From: Iowan in MD/DC
I hate to disagree, but the US didn't delay battleships for carriers. It delayed them due to landing craft, destroyers, and other small ships.
The US had at least 18 slipways capable of building capital ships. There were never more than 11 Essex-class on the ways at a time (though having 11 on the ways was common in 1943).
Kentucky was laid down at Norfolk and was using a slip there from 3/42 to 6/42. The first Essex-class laid down at Norfolk (USS Shangri-La) wasn't laid down until 1/43. Norfolk had four large slipways but never used more than two at once for CV and/or BB during the war. Building Kentucky would have delayed something, but it wouldn't have blocked a slip that would otherwise have been building a CV.
Illinois is a little more sketchy. I haven't found a well-documented (i.e. back to builder's records) source for her first laid-down date. Philly had 2 or 3 (reliable records again incomplete) large slipways at the time (by mid-43 there were certainly 3; can't confirm what was available in '42). Several sources list December 1942, with construction being suspended the same month. USS New Jersey had just been launched at that point and USS Wisconsin was still on the ways. The first Essex-class was laid down there in March 1943 (USS Antietam). Building Illinois there would have delayed the next CV laid in Philly (USS Princeton as she was finally commissioned). But... there's no reason another CV couldn't have been laid down elsewhere. In addition to Norfolk as noted above, Fore River had a large slip available for example.
So why didn't the US use all its large slips to build large ships? Because it needed huge numbers of small ships, and its small-ship building capacity was insufficient. Kentucky was replaced in her slip by LSTs.
Japan, FYI, DID have a big-slip choke point.
Again FYI, USS Iowa and USS New Jersey each took about 33 months to build. USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin took eight months longer (their priority having been lowered - rule of thumb is that later units of a class are build faster, not slower). However you also need to allow some working up and 'debugging' time: USS North Carolina had serious issues with vibration that took months to fix, for example. USS Essex was commissioned on the last day of 1942, but look when she appears on the game's OrBat.
So if you want more US BB, I suggest assuming a higher priority in the yards. Pull USS Missouri and Wisconsin forward about nine months, and add in Kentucky and Illinois in early and mid 1945 respectively. Montana might appear in 1946, but probably not sooner. Give up a few dozen LSTs, a squadron or so of DD, another of DE, and a CL or two for balance.
This all sounds very reasonable to me.