Military Diorama Ideas

Updated April 17, 2017

Dioramas are commonly used to tell a story, and some of the most detailed stories are those of historical war and military conflict. You can use model tanks, toy soldiers and common household materials to make a diorama that tells the stories of soldiers who put their lives on the line for their country.


The best historical dioramas include accurate details. Before beginning, research the weapons, defensive strategies and uniform appearance of the time period. Historical texts and primary source documents can help, or you might model your diorama after a famous picture from the war your diorama depicts. Bring your diorama to life by adding model train smoking devices to make it appear that bomb or fire raid sites are still smouldering.

World War I

In World War I, trench warfare became prevalent as soldiers began to dig trails across Germany and France. Choose a photograph of an important fight, such as the Battle of the Marne. Attach a sculpted polystyrene board to a sturdy particle board for your main base. Cut rectangles of balsa wood into small pieces for trench wall supports and floor rushes. Smear play sand and mud over the balsa wood supports to recreate the dirty conditions the soldiers lived and died in. Cover the polystyrene with this mud until no white is showing. Skewer additional pieces of balsa wood on the edge of the trenches and stretch thin barbed wire across it. Add soldiers and other paraphernalia to complete the model.

World War II

In World War II, technology and weapons advanced, though defensive strategies did not. Trenches were still prevalent, but tanks, machine guns and submarines were introduced to warfare. Use iconic pictures, such as the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima or the Battle of the Bulge, to design your diorama. Craft stores may carry model tanks and have a large variety of toy army men that fit the time period. Create flags from cardstock and printed pictures. Mud and play sand can be mixed to create the mud and filth from the fighting.


Vietnam is slightly easier to recreate in a diorama, as there are a large quantity of highly publicised photos. Use thin twigs or metal wire wrapped in brown florist's tape to create trees. Carve hills and valleys in a large piece of polystyrene board for your base, then glue it onto a thick piece off plywood or particle board. Cover the polystyrene with a thin layer of brown polymer clay and press mosses and shredded ferns into the clay for grasses. Airbrush green paint onto the clay for a uniform grass appearance. Add vehicles, barracks or soldiers for finishing touches.

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About the Author

Brooke Bowers has been a professional writer since 2006. She writes fiction novels as Bela Valentine. Her first novel, "The SoulKeeper," was published in 2009 and her work has appeared in "The American Poetry Society" and "The Pegasus Society of Poets" anthologies. Brooke is attending East Tennessee State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English.