RE: pedant at work
The Fairey Fulmar was actually a classic example of the Royal Navy making a mess of things when left to their own devices. Most FAA fighters before then had been modified RAF designs, such as the Hawker Nimrod and the Gloster Sea Gladiator. When the Royal Navy got its way and drew up its requirements for a modern naval fighter pre-war, they included the assumption that any high-performance fighter would have to carry a navigator as well as a pilot. Seeing as the Sea Lords were also hopelessly biassed against twin-engined machines, that meant the resulting naval fighter would be hopelessly underpowered. The first victim of this was the Blackburn Skua II, which was actually the best naval dive-bomber of the day (scored the first combat sinking of a capital ship by dive-bombing in 1940), but was also expected to carry out the fighter role. This was fine for the Navy - they thought it would only have to face seaplanes and the odd bomber far out to sea, and not land-based fighters. This fallacy was exposed in the Norweigian campaign and later over Dunkirk, where valiant FAA crews still managed to notch up some air victories. The Fulmar was more fo the same, only with eight guns instead of four and a Merlin engine like the Spitfire and Hurricane, but was outclassed even by the Italians. It did have some successes in the Malta convoys, but apart from some work as a long-range recce plane, the Fulmar's best contribution was as a trainer for nightfighter crews for the only slightly better Fairey Firefly
The Seafire and Sea Hurricane were adaptions of the RAF's fighters, and neither was perfect (though the Sea Hurricane was superior to the Grumman Wildcat of the day in several areas). The Seafire was always too fragile, it's undercarriage broke on landing, the propellar tips tended to hit the deck, and the fuselage tended to bend under the forces of arresting. It wasn't until the Seafire III that it was really a naval fighter from scratch rather than an adaption, and a better interceptor than American offerings (it could outclimb even the Hellcat and Corsair).
But the FAA did receive three very good naval fighters during WW2 which Lewis seems to have forgotten about - the Grumman Wildcat and Hellcat, and the Vought Corsair. The Wildcat was taken on to fill the gap left by the Fulmar, becoming a firm favourite with FAA crews. Originally christened the Martlet, it scored its first kill on Christmas Day 1940. The Hellcat was also renamed by the FAA as the Gannet, showing the RN not only couldn't draw up fighter reqs but had no clue when it came to naming them either. But they did recognise a good fighter when they saw one, an example being how they took the Vought Corsair and used it from carriers (even escort carriers) after the USN had decided it was completely unfit for such operations. So the FAA did have a number of excellent fighters during the war, it's just most of them were American (in fact, some pundits rank the Corsair as the best fighter of the war).
More telling is that the FAA drew rank over the RAF in the case of the Wildcat. The RAF wanted the Wildcat, which was quite good, but instead got the awful Brewster Buffalo instead. The Buffalo was another Yank naval fighter, only not such a good one. Of course, the example of how the FAA scored one over the RAF completely exposes Lewis's ramblings as just the dark mutterrings of a poor old salt missing his rum ration. So with no further ado, let's look at the Joint Force Harrier issue.
This first came about after the Falklands War, when RAF GR3 Harriers operated from, amongst other ships, the Atlantic Conveyor, and RAF pilots flew Sea Harriers to help the FAA. Later, some bright spark in the civil service saw an opportunity to streamline, especially as the FAA's tired Sea Harrier FA2s were proving unable to take off and land vertically with a full weapon load in hot conditions like the Middle East. The Harrier GR7/9 can, and has since replaced the Sea Harriers as an interim machine until the F-35C/B is sorted. Some are of the opinion that this was simply because the RAF Harriers had had an easier life, especially as they don't have to deal with salt spray as often as the old FA2s. Of course, with the RAF supplying the GR7/9s, is it any surprise they should take over control of the HCF? Once again, this looks like just the Fishheads grumbling without cause.
Personally, I'd like to see Sea Harrier FA3 made from a developed GR7/9 with the Blue Vixen radar included in the future carrier plans, as it would be a relatively simple, low-risk development. It might even be useful for the RAF, which currently do not have a radar-equipped Harrier capable of firing the AMRAAM or Sea Eagle missiles, though that might have an impact on Typhoon II numbers, and an impact on F-35C purchases.