A Cruiser is a relatively fast warship larger than a destroyer and less heavily armed than a battleship. This is its naval definition, but the same basic idea applies in Science Fiction.
Mostly, Cruisers are used for battle but can also be utilized as transport vessels. They can carry much cargo but are not as big as Freighters.
Cruisers tend to venture out into the front line of space battles, where they can board enemy ships and open fire on the opponent. A bad thing to do is to put cruisers at the back, as their intermediate weapons will not reach their targets and most likely be useless to the war effort.
Cruisers are also often used for defensive purposes, and can be tactically placed around important capital ships and space stations. They can also be positioned above planets, waiting to bombard the enemy’s land base.
Cruisers make good bombers because they are not easily stopped and their huge hulls can carry a large amount of weaponry, such as homing missiles and warheads.
Smaller cruisers are sometimes used as shuttles to transport platoons of soldiers to waiting ships above. This, however, makes them vulnerable to enemy attack from ground forces, which can include cannons and missile launchers.
Cruisers are usually equipped with basic weaponry such as surface turrets and AA guns.
The next post will be about Capital ships and Dreadnoughts.