Back when the RN had more than one flattop
RN Fleet Air Arm carrier planes, 1943/44. Nearest to farthest is a Seafire (marinized Spitfire), Corsair, Martlet (Wildcat), two Barracuda to the right, aircraft at the end is a Firefly and a Sea Hurricane facing the camera. Photo was taken at RNAS training facility a Royal Navy mechanics school in the Midlands, NAS Mill Meece / HMS Fledgling. The facility was used to train WRNS Air Mechanics (Ordnance) on FAA types.
During WWII, the Royal Navy saw the writing on the wall in the respect that, to remain a first-rate naval power with a global reach, it needed a fleet of modern aircraft carriers. Entering the war in 1939 with three 27,000-ton Courageous-class carriers converted from battlecruiser hulls, the 22,000 ton battleship-hulled HMS Eagle, the unique 27,000-ton Ark Royal, and the tiny 13,000-ton HMS Hermes (pennant 95, the world’s first ship to be designed as an aircraft carrier)– a total of just six flattops, within the first couple years of the war 5/6th of these were sent to the bottom by Axis warships and aircraft!
Luckily, two 32,000-ton Implacable-class and four 23,000-ton Illustrious-class carriers, laid down before the war, were able to join the fleet to help make good those losses until the first of 16 planned follow-on Colossus-class light fleet carriers, a quartet of 35,000-ton Audacious-class, four Malta-class supercarriers (57,000-tons), and 8 planned Centaur-class carriers could be built (although most weren’t)– not to mention 45 escort carriers quickly folded into service– hence the wide array of comprehensive carrier-based strike and fighter aircraft seen above.