I also discovered, relatively recently, that even without a docking computer, "combat docking" at a TM is possible, by using the command console's "Request landing permission" command - docking guide lights appear, and the ship need only get close to the TM at a low enough speed to insta-dock - it's obviously not as good as a docking computer, but still doable when one hasn't gotten that particular convenience yet.ubuntufreakdragon wrote: You should still think about buying a TM a fighter pairs very well with a TM as you can use the docking computer to dock at the TM with low shields to refill them instantly (docked ships that no longer are the player ship get full shield on docking) so a TM with strong shields can be your fortress to hide in with you M3 and it can distract enemies with it's turrets while it shield allow it to ignore their fire.
And of cause a TM can jump much farer than a M3, and stock much more ammunition and missiles.
I would recommend the otas Zephyrus you can get in Home of Legend (once again) it might not be the best trader but it is a combat pig and totally fits this role.
Also, I'd like to add my voice to ubuntu's in HIGHLY recommending a TM as a mobile base of operations, for all the reasons he mentions - and the OTAS Zephyrus is also among my favourite TMs, very combat-capable indeed, and one of the faster ones, too, so it's good for long-term exploration. While in combat, give it the "protect me" command (your fingers will learn that key sequence VERY quickly, heheh), and it will stay near you and cover you with its turrets, thus enhancing your presence. Later on, you can have a couple more fighters based there, if you like, and either have them as wingmen, or even direct them to fight for you while you cruise around in a battle in the TM itself (this I do VERY often - let THEM get their hands dirty, I say! hehehe)