Merkava Mk. IV – Diorama

I decided to put this scale model in a diorama set in a desert environment, a quite common scenario for an Israeli Merkava tank.

A diorama, even a small one, can do a lot for the model, putting it into a visual context which improves greatly its realism. This time I made a simple base depicting a desertic landscape with rocks and sparse vegetation.


First I made a rectangular base with polystyrene foam, with raised borders made with cardboard. Then I mixed water, vinyl glue and common soil taken from my garden, adding small quantities of Vietnam Earth and African Earth pigments by Mig.

Adding the pigments directly to the mix eliminates the need of colouring it later; moreover, should it be chipped after drying no different underlying color would be visible. You need only very small amounts of pigments in order to change significantly the color of the mix. Also remember that the final hue will be lighter once dried.

After placing the "rocks" on the base I poured the mix, flattening it with a trowel, then I left it to dry for a couple of hours. Before it was completely dry, though, I dusted on it some thin, sieved soil, in order to make it look more rough and "stony".


Once the base dried completely, I made some oil color washes with yellow ochre and Naples yellow on the whole surface, in order to make the colors of the "soil" and of the "rocks" uniform, and to achieve a hue closer to the sand color.

Finally, I placed the tank on the base and I applied some clumps of plumber's hemp, each one over a drop of vinyl glue, in order to simulate the dry bushes. At the same time, I applied with a soft brush some colored powders —namely African Earth, Vietnam Earth and Light Dust pigments by Mig, plus pulverized yellow ochre artists' pastel.

I tried to apply the different colors in order to achieve a richer and more varied chromatic effect. It is important to dust also the tracks, in order to unify their color with that of the surrounding terrain.

Display case

I also built a plexiglas display case in order to preserve the diorama from the dust.

The plaque bears the inscription "Merkava Mk. 4 – Lebanon, 2006" in Hebrew and Italian, with the flag of Israel as background. On the left there is the logo of IDF, on the right the cap badge of the Israeli Armored Corps.

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