It was more bad luck, 'Force Z', the ill fated Singapore force, had a carrier, but on the way it ran agground, hindsight suggests they should waited for a replacement.
However, the RAF said they could provide cover, but unsurprisingly, with a full scale war against Nazi Germany, almost all resources were for home defence and North Africa, so the RAF in the Far East only had some obsolete, barely serviceable, Brewster Buffalos for air cover.
Lessons were learned, in WW2 the RN
Battleship programme was halted, save for those already in an advanced state of construction.
The Taranto attack was a pivotal moment, as by chance a Japanese Naval Attache was at the port.
Taranto had been thought impervious to this kind of attack, the Japanese Officer surveying the aftermath noted that the same was said of Pearl Harbour.
His report to the Japanese high command made much of the attack by the Fleet Air Arm.
Though the Swordfish looked like an antique, it could haul a heavy load off a small deck in poor weather.
But from 1918 to 1937, the FAA had been under RAF control, so was low on the equipment pecking order, which was too late to really fix by WW2's outbreak.
Later, with the German Navy in ruins, the RN
provided a fleet for the Pacific from around 1944. When the Jap suicide attacks started, the RN
carriers with armoured decks could withstand them better, though whether the cost in a smaller airgroup was worth it was debatable.
carriers had been really designed with a European war in mind, in many cases, like in the Mediterranean, they could expect to be in range of hostile land based aircraft far more than in the Pacific.