Tens of thousands of pounds worth of exhibits were destroyed after vandals broke into a secondary school in the early hours of Saturday.
Market Deeping Model Railway Club lost years of work in the raid at Welland Academy in Stamford.
Club chairman Peter Davies, 70, said exhibits were smashed, thrown around and stamped on, including a locomotive unit worth about £8,500.
The grandfather-of-five, a retired teacher, said the display had taken hours to prepare and included exhibits which were the ‘life’s work’ of some members.
Peter, of Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, said: ‘It’s heartbreaking. There were grown men there in tears because of what had been done, and I admit I was one of them.
‘Can you imagine your life’s work wrecked? One guy spent 25 years on his work and it’s wrecked, it’s just horrendous. They left it like a bomb site.
‘Some of the models were irreplaceable.
‘Tables and layouts were overturned, dioramas were trashed, it was total devastation and destruction.
‘There was no plan it was mindless. I have no idea why someone would do this.
‘The damage will top tens of thousands of pounds but it will never any recompense the time, skill and love that went into making those models, you can’t compensate that.
‘People have spent their lives building a model and then to see it trashed, there is no human emotion you can explain – just total despair.’
Some of the models and equipment had been thrown through the basketball hoops in the hall, and an electrical cable had was left hanging from one of the beams in the roof.
Many exhibits featured dozens of tiny, hand-finished components, and had taken hours of preparation ahead of a show which was meant to start yesterday.
Police were alerted by a resident at 3.50am and a short while later an alarm at the school also activated.
Officers from Lincolnshire Police and a dog handler from Cambridgeshire Police were able to track down four youths who were hiding in the school.
A Lincolnshire Police spokesperson said: ‘On arrival at the school we arrested four youths, who were on the premises, for burglary and criminal damage.
‘We are continuing our investigation and confirm damage was done to model railway exhibits which had been set up in the school for a display today .’