hms ark royal 1970 Buccaneer jet
The Sea Vixen served the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1972, and like many interceptors of the period, was armed solely with missiles. It operated from aircraft carriers like HMS Ark Royal and HMS Eagle until relieved by the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
While the American super carriers carried more aircraft and were much larger, the HMS Ark Royal and HMS Eagle were comparable in size to the U.S. navy's Midway class. The British big carriers were finished during the 1950s after WW II from hulls laid down during and just after the war. It was the British which developed the angle deck and the steam catapults. Up until the development of the F-14 Tomcats and F-15 Eagles the F-4 Phantoms were the cream of the crop of American fighter-bombers. Unfortunately, the F-4 Phantoms were too large for the smaller carriers sold and operated by Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. They, much like the American Essex class, were limited to A-4 Skyhawks and S-2 Traders. Many of the smaller British carriers operated similar smaller aircraft and some of the smaller carriers were developed for amphibious duties. Are the Sea Harriers as good an aircraft as the Phantom and Buccaneer? Not really, but they were able to carry the latest and newest Sidewinders which made them very effective. However, the Harriers never had their range or speed. Most of the Harrier kills during the Falklands conflict happened when the Argies were returning to Argentina. With the Phantoms, I dare to say many aircraft would have been splashed in the opposite direction.