Ah, but Force Z was attacked by a load of land-based bombers. A carrier escort would have been a great help there. The Japanese landing fleet would have been carved up - located by carrier aircraft, sunk by battleship (I doubt they would have organised a carrier strike). The Japanese would then have diverted a battle group to deal with the British force, would overwhelm them with escorted carrier-borne bombers, and the outcome would be the same. Except for the loss of the Japanese troop convoy invading Malaysia. Would Singapore then have been able to stand? Less Japanese in Malaysia = slower withdrawl to Singapore (if there even was one) this means more time to effectively form a defense. Or am I just kidding myself?