Ah! Thanks for the help guys! I applied your advice and now Im having less trouble. The balance of speed and shields/weapons seems to be the focus of the game. I managed to make it farther.
Currently stuck on the second rebel qualification. Simply put, one does not simply 'evade' 4 tie fighters. They also tend to hit me. I was trying at level 3 shields and weapons, but Im thinking I might be too slow? What do you folka suggest?
It varies a bit from ship to ship (i.e. an A-Wing gives you much more freedom due his extra speed) and on what situation you are, but as a general rule you don't want to be in combat with more than one system (Laser or Shields) recharging with one extra level (that's it, one at level 3 and one at the regular level 2). It's just not worth due all the speed you lose, unless your ship is specially fast (A-Wing) or you have an extra system to suck out energy from (this happen in a couple XWA missions, many more in TIE Fighter).
Also, 95% of the time you will want Lasers to be that recharging system. Even on the special cases (A-Wing and so) you will want to keep Shields at normal rate and bumping Lasers to maximum and, if there is more energy, just more speed. Reasons:
1) You can't kill with your shields. Well, you actually can by ramming, but it's not something to abuse of :P
2) The laser recharge at a constant speed, no matter if you have one or six weapons. On the other hand, the more shields a ship has, the longer it takes to get them recharged to 200%.
3) You can transfer energy at any given moment from lasers to shields... and the other way around.
4) Reasons #2+#3 means that your X-Wing and Y-wing with their 4 laser, or your B-Wing with 6 lasers, can recharge their shields very
quickly by transfering energy from lasers to shields when needed.
Corellian transports are the exceptions to this, due their massive
shield and low amount of guns with "ammo", plus those pretty turrets with unlimited energy.
To transfer that energy, use Shift-F9 in case you want to pass energy from the shields to the lasers, or Shift-F10 to pass energy from the lasers to the shields. You can also use ' (apostrophe) for the former.
Sometimes you have a few moments of peace to set everything at maximum recharge, although they are not frequent. After doing a pass with a fighter against a capital ship you probably want to do that when running away tho, so you will be at maximum strenght on the next pass.
On the "one does not simply evade 4 TIE Fighters"... well, you actually do. And 12. You just need to learn how :P, and then again the most basic maneuver, that sort of barrell roll I've talked before, can help you on this. You may need to do it with sharpen moves or some extra turns, but trust me, it can be done. When playing IL2, you probably don't do the same exact move when trying to avoid the incoming fire of a single enemy fighter than when are several of them going against you, isn't it? Same here, but without having to worry with all the energy, altittude and all that jazz of a WW2 sim :P
Actually, it's kinda similar in philosophy. You don't want to go in a straight line. You don't want to be predictable. You don't want to do head-ons. You don't want to have a bad guy sitting in your ass*. And so on.
*E key targets any enemy ship attacking you, is pretty useful. Also, the left light over the gunsight (http://i.imgur.com/jJXm9DJ.png
) serves as indicator that you may want to start a dodging maneuver, as it only lights up when you are being aimed and about to/being shooted by a non-capital ship.
Goddamn walls of text D: