I don't really have the time these days to keep up with all the threads I'd like to, but I'd like to chime in that the some of the common criticisms of the ISD are not really iron-clad. In the history of warship design, when the result is unusual, given the choice of explaining it with a) "hur hur, incompetence!" or b) "there was probably a confluence of technical and logistical factors that caused this, because no one likes to muck about with expensive complex weapons systems," bet on B). Reactor: The whole "exposed" business is somewhat specious, given a) shields, and b) The structure of the bulb could easily support just as much armor as the surrounding planar hull surfaces. The cross-sections do not show this explicitly, but there is more than enough space to support the demonstrated thicknesses that do exist. Also, extending the dagger shape to encompass the reactor might well have led to an unacceptable increase in mass, rather than just separately armoring the part of the reactor that didn't completely fit. One might argue that the reactor had the size was determined by what was necessary to support the military functions of the ship, and that the hull form was the best compromise between extra mass, protection, and the ability to provide the space necessary to support those functions. In a universe where astromech droids can handle FTL navigation, it is entirely possible that KDY had sufficient computational power to run enough simulations to yield a final hull design was the optimal compromise of various factors. Keep in mind the real world precedence of shaping and thinning transverse armor bulkheads and barbette structures to save weight; the goal is always to provide the maximum practicable protection. Even the largest non-Treaty limited battleships (Yamato) employed the flying deck and other such design features to bring down size and cost. Bridge: Raising the sensor globes as far above the hull as possible is not really hard to explain; electronics and sensors are often isolated to minimize interference with other systems. The relative exposure of the bridge (say, compared to a deep hull CIC) might have been quite deliberate. The bridges and control areas of many battleships built after WWI were relatively poorly protected compared to the vitals. It was accepted to improve stability, reduce overall armor weight, and simplify the organization of space (see the "all-or-nothing" concept). Given the presence of shields, and the fact that ISDs are obviously not designed to specifically combat swarming attacks by small craft, there might be similar mechanisms at work in the design of the ISD superstructure.