I am about to go to sleep, so you will have to ask me again later if I forget to reply to things, but a few things here:
- while there is a difference between armour steel and builders steel, I do know not enough about either to be certain about any good answer to the question. the way you describe an impact is very much part of carrier doctrine IIRC, with an armoured deck under the flight deck (especially since there are big holes in the flight deck and the hangar so bombs could go in) the early carriers even had an wooden flight deck, easy to repair while the armoured ship underneath it was not even hit because only the flight deck was impacted.
- it is an bulge, whatever it is meant to represent, that is not an armoured belt. it could be torpedo protection, but even then it is torpedo protection added as an aftertought. bulges can be there for 2 things: adding volume (so your ship can be heavier) or adding width at the waterline (so your center of gravity can be higher without the ship getting unstable). for the second variant, there is no need for it to go down.
- deck edged elevators still have an impact on the hull strength, mostly because they need holes in the hull soo large an aircraft can fit trough! (literally this time
) which very much impact hull strength. having them staggered spreads this large weakness over a few cross sections instead of having at all in 1.
- both earodynamics and stress relief are true for the malta's bridge structure. there are ways of having expansion joints in an superstructure (look at that of the great liners, they all have expansion joints in their superstructure but from the inside you will never find them) so for earodynamics they most likely have chosen to split completely.
- as for expansion joints being required, has nothing to do with L/B but all with L/D (the depth described in my earlier post) essexes had the expansion in their upper levels, as had the midways. (see the transverse lines in front and aft of the superstructure in this pic, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _1988.JPEG
) forrestal had the flight deck as strength deck. the size limit seems to be somewhere in between those 2. fact is, even with an smaller ship, it is possible to build somewhat lighter but with higher topweight with the flight deck as strength deck. it all depends on the exact dimensions of your ship (here comes the beam in, on an wider ship you can have more topweight etc) even destroyer sized vessels of all ages have to keep this issue into account: superstructures apart, and the heightened forecastles had to be reinforced to avoid the large change in cross section (hence why flush deck ships were sometimes lighter then forecastle ships, but with higher topweight again
- the iowa had less power (212 shp vs your 220) and an less ducted exhaust, though, so you will at the very least need a bigger one as that