A while ago I asked about how fleets transition from missile or beam fleets to dedicated carriers. I see a lot of designs for carriers that are nothing but hangar, and not much beyond that, on the theory that the fighters are both offense and defense.
But historically, planes were first used as spotters for ships, not as a means of directly attacking them. And the earliest plane vs plane fights were about scouting and denying scouting information.
There are a lot of uses for having a 1000 ton hangar on most capital ships. Scouts, boarding pods, life boats (if a ship is exploring by itself, and comes under missile attack, RP-wise it is a lot easier to order them to scuttle the ship if they have life boats that are so small that they are unlikely to be targeted, at least if the exploring ship was killed by missiles)
Hangars can carry fast beam armed fighters for cheaply running down merchant ships, and you would not need many to be able to carry out that mission, warp point probes are a lot easier and cheaper if you have the capacity to carry them on any ship likely to want to probe a warp point.
Early on, before the technologies for fighters are fully developed, you can still get use out of factories producing them making survey craft or Siberia class warp point monitor stations.
You could even have fighter sized tankers or colliers, on the theory that they would be too small to easily detect, and therefore not require much division of force to escort them. Well, before the latest changes to refueling and rearming, anyway.
Dedicated carriers do have some big advantages, of course. It is a lot easier for a fighter group to train as a unit if they are all based on the same platform with the same officers. It is easier to alter the ratio of fighter to other fleet elements if there are dedicated carrier designs.
What advantages and drawbacks are there to each approach?