The 2A3 originated during the Cold War+ as a response to the United States' new "Pentomic Division+" tactical doctrine that emphasized heavy use of nuclear weapons including nuclear artillery+. The US M65 cannon+ was introduced in 1952 and deployed in Germany in 1953. The Soviet Union started its own program to develop a 406mm self-propelled howitzer capable of firing nuclear projectiles, codenamed 'Objekt 271'.
Grabin Design Bureau+ completed the artillery system in 1955. The 'Objekt 271' chassis from the Kotlin Design Bureau in Leningrad+ was completed soon thereafter. The unified system received the military industrial designation 2A3 and was completed in 1956 at the Kirov Works+ in Leningrad. Total production only amounted to four vehicles.
Western observers got their first look at the new weapon during a 1957 parade on Red Square+. Initially observers thought that the weapon was a mockup+ created for deterrent effect.
Kondensator had an exceptionally short service life. Following a period of extensive testing the weapons were assigned to the Artillery High Command reserve. There they remained in service until the military reforms of Nikita Khrushchev+ were enacted, favouring more effective missile systems over the super-heavy artillery and heavy tanks of the Stalinist era+.