It's been a long time..
Anyway, if you've tried to use the importer, you'll know that it is sluggish as hell. I've been trying to work on that. I made a few optimizations to the importer recently, which mostly involve using flat typed arrays instead of lists of lists, and it turned out to be MUCH faster than what I had.
Here are my test results on models from the MUP:
master: 45.777912414999946 seconds to import SHRIKE.IFF
optimized importer: 4.5732363529998565 seconds to import SHRIKE.IFF

master: 1.6189115940001102 seconds to import AST_S_01.IFF
optimized importer: 1.447341495999808 seconds to import AST_S_01.IFF

optimized importer: DEVASTAT.IFF took 7.95558235999988 seconds to import
optimized importer: cruiser.iff took 6.280457260000276 seconds to import
With my most recent optimizations, I was able to cut the import time in half! Well, at least for the more detailed meshes. AST_S_01.IFF hasn't shown much improvement in terms of import time, but that's because the other bottleneck is the MAT reader, and I have no idea how I could optimize the MAT reader any further.
And now for the numbers:
SHRIKE.IFF: 2.7380151280012797 seconds
AST_S_01.IFF: 1.4047294970005169 seconds
cruiser.iff: 3.3131252189996303 seconds
DEVASTAT.IFF: 3.978092076999019 seconds
Arrays are how opengl handles geometry now. Graphics cards will generally only accept arrays which is why the speed up is so dramatic. Display lists are basically a dead design.
Hey @Kevin Caccamo , How does Wing Blender currently handle "DOCK" chunks? I think it sort of ignores them? Is that support that could be added assuming it doesn't exist? I think it would be useful in our current remodel project as well as any future mods to be able to define docking points on meshes.

After taking a quick look through the game files, it looks like DOCK chunks are a feature of the ship files, not the mesh files. I have no idea what DOCK chunks do or how they work, and Wing Blender was designed to export mesh files.

As for the performance boost, I don't think it has anything to do with OpenGL. After I get the mesh data from the mesh file, I have to construct a mesh for Blender, and it's the construction phase which was taking the most time. The loop on lines 297-305 of became much faster once I started using a dict, with the edges converted to frozensets as keys, and the edges' indices as values. I received another significant speedup once I moved the "bl_mesh.loops.add" line above the second loop that iterates over the face data. ("loops" are corners of a face, consisting of an edge and a vertex)
@Kevin Caccamo I have a question on exporting meshes w/LODs. I can't seem to find any documentation on it so maybe you can assist. I've tried two different methods and neither seem to work. The first is I leave the two meshes unparented and try and export the entire scene. I get the following error:

If I parent LOD 1 to LOD 0 I get a giant mega-error:


I have my objects named MARLIN-lod0 and MARLIN-lod1 per (I believe the instructions)


I'm sure it's probably an ID10T error, but I can't find any full documentation on the process so I thought I'd ping you and see if you had any insight.

Try writing 'lod' after the dash using lowercase letters instead of uppercase letters, and having one of the 2 LODs selected.
All the LOD meshes should be at the same place in the hierarchy, so leave them unparented, unless the mesh is supposed to be a child of another mesh.

Also, I tried writing LOD in capital letters, but I couldn't reproduce the errors you're getting with Blender 2.79b.
I got it figured out - thanks! I rebuilt the file and found two issues, followed the advice above and it works as expected. Thanks for the help!