I am a little confused about the different ship sets: I'm using and modifying the "default" set that came with version 1.82, and they use shaders, don't they? There also is a "classic" ship set (more like the original Elite models), and I'm often reading of "Griff's normal-mapped ships". Griff seems to be the maker of many (or all?) of the default ships too. But he also has variants that seem to come in one or more OXPs. And then there are two different Python variants in the standard ship set...
The default set for v1.80 + are modeled by Griff with textures by Capt. Solo. These were originally made as an OXP for those wanting Griff's ships but who didn't have Shaders. So the default ships do not use Shaders. Griff's Normalmapped ships use the same models but do use shaders.
The Classic Ships use the original Oolite shipset models which are based on the original Elite ships. These original models were a bit un-inspiring so were replaced in v1.80. The Classic Ships OXP adds gun and engine sub-entities to them to improve the styling, and has fully up-to-date graphics (based on the original texture designs) which use diffuse, emission, normal and specular mapping to bring them alive. Many of these features require a shader-capable computer, but they still look pretty good on low-end machines.
The default Python has three variants, the Player/Trader, an 'alternate' (trader) and the Blackdog pirate version.
I hope this helps to clear things up.
, the friendliest Gourd this side of Riedquat.