Royal Navy escort carriers operating Grumman Martlet fighters and Fairey Swordfish entered service in September 1941 and were a great step forward. Nevertheless, the challenges and risks of flying from their tiny, exposed decks were massive.
Speaking of his experience flying Martlets from Britain’s first escort carrier, HMS Audacity, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown CBE DSC AFC described her flight deck as ‘terrifyingly short’. Landing-on was precarious with Audacity’s stern regularly pitching as much as sixty-five feet and the flight deck rolling sixteen degrees, but constant patrols continued regardless, often in filthy weather. Captain Brown fearlessly developed the tactic of attacking the heavily armed Kondor head-on, flying a certain collision course and holding on until the last possible moment to press home his attack.
The bravery of the Fleet Air Arm pilots was little publicised and many did not live to see the fruits of the victory they helped to win. While small in number and operating with limited resources and aircraft, naval aviators flying from the pitching decks of small carriers, in all that the Atlantic and Arctic could throw at them, not only fulfilled a vital shortfall in capability but courageously and effectively made a major contribution towards closing the mid-Atlantic gap.

The Wildcat was a great asset to the Fleet Air Arm, bringing it to nearly the level of the fighter opposition. It was also an aircraft specifically designed for modern carrier operations, thereby setting new standards for British designers in the field. The Wildcat was a potent fighter, with splendid manoeuvrability, good performance, heavy firepower, and excellent range and endurance. On top of this, it was a superb deck-landing aircraft.

Captain Eric 'Winkle' BrownDuels in the Sky