Gunships are a versatile ship role. They lack defensive abilities but (Empire gunships in particular) have decent HP so are no pushover, but should avoid getting into situations where they can be focus fired. They have excellent offensive capability and can kill most frigates with ease. With their Overdrive ability a gunship is more than a match for an interceptor in a dogfight, though if it's on cooldown or they fail to kill the interceptor in the duration they may struggle.
There are very few ships that can stand up to a fully-powered gunship in a one-on-one confrontation, making them excellent dogfighting ships. However, they lack in defensive potential and should be kept out of situations where they will be facing several ships at once.
Overdrive improves the gunship's rate of fire, speed and maneuverability. It also improves main weapon heat dissipation. Overdrive is a potent cooldown useful in almost any situation, either to give the gunship a damage boost to take out a tough target, or give it the maneuverability to dogfight with interceptors.
The Aiming Overcharge improves the gunship critical hit chance with its main weapon for a short time, greatly multiplying it's damage output. Most gunship pilots time activation and cooldowns of Aiming overcharge and Overdrive boosting fire rate and Critical chance of their guns in the same time.
Combat Reboot is the sole gunship specific defensive ability. It removes negative effects and grants 2 seconds of immunity. Extremely useful module, even though duration is short, if timed well can be easily a difference between life and death, or allows for that extra time to stay under fire to kill enemy Engineer. This module can be used under ECM disables to clear them off, or to absorb an EM torpedo from a frigate.
The Engine Overcharge improves the gunship speed drastically for about 15 seconds. Firing weapons, shooting missiles or activating modules will cancel the effect. Mostly used to either quickly relocate to a different flank or to get away from a hairy situation. Can be paired with overdrive, which will get a gunship to a max speed for short awhile, even while carrying a bomb in a Detonation match (just make sure to activate Overdrive and then Engine Over charge, otherwise you can cancel it out by activating Overdrive after)
Completely drains your ship's shield to deal a blast of EM damage to all nearby enemies (damage dealt is proportional to a amount of shield hp points present at the moment of activation). After activation, shield regeneration is boosted for a few seconds. Mostly used on Federation ships due to their higher Agility vs Interceptors or other federation fighters, while Empire gunships don't really need shields they lack speed to get in and out for this to work well.
Unique to a Ghost ship - Launches a charged cloud in front of the ship (following forward movement, can't aim with aiming reticle) that deals dmg to enemy ships. Has a very short cooldown time.
Unique to a Stingray ship - Launches a charge in front of the ship (can't aim with aiming reticle), dealing hull dmg (bypasses shields) after an impact - this module is designed to be more of an Anti Destroyer module, since it does considerably more dmg to Destroyers (~6000-7500 per second), while scaling amount of dmg based on percentages (5-7.5% of total hull points) to all non destroyer. classes. DoT duration is 3 seconds.
Player Opinion and Gameplay
Gunships have one of the best special modules in the game. While not "cool" like the cloaking ability Tacklers have, the ability to drastically boost all of the ships systems and stats for a short time is invaluable. Use it to gain a maneuver advantage, RoF advantage, the ability to afterburn endlessly, or even just to get to a capture beacon quicker!