attempt to hail" the rebel attacker, then choose the peaceful dialogue options to unlock the Zoltan Cruiser. The peaceful options are the first "Perhaps there could be a reconciliation of our ideals without war?", and then the second "True progress can only be achieved without bloodshed".

Lanius Cruiser

To unlock this ship, you need to unlock 4 other ships besides the Kestrel Cruiser.

Crystal Cruiser

To unlock this ship, the player must find a Stasis Pod in a derelict asteroid (Long-Ranged Scanners will show a distress beacon and maybe an asteroid field). This event can be encountered in Engi, Pirate, or Rock Sectors at a distress beacon. It is NOT in Rebel, Mantis, Civilian, or Zoltan Sectors. Rock Plating provides a blue option that guarantees retrieval of the stasis pod (if you're using a Rock Cruiser).

Next, go to a Zoltan or Engi sector (Green) and find the "crew study" event to unlock the Crystal crew member (Long-Ranged Scanners will show empty space). The event is guaranteed in Zoltan Sectors but can also be found in Engi Sectors.

The player must then travel to the Rock Homeworlds (Red) sector and find the Crystal Beacon at the quest marker, which the Crystal crew member will activate using a blue option. The player will be sent to the secret sector Hidden Crystal Worlds. From there, a quest marker will indicate where the Crystal Cruiser is docked. You unlock the ship automatically on arrival.

This is a hard ship to unlock because all these events must happen in order, and it's very often that they will fail to do so thanks to the random maps. If you get the pod or crew member too late, you likely won't get a Rock Homeworld. Even if you get them early, you might still not even have a Rock Homeworld on your map to go to. You can also easily fail to find any of the spots inside the maps that actually progress the quest.

If playing with Layout C of the Rock Cruiser, you already have a Crystal Crew Member. You could get to the Crystal Sector just by visiting the Rock Homeworld Sector and finding the Beacon by luck without the quest marker. (works in version 1.5.10)

Note : If the crystal crew member is named "Ruwen", then the quest marker appears when the Rock Homeworld is reached.

Note : The crystal cruiser can also be unlocked by beating flagship with a and b configurations of all other ships on normal mode, non enhanced.


The Red-Tail is the Kestrel's second layout, unlocked by achieving two achievements that are Kestrel specific. It looks more like a rebel ship than a Federation ship, and has a different layout. Instead of starting with three Humans, it starts with two Humans, a Mantis, and a Zoltan. It favors four Basic Lasers instead of an Artemis and Burst Laser II.

How to Unlock the Red-Tail

The Red-Tail layout for the Kestrel is unlocked by completing two achievements in the Kestrel set.


It may be hard to be a drone focused ship with the Red-Tail due to its starting weapons. Teleporting is easier with the Red-Tail than the Kestrel, however, because your crew starts off with a Mantis, who are the best boarders in FTL. Being weapon-focused is easier than the Kestrel because of its starting weapons.

Ship Strengths

  • Weapon loadout that is fast firing, damaging and ammo-less.
  • Varied crew from the start.
  • Your gunner will level up very fast.
  • Enough crew to man every system.
  • Strong early game.
  • No real glaring weaknesses.

Ship Weaknesses

  • No special systems.
  • Starting weapons will become outdated by about sector 4.
  • Can be weak to boarding.
  • Layout is centralised in the back, meaning beam weapons can take out most critical systems in one shot, and that your pilot is cut off from the rest of the crew.

Leaving the Hangar

The Red-Tail is an extremely powerful ship, capable of being upgraded in pretty much any fashion. It has a good enough start to specialize in any area or to cherry pick what is needed from each.

Like the Kestrel, it begins as a 'Jack-Of-All-Trades,' relying on its generalized loadout to effectively hedge its bets, instead of relying on a special system.

It is important to upgrade your weapons when possible, allowing your ship to become even more reliable, not to mention freeing up slots for additional weapons.

It seems best to upgrade everything on the Red-Tail a bit, to increase your overall effectiveness.

General Tips

  • Consider a small drone bay equipped with Def. Drone I (or II, if you have the scrap and energy spare), coupled with maxed stealth and shields to make your ship almost unhittable.
  • Focus on finding weapons to either pierce or disable shields (or both), or multi-shot weapons. Combining both is extremely powerful.
  • On the whole, you have no real weaknesses. Try to keep it that way.


The United Federation: This is unlocked by having six unique aliens on the Kestrel at once. If you have a Human, Engi, Zoltan, Rock, Mantis, and Slug on your ship, you will unlock the achievement.

Full Arsenal: This will be unlocked when you have all systems on the ship at once. Purchasing the Cloaking, Teleporter, and Drone Control systems will unlock this achievement.

Tough Little Ship: This will be unlocked from repairing at a store with one hull point left. Try to find an auto-scout directly next to a store, let your hull get to one point left, jump to the store, and repair.

Layout A

Layout A of the Red-Tail is the Kestrel, which looks like a Federation ship rather than a rebel one. It starts with a Burst Laser II and an Artemis missile launcher. It is easier to become drone focused with the Kestrel, but harder to become weapon focused. Read more on the Kestrel here.