It was a "title style".
Well, while that make an intresting ship - such proto-Edinbugh would be just as paper as Thunderer anyway - based on real design process, but never commmisioned or even laid down. Since changing turrets will, of course, require similar changes to hull, and this would be an totally different ship.
If we want to make high-tier ships for RN, or any nation, fpr that matter - they would be paper anyway, since we are allmost all out of surface ships which can be T9 or T10 material.
There's no closer ship class in historical progression closer to Des Moines than Baltimore. Well, Maybe Oregon city was, but they're very similar anyway. Since the main gameplay difference is in RPM possible with their guns.
To be viable T9 Baltimore RPB had to be very unrealistically buffed. And well, historically Buffalo was an alternate version of increasing RPM - just adding more guns could've worked as well.
While Thunderer is indeed based on Conqueror's model, those are quite different ships in terms of game balance, as @LittleWhiteMouse pointed at this review.
Also, about Alsace - turned out she was overperforming, and that was the reason we nerfed her, since leaving that as is wouldn't be any good. Of course, Bourgogne is stronger, she's a tier higher than OP, but those aren't related matters - Alsace is quite good and unique right now as a T9.
To get the most accurate T10 BB as of Right now. And there is always a situtational choice - what you think is better., since there is no such BB that can just use AP and forget about anything.
With Conq's hull those 457 mm were a very rare sight, since 12 419 mm guns are much better fitting for super-heal, while being more in-line with the whole current British BB line being more inclined towards HE spam and a lot of guns.
So, we decided to make those guns really viable, and to achieve that we needed to separate those ships, with each one getting unique characteristics. Of course, previous owners recieved their FreeExp and credits compensation, which is always done in similar situations, but Thunderer is not "Just torn-off 18-inch Conqueror", those ships do play quite differently and Thunderer is more fitting for that playstyle.
If you've had Enterprise and it was gone without any compensation - you should've contacted tech support half a year ago, and don't tell that in a thread about Thunderer. You can still do it, though.
And that overmatch barrier is crossed only for 32mm, while there are plenty of ships with stronger bows/sterns/decks/casemates.
For example, theoretically, I can get Koenig, point my bow at you, and do more damage to you, with HE, while your AP would at most damage my superstructure. ( Of course, Koenig can't normally meet even Musashi, but I can't pass the chance to talk about her 150-mm bow.Other german/russian/french BB can meet her, though).
It's not a typo, it's count of battles on NA server. Still lower than your, though.
But please look at different ships bows - you'll be surprised how many battleships are there with bows stronger than 32mm, which is especially prominent in WW1 ships.
The size of those sections can be small to be a viable target, and to get citadels from that strip the angle has to quite high, so the most damage will come from superstructure.
That was a case I had in mind, but Koenig is a more extreme example.
Btw, I have to warn you that Gamemodels aren't always true.