While reading some Cinefantastique magazines from late 70s that contained interviews of the production crew of Star Wars: A New Hope, I noticed that some of the interviewees like Jon Berg (special-effects artist) and Joe Johnston (effects illustrator and designer) among others, referenced to Han Solo’s spacecraft as a pirate ship.
It is for all of us known that the Millennium Falcon design evolved along constant conceptual modifications and upgrades before her final iconic shaped emerged. But along with her design, her purpose also appears to have changed from a pirate ship to a freighter ship.
In the Star Wars canon, despite her description as a “modified Corellian YT-1300 light freighter most famously used by the smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca during the Galactic Civil War”, the Millennium Falcon was first mention as a pirate ship in the second draft of the script Adventures of the Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars (that would become the script for A New Hope), dated January 1975. There is also a drawing and hand writing of George Lucas in a yellow legal pad paper describing her as a pirate ship, a moniker that it would carry throughout most of development of the ship until finally being renamed as Millennium Falcon, a smuggling ship, but, there is a big difference between smugglers and pirates. Without going too deep, smugglers move illicit goods in or out somewhere. Pirates, by contrast, are mostly bandits, thieves and criminals and sometimes associated with bounty hunters.
It is worth mentioning that in that 1975 second draft, George Lucas had written a scene in which Han Solo was serving onboard an unnamed TDF104 pirate ship along with his fellow crewmate Chewbacca and space pirates Montross Holdaack and Jabba the Hutt. Han was able to steal the ship away from its captain, Oxus, by faking a reactor overload, causing everybody but him, Chewbacca and Montross to flee the ship. Then, later on, the scene was removed making Han Solo the owner of this pirate ship from the start of the story that acquired the name of the Millennium Falcon later.
Another reference related to pirates where the Millennium Falcon is involved is in the canon junior novel Pirate's Price where pirate Hondo Ohnaka tells stories about his encounters with Han Solo, Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon but there is not a clear mention of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy as a pirate ship.
I revised some cross-sections of the Millennium Falcon for motifs commonly found in pirate ships like the plank in Jabba’s sail barge but I only found concealed scanner-proof and shielded smuggling compartments, a military-grade rectenna and quad laser cannon turrets in gun ports, and that she underwent unadvised modifications by the Irving Boys and smuggler Gannis Ducain.
The fourth draft of A New Hope makes multiple references to the Millennium Falcon using the word pirate. Here few example:
Han draws his laser pistol and pops off a couple of shots which force the stormtroopers to dive for safety. The pirateship engines whine as Han hits the release button that slams the overhead entry shut.
The Corellian pirateship zooms from Tatooine into space. Imperial cruisers fire at the pirateship. The galaxy brightens and they move faster, almost as if crashing a barrier. Stars become streaks as the pirateship makes the jump to hyperspace.
Finally -in the canon-, at Batuu’s spaceport, pirate Hondo Ohnaka makes a deal with Chewbacca to use the Millennium Falcon and launches a heist on a First Order Train stealing a cargo of coaxium.
Having said all these, I am intrigued to know if the Millennium Falcon was, technically, ever used for piracy rather than just smuggling things?