Re: Worth it?
'But nonetheless with a combat radius and useful payload significantly smaller than the Carrier variant.'
But it's not replacing the carrier variant. It's combat radius isn't significantly smaller either, especially when you take into account the reserve of fuel the F-35C will have to carry in case of missed approaches back at the carrier, which the F-35B doesn't have to carry.
The useful payload is smaller, although as it has the same number of pylons and the move is towards smaller more accurate bombs this is less of a compromise than it used to be.