RAAF Base Rathmines was established in 1939 and was the RAAF's main flying boat base during World War II and the early 1950s. During World War II aircraft based at Rathmines conducted anti-submarine patrols along the Australian east coast and the base was home to the RAAF's main seaplane training units. In addition, detachments from Squadrons based at Rathmines flew numerous offensive mine laying missions into Japanese-held territory (due to Rathmines distance from the front line, these aircraft staged through bases in Northern Australia when travelling to and from their targets). Rathmines was also the RAAF Maritime Section's main training base.
After the RAAF retired its flying boats in 1952 RAAF Base Rathmines was used as a ground-training base for, among others, officers, senior non-commissioned officers, physical training instructors, national servicemen and recruits until being closed in 1960/61. When the base closed a large hangar, complete with electrically operated doors and used for servicing seaplanes, was pulled down and half of the very high building shipped to RAAF Base Richmond to house the RAAF's then-new C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Flying units based at RAAF Rathmines at different times included: