So Ive read some posts about escorts getting bonus to defense because of their speed.
Exactly how does this work? Do i have to fly my escort at max speed during battle?
if that's the case, i guess getting rid of my 2 cannons would be appropriate?
Just go 2 beams up front with my torpedo and keep the beam i currently have in
the aft bank?
Usually i go into combat cannons blazing, and as soon as i enter combat i reverse engines
and just overload my forward shields as my cannons have 45degree arc.
However my Coveriant Shields IV x2 CAP do not seem to be enough for any larger/tougher engagements.
So I'm looking to do what is necessary to live long enough to actually do the big damage
i envision my escort dishing out.
So i guess what I'm asking is, in order to get that speed bonus, would turning my escort into a beam boat
be better? And how does that defense bonus work?
Defense bonus from speed is simple. The faster you go, the bigger your defense bonus which caps out at 50%. I forget the the Impulse factor that Defense caps out at. I think it's 35 or so. Maxmimum speed is determined by your Engine Subystem power setting and your Engine type. At lower levels you'll want a Combat Impulse Engine. They are faster are lower power settings. AS you level up and if you invest in power skills you and some Injector Assemblies Engineering consoles, you may get your power upwards of 50-55 whch is the rnage in which Hyper Impulse Engines start edge out other engines. They are faster at high power setting levels. (The skills you want to invest in are Starship Warp Core Training, Starship Engine Efficiency, and Starship Engine Performance. The first two skills wil give power setting bonuses when power setting is below 75. The lower the setting the bigger the bonus).
Escorts aren't meant to go toe to toe with ships for extended periods of time. They are designed for hit and run tactics. So you want weapons that the hit quick and hard. The best weapons for that are Cannons/Turrets and Torpedoes. Know a shield facing quickly and then give 'em a volley of High Yield Torpedoes on their naked hull. If you don't take 'em out, run and then line up for another run.
You don't absolutely need to always go top speed to get the most defense as it caps out as Fuzun said. You can see your defense in the ship status window and how it adjusts as you adjust your speed and/or engine power level.
I would recommend finding an empty exploration encounter and experiment with your speed and engine power to find the optimal level where you get the most defense at the slowest speed to maximize your time on target. This might also allow you to free up more power for weapons or shields for higher damage or faster regen respectively.